Victor and Victrola Sales
Victor-Victrola will be relocating to the Southeast USA during the summer months. Consequently, we will be temporarily shutting-down our sales, restoration and appraisal services beginning in June, 2017. The Victor-Victrola website will remain operational for informational purposes during our move. We will reopen in mid-2018, and look forward to serving you at that time.
Our inventory consists ONLY of high quality examples of original and well-restored Victor and Victrola phonographs that are historically accurate, fully tested and ready for use. Our descriptions are accurate and our condition grading is very conservative. We stand behind what we sell. All our machines are guaranteed to operate properly for two full years. That even includes accidental damage (e.g. the grandkids overwind it or if Fido chews on the soundbox). Nobody else comes close to this warranty. Machines which have been refinished will be clearly denoted as such, with a complete description of work done. Links to online videos showing operation and condition details are provided with each item.
We are not in the "sales business" and consequently are not the cheapest seller of phonographs to choose from. But our selection, product quality and after-sale guarantee is second-to-none. While some others may push glitzy-looking restorations that are incorrect in both finish materials and repair processes, we choose to focus on historically correct original and properly restored machines, right down to the correct nuts, bolts and washers. And we never sell poor, mediocre, replica, pieced-together or incorrect machines. Period.
Yes, you can buy a Victor or Victrola at a lower price from Ebay, Craigslist or from your neighborhood used furniture store. However, consider the following:
Do you know that the machine is historically correct in every respect? Have parts been swapped out from cheaper machines?
Is it a "Frankenphone", made partially (or totally) from 1960's Chinese or Indian parts and made to look old? There are a lot of these flooding the market today!
Is the condition accurately stated? Does "mint condition" really mean "scratched and faded"?
Are the motor, soundbox and all mechanical components guaranteed for two full years?
Is the "original" finish truly original? If it is refinished, were original materials used, or did someone slap some ACE Hardware Polyurethane on it?
Is that written description of rarity or value accurate?
We are dismayed at what is frequently sold via online auction or by some antique dealers as "100% original" or "historically correct". These are often phonographs with incorrect parts, incorrect (swapped) dataplates and/or poorly restored elements. This sell anything attitude compromises the integrity of this hobby; it propagates a very unethical and distorted view toward the phonograph-collecting community. Our policy of maintaining respect for the buyer and the historical importance of these machines assures that you are getting a correct and accurately represented Victor or Victrola which will provide years of reliable service.
Our Sales Philosophy
Selling phonographs is not our source of livelihood. We remain focused on appraisals and historical research on Victor products. However we occasionally come across very good Victors or Victrolas at estate sales, auctions and other venues which we have purchased for a reasonable price. Also, in rare instances, we have restored a machine for a customer who is ultimately unable to pay for the completed product.
Our sales business is not for everyone, nor do we sell a large volume of phonographs via our online listings. It is absolutely true that you can find better prices at local auctions, flea markets and other venues. We are not catering to those hobbyists or collectors who prefer to do their own repair work, or who relish the “hunt” for a hidden gem in the corner of a second-hand store. Our focus is to provide historically accurate, reliable and trouble-free machines, in exceptional condition, to those who simply want to purchase an honestly represented and authentic phonograph without any hassles.
For example, if you pick up a common phonograph in average attic-stored condition, say a Victrola XI, at a local flea market for $150.00, then congratulations! That is a very reasonable deal in today’s market. However, when you get it home, you may find that the motor is seized-up or thumping, the soundbox is damaged and most of the plating is pretty well worn away. Some parts may even be missing entirely. You can send the motor out for a rebuild at a few hundred bucks, have someone repair the soundbox for another $75, and you’ll be good to go with the mechanics. If you are mechanically inclined and have the time to do all the repair work yourself, and if you have access to parts lists and repair information, you can save a wad of cash and will likely have a reasonably well functioning phonograph. But then to make it look decent, you’ll have to replate the nickel hardware, and probably spend many evenings refinishing the cabinet. By the time you are done, you can have upwards of $600.00 or more tied-up in the work, and unless you have used the proper finishing materials and processes, along with vacuum veneer presses, fuming tanks and HVLP spray systems, you can easily end-up with a mediocre result. However, as stated above, we are not here to compete with do-it-yourselfers, nor do we criticize those who wish to complete a phonograph restoration on their own. More power to you! We simply marketing to a different customer base; those who want high-quality "turnkey" phonographs that are authentic and warranted to operate as new.
We know that there are risks when ordering an item online in this internet age, especially with the promotional hype that often appears with items for sale. For example, I am frequently amazed at what passes for “excellent condition" in describing a restored or original phonograph. EBay listings from “recommended sellers” often show phonographs that are a hodge-podge of different parts, including fakes (reproductions) made in India or China. Many are misrepresented, and condition of legitimate machines is frequently overstated. While most sellers are well-intended, many simply have no expertise in the field, and don't really know what they are selling. (Perhaps that is the reason that "RARE" appears in about 90% of the description headings!). To be sure, there are some good deals to be had from online sellers, but unless you really know what you are doing, it’s a free-for-all out there. Some sellers start with asking prices that are mind-numbingly high, perhaps expecting some uninformed buyer to shell out a fortune for a very common model in marginal condition. As in any hobby, experienced collectors know what is correct and what is wrong on a given machine, and will surmise the appropriate valuation in a matter of minutes; but the person who just wants a “good starter phonograph”, or an “excellent example for a Christmas gift” or a "special item for the corner of the family room" usually can’t afford to risk hundreds or thousands of dollars on some online auction or at the local antique store, betting that the offhand description is correct and that the phonograph will function correctly in the future. Even some supposed “experts” (including the popular Las Vegas Restoration Service whose antics were the basis for a weekly television program) provide customers with phonographs that may look nice at first glance, but are restored in a historically incorrect manner, often missing parts, and with wrong veneers and mix-and-match mechanical components. One example was recently featured for a quoted restoration cost well over $4,000 that would likely not bring $200 at auction when placed in front of subject matter experts. It was simply restored incorrectly…from top to bottom.
Our goal is to serve those buyers who want honest and correctly represented phonographs, with an exceptional warranty, and are willing to pay a premium for “the very best”. The “very best” does not necessarily imply “rare” or “expensive” or “mint condition” or "the most valuable". Those criteria will ultimately be defined by the details of condition and rarity (as reflected by the selling price). In our business, "the very best" implies that, whatever model or price range you choose, you are selecting something that is carefully described, is as authentic as possible, and has been tested, repaired, restored, or refurbished by the best technicians in the business. A solid value you can count on. We also accurately represent and fully warrant a few machines in our stock that have been well-restored by others (but we will clearly state that is the case). But even if someone else restored it, we still perform a complete tear-down, rebuild and test of all mechanical systems before it is ready to sell. Our listings will accurately describe all condition issues, both positive and negative, and we grade very conservatively. Our "for sale" stock varies in condition from "GOOD" to "SUPERB", but when you consider our critical inspection criteria, warranty, and experience, each one represents the best value for your money, regardless if you select a $400.00 or $10,000.00 model.
We don’t have any “bargains” or "fixer-uppers" available in our stock (most well-worn, damaged or incomplete machines that come into our inventory are either properly restored, torn-down for parts or wholesaled-out at auction). Our goal is to maintain the highest integrity in the hobby, and to achieve 100% customer satisfaction across the board. Therefore, we do not sell marginal or rough phonographs.
Of course, some will always grumble and blog that “I found a better one for lots less money at the junk sale last week”. Quite likely true, as there are always bargains to be found with enough time and enough luck. But if you don't want to spend your weekends sorting through flea markets, attempting to determine if your "find" is a historically accurate piece, and then trying to find someone to correctly repair and restore it, then please consider taking a look through our selection. What you will find are phonographs that are 100% historically correct, and have been repaired/adjusted for best possible performance by an experienced staff, and are unconditionally warranted for two full years. We are happy to let others express opinions all they want, as it neither offends us nor threatens our business model. We’ll stay focused on what we do best.