VTLA Serial Number 4675 Red Mahogany Finish
Build Date: March, 1908
Originality: 1 100% original, down to turntable felt
Overall Condition: 4+ Beautiful overall appearance, some light crazing on finish. Small repair (veneer chip) on lid
(See the Ratings/Condition page for our grading scales)
The concept of the "Victrola" (the horn mounted internally to the machine) was developed by Victor, and first put into production in the summer of 1906 with a model designation of "VTLA". Having the horn mounted inside the cabinet eliminated the massive and fragile external horn, which tended to be knocked-off and required a lot of space on top of a table. At the time of introduction, it was felt that the $200.00 price tag of the VTLA would make it unaffordable (it equates to over $5,000.00 in today's money!), and since Victor didn't have the capacity to build a large floor-standing cabinet in their plant, they contracted the cabinet building to the Pooley Furniture Company of Philadelphia to build several hundred as a marketing experiment. Once complete, the cabinets were shipped back to Victor, where the motor and reproduction mechanics from the Victor VI model were then installed, and a small quantity were built to see how the market responded. By Christmas of 1906, Victor knew that the Victrola was a roaring success, having sold every one that Pooley could produce and then some. Obviously, wealthy buyers loved the internal horn concept. The drawback to the first Pooley style was the flat lid and deeply recessed turntable, which required the user to "reach way down" to access the tonearm and records. A year later, Victor had tooled-up their plant to produce the large cabinets, and they modified the design by using a domed lid, which allowed the turntable to be placed higher in the cabinet, with much easier access. The machines continued to sell well, but the clientele was limited to those who could afford such an expensive luxury. The VTLA model was the only Victrola machine produced until the small tabletop VV-XII was introduced in June, 1909. 506 VTLA's were made in 1906, 3,559 in 1907 and 4,317 in 1908. It was a relatively small market in those years, which would quickly turn into a massive demand by the mid-teens once the selling prices dropped to more affordable levels.
In July 1909, the "VTLA" designation on the data plate was transitioned to "VV-XVI" (Victrola the Sixteenth), probably to avoid confusion with the new VV-XII, and by August, the carved 'filigree' design around the lid was eliminated, most likely to reduce production costs. In December, 1909, the cabinet size was expanded and made more ornamental, and most vestiges of the original "VTLA" model has disappeared for good, as the VV-XVI became the flagship model for the entire product lineup.
This early VTLA is of the early Victor design, including the carved filigree, smaller "L-door" cabinet and early-style Victor VI motor. It came out of central Indiana, and is mind-numbingly original. It has a well-figured veneer, with strong contrasts. All we did was deep-clean the finish, polish it and go through the mechanics. There is some crazing on the finish, as would be expected for a 106 year old piece of furniture, but the finish still has plenty of shine and has survived remarkably well. Even the top of the lid is scratch and ding free, with the exception of a very small old repair (most likely due to a chip of the veneer) on the side of the lid. We did not attempt to redo this chip, as it is far preferable to just leave it alone rather than risk damage to the original finish. This would be a great centerpiece of any collection, as these are very rarely found, especially in an untouched original condition. Many that we come across have damage, especially to the fragile filigree area under the lid. Try to find another early-vintage VTLA like this, in absolute original condition! Even the turntable felt is original (but we did replace two missing felt lid pads, so as to protect the lid lip). It was the 4,174th Victrola ever produced, which is saying something when you consider that well over 7,000,000 Victrolas were made by 1929.
You can find more on the VTLA and XVI by clicking here. This is a rare opportunity to purchase a very early VTLA, which has obviously been well cared for over its entire life. We also have the complete, correct set of VTLA record albums to go with this machine, at extra cost, if the buyer is interested.
As with all our phonographs, the motor, soundbox and all mechanical components have been torn down, cleaned and correctly rebuilt (by us). It comes with our 2 year unconditional performance warranty.
See it in action on YouTube! Click here.