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Section One: Victor Products

Victor, Victrola, Electrola and Orthophonic, are the brand names for phonographs made by the Victor Talking Machine of Camden, New Jersey during the period 1901 through 1929. Victor was an independent company during that time, and was not affiliated with RCA. The RCA Corporation bought Victor in late 1929, and they continued to use the Victor and Victrola names and logos on their products for many years after the purchase (e.g. "RCA Victor"). Thus, you can find "Victrola" products that were made by RCA all the way into the 1970's. Our expertise is only with Victor Talking Machine Company products. RCA products are not covered on this website.  Please don't email us asking about your 1936 (or 1958) Radio-Phono Combination "RCA Victrola", because unfortunately, we have no data on any RCA-Victor products. That isn't our area of expertise.

All Victor products are clearly marked in several places with the "Victor Talking Machine" identification and dog/phonograph logo. If you can't find these identifiers on your phonograph, it is not a Victor product! There is usually a metal dataplate near the turntable (or under it) that has model and serial number information. We will cover the topic of deciphering the dataplate information as you continue to read onward.

If your phonograph says "Edison", "Sonora", "Columbia" "RCA" or anything except Victor Talking Machine Co. on the label or decal, it is NOT a Victor Phonograph. It will also have the Victor dog logo someplace (top right).  There were literally hundreds of different phonograph brands during the early part of this century, and some people incorrectly call them all Victrolas. Just like they incorrectly call all copy machines "Xerox Machines". The other brands are not Victrolas, they are Edison or Sonora or Columbia (or whatever) phonographs. If you can't find the don't have a Victor!

If your phonograph is a Victor Talking Machine Co. product, it will say "Victor Talking Machine Company" somewhere...and it won't say RCA anywhere!

Unfortunately, there are dishonest sellers all over the world who misrepresent phonographs in numerous ways; since the demand for Victor phonographs is quite high for certain models, there is often a financial incentive to create a "fake". One scheme is to put a "VICTOR" identification plate on a cheap off-brand machine, and another common fraud is to make a "Frankenphone" by piecing-together bits and parts from all kinds of sources. In both cases, they are usually passed-off as valuable and legitimate antiques. New reproduction components are still being made in China and India, and are frequently seen on Ebay and elsewhere.  The typical cheesy quality of the metal parts and glassy smooth pine wood cabinets are dead giveaways. These replicas have no collector value whatsoever. A few of the indicators of a "phoney phonograph" are seen in the images below.

If you want information on other brands, we suggest that you search the links on the Websites of The Antique Phonograph Society or the The Canadian Antique Phonograph Society (CAPS). These organizations have many outstanding collectors who specialize in different brands of phonographs. 


Examples of Non-Victor Products:


The unit on the left is an Edison Wind-Up Phonograph. In the center is a 1940's RCA Victor "Victrola" Radio/Phono set. On the right, a Sonora phonograph.  The Edison and Sonora were not made by Victor and thus are not covered on this website. RCA bought Victor in 1929, and continued the Victrola name for many years. RCA products are also not covered here.

This site covers only phonographs made by the Victor Talking Machine Co. We have NO info on non-Victor brands or on post-1929 RCA products. 

Identifying Fake Victor Products:


Nipper on Steroids: There are many different styles of reproductions dataplates, which are often placed on fake machines. None of them have high-quality graphics. From left to right: 1) the dog on this Chinese-made reproduction plate has apparently been undergoing illegal steroid treatments causing his muscles to bulge and his head to shrink; 2) A reproduction plate from Mexico made by someone who has been sampling too much tequila. Both Victor and Edison brands are represented on this plate, along with the meaningless term "Graphonole" and an 1884 date. RCA is also mentioned just to make it more confusing to the buyer. Makes absolutely no sense. 3) a "re-cut" plate from a legitimate common 1920's Victrola model that was modified and mounted on a fake external horn machine to make it appear "authentic". The rough and chopped edges and wide brass outline are dead giveaways. 4) The real thing. Victor had very high quality control when these plates were made, and never produced poorly designed or cheaply struck examples. While there are several versions of authentic plates, the quality of the striking and images are always very good. However, even correct original plates can be removed from junked Victrolas and placed on cheap reproduction machines. There are a lot of very clever crooks out there!



Low Quality and Goofy-Looking Designs are a Sure Indication of a Fake: Victor never made "dual" horn models (left), and a correct Victor metal horn was never embossed with designs. Legitimate horns never point this sharply upward. The crude and uneven quality of this cast backbracket holding the horn (center), is a dead giveaway of a cheap reproduction machine (never mind that "RCA Victor" appears  in weak lettering on a phonograph supposedly made years before the RCA Corporation even existed). The monstrosity on the right is a poster-child for cheap reproductions. Poorly soldered and abruptly-angled horn joints, a soundbox "dangling" from the tonearm without a support, the crank in the wrong location sticking out awkwardly at an angle, and a cheap pine case. Pure junk!


Does your phonograph have this exact kind of decal?? (note the "Gramophone Company LTD" at the very bottom):


If so, you have an "HMV" product, made in Great Britain by The Gramophone Company, which licensed the trademark dog and phonograph logo for use in Europe. This company was not directly associated with the Victor Talking Machine Company, although they did share some similar products. HMV phonographs are not covered on this webpage, and I have no information on these machines.




Various emblems/decals/signs may also appear on your Victor product (examples below). These were placed on the phonograph by the selling dealer, and were simply added for advertising purposes. Even other companies like Wurlitzer sold Victor machines, so these logos may also appear. They do not add value to your machine, nor are they very significant, except to identify where it was originally sold. A listing of some of the Victor Dealers across the country appears here.


A few of the dealer decals/plates typically installed on Victor products.



EXTERNAL HORN VICTOR.  If your Victor-labeled phonograph has an outside horn like the one below, it is called an "External Horn Victor" (or just "Victor"). These external horn machines are desirable collector items, and usually date from around 1900 up to the early 1920's.  Note that, in many cases, you may come across an old external horn phonograph with a missing horn that looks like a simple tabletop phonograph. These are easy to identify, as they have no doors or openings on the front of the cabinet for the sound to exit. Note that this is not a "Victrola" (which has the horn concealed inside), but is correctly termed a "Victor".




INTERNAL HORN VICTROLA.  If your Victor-brand phonograph has the horn inside the cabinet, typically with small doors that open and close in front of the horn opening (as shown below), you have a Victrola, which was the exclusive name the Victor gave to this particular design of phonograph. These were made in all shapes and sizes, including very small table models. Victrolas that were powered by electric motors instead of wind-up springs, were called Electrolas.





ORTHOPHONIC or ELECTROLA.  By the mid-1920's, Victor updated its product line, which now included electronic amplification, radios, automatic record changers, etc., as well as an advanced line of acoustic wind-up models. Some of these phonographs were installed in very large decorative cabinets, and were quite expensive at the time. These were typically called Orthophonic Victrolas, while the electric versions were called Electrolas.




Just as a reminder, before we go forward....

Go to Section 2: Term Reminders