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VV-VI

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The VV-VI or Victrola the Sixth, was a very popular tabletop "Victrola" internal-horn phonograph; it was a 'step-up' model with a larger cabinet and more powerful motor than the entry-level VV-IV model. Its introduction in the summer of 1911 was concurrent with the launch of a wide lineup of newly-designed machines which included models such as the VV-X and VV-IX.  Even though the VV-VI was a basic 'no-frills' machine, it featured a well-crafted solid oak cabinet, nickel plated hardware, a two-spring motor, and Victor's Exhibition Soundbox. Along with nearly all of the other newly-introduced models, sales of the VI were strong from the start. Production of the VI ran for more than 11 years, which was certainly a tribute to its success. It became Victor's second best-selling model of all time
The earliest VV-VI machines (left) used simple wood baffles to direct the sound from the tonearm base to the front horn-opening 'slats'; closable 'tone doors' were used to control the sound volume. A 10" turntable was used. It was not until 1913 that an actual horn assembly (consisting of a cast iron elbow and wood horn mouth) was used internally to improve the sound volume. At the same time, the cabinet was enlarged and the turntable was increased to a 12" diameter (picture at right). While many of the VI's design features evolved over the years (see breakdown below), it remained about the same in form and function as when it was when first introduced.  The VV-VI was only available in oak until about 1919, when mahogany became available as well. These cabinets, as was the case for all VV-IV and VV-VI models, were made by outside suppliers; assembly of the mechanical components was completed at the Victor plant in Camden, NJ.
Incremental suffix letters following the serial number represent incremental changes to hardware and mechanical components. The original 1911 selling price was $40.00, which equates to approximately $1,100.00 in today's money. By the time it was discontinued in 1924 indicate small upgrades to the motor and/or mechanical components. The original 1911 selling price was $25.00, which equates to approximately $700.00 in today's money. Based on factory documentation, a total of just over 697,000 Victrola VIII models were produced; however, based on serial numbers of surviving examples, at least 705,000 were ultimately made. Production of the VI was terminated in the spring of 1924.
Interestingly, serialization of the VV-VI apparently did not start at "501" as was the case for virtually all other Victrola models; based on a very large population sample of surviving machines, it appears that the first VV-VI to roll off the assembly line was tagged with a serial number of approximately 5400.
As with many other Victrola models, the VV-VI was a success for the company; but when sales of Victrolas began to slow in favor of radio, Victor failed to respond to the market changes by slowing their production rate. Therefore, in spite of lagging sales, many thousands of these machines continued to come off the assembly line, and the large network of dealers and distributors began bursting at the seams with unsold Victrolas. Due to this massive overproduction, it is likely that many late-production VV-VI models were shipped to markets in Latin America, or sold during the company's 'half-price' sale during the summer of 1925.  For more information on Victor's financial crisis of 1924-1925 and the overproduction of phonographs, please click here.
Due to the large volume that were originally produced, the VV-VI (and many similar low-cost Victrola models) are typically ignored by collectors today, unless in exceptional original condition. They are simply too basic in design, and far too many were produced to be considered 'collectible' in the current market.

The survival database currently shows the earliest existent VV-VIII to be S/N 5424 and the latest to be S/N 711718

Manufacture Date Approximate Serial Number Range Feature Notes
1911 5400-10000 10-inch turntable, flat crank shank
1912 10000-44000 Some machines have an A or B suffix
1913 44000-68000 C suffix early in year. 12-inch turntable introduced at S/N 54500.
1914 68000-117000 C suffix ends. D suffix started at approx S/N 87600. E suffix started approx S/N 97200.  F suffix started at S/N 103000. Round crank shank added and speed control moved to right front location with the start of F suffix. 
1915 117000-179500 F suffix. Many machines with an F suffix have a dash mark after the "VV-VI" identification. 
1916 179500-259000 F suffix
1917 259000-362000 F suffix for most of year. VI-A* designation used after 9/17
1918 362000-397000    
1919 397000-492500 VI-A* designation ceases during mid year.
1920 492500-583000  
1921 583000-605000  
1922 605000-645000  
1923 645000-680000  
1924 680000-712000  

* Note: the "A" designator after the model indicates a revised motor design. The A was later dropped from the dataplate, but the improved motor remained

Do you own a Victrola VV-VI? Please take a moment and enter some basic information about your machine into the collector's database by clicking here. No personal information is required.


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