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VV-VIII

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The VV-VIII or Victrola the Eighth was a very popular tabletop phonograph; it was the lowest-priced Victrola model with a closeable lid. Its introduction in the fall of 1911 was concurrent with the launch of a wide lineup of newly-designed machines which included models such as the VV-IV and VV-IX.  Even though the VV-VIII was a basic 'no-frills' phonograph, it featured a well-crafted oak veneer cabinet, nickel plated hardware, a two-spring motor, a 10" turntable, and Victor's Exhibition Soundbox. Along with nearly all of the other newly-introduced models, sales of the VIII were strong from the start. Production of the VIII ran for more than 13 years, which was certainly a tribute to its success.
The earliest VV-VIII machines (left) used simple wood baffles to direct the sound from the tonearm base to the closely-spaced front horn-opening 'slats'; closable 'tone doors' were used to control the sound volume. 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. While many of the VIII'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. Picture at right shows a later-vintage model. The VV-VIII was only available in oak, but a wide variety of stain shades could be found.
Incremental suffix letters following the serial number represent small design changes. 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, the list price had risen to $50.00, which (due to inflation at that time) equates to $750.00 today. Based on factory documentation, a total of just over 185,500 Victrola VIII models were produced; however, based on serial numbers of surviving examples, at least 232,000 were ultimately made. Production of the VIII was terminated in the spring of 1924.
As with many other Victrola models, the VIII 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-VIII models were shipped to markets in Latin America, or sold during the company's 'half-price' sale during the summer of 1925. Interestingly, the majority of logged serial numbers of VIII models after 180,000 are now located in Central or South America. 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-VIII (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 888 and the latest to be S/N 231902

Manufacture Date Approximate Serial Number Range Feature Notes
1911 501-9100 Simple knob speed control on earliest machines, flat crank shank. Semi-circular speed control and A suffix starts at S/N 5500.
1912 9100-24500 Machines have an A or B suffix.  
1913 24500-40000   Machines have a C suffix. Cast iron elbow and wood horn assembly added.
1914 40000-57500 Machines have a C, D or E suffix. 
1915 57500-65000 F suffix. Round crank shank added
1916 65000-80000 Most machines have an F suffix
1917 80000-94500 F suffix ends mid-year. Some machines have a dash after the model identification. G suffix introduced, using small glass speed control at S/N 86800. VIII-A* designation introduced in Sept (s/n 89000)
1918 94500-103000   
1919 103000-118000  VIII-A* ends late in year
1920 118000-137500    
1921 137500-146000  No. 2 Soundbox added
1922 146000-160000    
1923 160000-200000    Overproduction likely resulted in stockpiling at plant. Large shipments to Latin America begin
1924 200000-232500    Model officially discontinued mid-year. Many were shipped to Latin America

* 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-VIII? 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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