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The VV-XVII or "Victrola the Seventeenth" was Victor's 'premium' phonograph listed in the company's 1916-1921 product catalogs. A year prior to its introduction, Victor had launched the magnanimous VV-XVIII as their top-of-the-line Victrola retailing for $300.00, which was $100.00 more than the VV-XVI 'flagship' model. This was an attempt to find a market 'niche for wealthy buyers who wanted an exceptionally elegant phonograph in their home.  Sales of the XVIII were far slower than expected; it was reduced in price and removed from the catalog one year later. The perception at Victor Headquarters may have been that the XVIII was just too expensive for most buyers. However, another important consideration may have been missed; beginning in 1914, the buying public's preferences had been slowly drifting away from high-end premium machines. The vast array of new and relatively inexpensive Victrolas (which performed and sounded identically to the high-price machines) were now becoming commonplace in homes. Therefore, ownership of a super-expensive phonograph no longer had the same degree of 'elite-appeal' as had been the case just a few years earlier when Victrolas were still considered to be unusual and elegant furnishings for wealthy buyers.
Introduced  in the fall of 1916 as a lower-cost replacement for the discontinued XVIII, the new VV-XVII was certainly an elegant and impressive machine, but markedly less ornate than its high-end predecessor. While it did share the bombe' style curved cabinet and nicely carved corner posts, the overall size was further reduced and the beaded trim on the doors was removed. The XVIII's exclusive cross-hatched veneers were replaced with nicely-figured brown or red mahogany. The base price of the XVII was set at $250.00, which equates to almost $6,000.00 in today's money.
As was the case with the XVIII, a number of appearance options were available; finishes in Circassian or American Walnut (left) added $50.00 to the price tag; a gold Vernis Martin finish (as was available on the VV-XVI and XVIII models) would double the list price; in addition, a few highly exotic finishes were produced, including "Japanese Lacquer" (right), which consisted of a glossy black lacquer coating with ornate oriental decals applied.
An electric motor option (designed as "VE-XVII") was also available, adding $50.00 to the list price.
The new XVII was certainly a beautiful Victrola, but did not quite measure-up in quality or detail to the exquisite XVIII which it had replaced. While the production output of the XVII was much higher than the earlier XVIII, the overall success of this new high-end Victrola was marginal. The high price was certainly a contributing factor; a very nice, full-size VV-XVI could be had for $50.00 less, and by 1919, the catalog list price of the XVII had risen to $300.00, which was the same cost as the discontinued (and 'too-expensive') VV-XVIII of just a few years earlier. Plus, the trend away from high-end machines and toward more 'popular' models continued to limit sales. While a total of approximately 20,700 VV-XVII machines were manufactured, this turned-out to be more than could be sold in the near-term. Many remained sitting in factory inventory waiting for orders. While production of cabinets for the XVII got off to a roaring start, output had slowed markedly upon the onset of the US involvement in World War One (April 1917); but per Robert Baumbach's "Victor Data Book", the shipping summaries indicate that as of mid-1918, the factory had shipped only 12,000 complete VV-XVII models, likely leaving about 8,700 cabinets stocked-away in plant storage waiting to be finished, assembled and ordered. This remaining inventory then slowly 'trickled out' to dealers well into 1921.
A total of just over 2,500 electric motor versions (VE-XVII) were made, all produced during 1916 and 1917.

The survival database currently shows the earliest existent VV-XVII to be S/N 504 and the latest to be S/N 21227
The earliest logged VE-XVII survivor is S/N 539 and the latest is S/N 2965

Manufacture Date Approximate Serial Number Range Feature Notes
1916 501-3500   Initially launched with "Exhibition" Soundbox.
1917 3501-12000   Updated to "fat" tonearm and "No. 2" Soundbox late in year
1918 12001-21300     Some likely produced as 'empty cabinets' to be finished and sold at a later date. Special "Japanese Lacquer" versions produced between s/n 15000 and 15139
VE-XVII Electric:          
1916 501-1100     Initially launched with "Exhibition" Soundbox.  
1917 1101-3040  "Fat" tonearm and No. 2 Soundbox introduced late in year

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