External Horn Decals
External horn Victor phonographs used a simple Victor logo decal on the horn during the entire production period. The banner under the dog reads "Victor Talking Machine"
Internal Horn (Victrola) Machines: Look Under the Lid
Every Victrola with a lid has a decal underneath, which became the primary brand identification for the company's phonographs for many years. Only the lidless machines (VV-IV, VV-VI, VV-1-1, VV-1-2, etc.) had the misfortune to be missing the fancy "Victrola" decal. Novice collectors often become excited that the decal is intact and in good shape on their Victrola, and many Ebay Victrola advertisements proudly show multiple close-up views of the decal. While the decal can provide some degree of information on the date and rarity of the phonograph, it is hardly rare or unusual for an 80 year old Victrola to have a decal in perfect condition, since it was likely well protected by the closed lid while the phonograph was in storage. In addition, the decal was applied before the finish coat on the wood was applied, offering additional protection. So, nice decals are not rare or unusual.
There were a total of 5 basic styles (with minor variations) of under-lid decals used on Victrolas during the 1906-1929 period. The first version (right) was used only on the earliest machines in 1906. This decal was probably used on only a few thousand (or less) phonographs at the very beginning of Victrola production. Thus, machines with this decal are both rare and highly desirable. It is easily identified by the highly flared "V's" and the lack of a decorative border around the wording.
The second iteration was used on Victrolas between 1907 and 1910, and uses a fancy border, without the use of the highly flared "V's". Machines from this vintage are considered relatively early, and often desirable from a collectors standpoint.
The third design series uses a "concave" Victrola title. This design was used from 1910 through 1925, and is the most common decal, appearing on literally millions of machines. This decal has a similar border as the Victor Victrola decal listed above; the word "Victor" has been dropped from the title, leaving simply "Victrola". The first variation of this decal (1910-1915) (right) has only the words "Manufactured By" underneath the large "Victrola" name (as shown in the drawing below). The later version (1916-1925) (below) has a very small line of Patent information squeezed between the large "Victrola" name and the "Manufactured By" sentence. It takes a sharp eye to see the difference between the two variations.
Electrically powered Victrolas, called "Electrolas", were introduced right before Christmas 1913. These early electrics still used an acoustic horn for reproduction, but eliminated the need for spring winding by using an AC/DC motor. After 1915, these electric machines were given a modified decal (far below) that indicated the electric motor feature.
Detail of later version decal, showing additional line of patent information before the "Manufactured By" line:
Electrically powered Victrolas were given an "Electrola" designation on the decal, beginning in 1915.
The fourth design came out in late 1925, and was used on the early Orthophonics. It used a square border, and a rather simple modern design.
The fifth design, first appeared in mid-1926, and was used on many models until RCA purchased Victor in 1929. This is a triangular emblem, and is quite common on Orthophonics.
The sixth (and final) design appeared on electronically amplified Victrolas and radio-phono combination sets in the fall of 1925. Like the electrically powered Victrolas introduced in 1913, these machines were also referred to as "Electrolas", but used a triangular decal similar to #5 (above). Note that the Electrola name used after 1925 refers to electronically amplified machines, while the 1913-1924 use of the Electrola name refers only to the use of an electric motor (rather than springs) to power the turntable.
Note: Some Orthophonic Victrolas produced in Canada in the late 1920's used a slightly modified decal, with the word "Orthophonic" above the name. A number of variations on this design have been documented, some with additional advertising phrases incorporated into the design.
Immediately after RCA purchased Victor Talking Machine Company in 1929, all products (many using the earlier Victor designs) used a "transition" decal as seen below. Note the reference to "Victor Talking Machine Division". This decal was replaced with the familiar RCA Victor logo by the early 1930's. Machines bearing this decal are considered RCA machines, and are not covered on this website.