We have four phonographs. The Victor Talking Machine Co manufactured most of them. The early machines had external horns. In 1906 Victor introduced "talking machines" with the horn actually "concealed within the cabinet". The new instruments were christened "Victor Victrolas". The choice of the "ola" suffix was likely prompted by the success of the Aeolea Company's Pianola. It wasn't until the mid 20's that RCA bought the Victor Talking Machine Co, and it became RCA Victor. So, while the term "Victrola" has become synonymous with phonographs, it is actually a brand name like Fridgedaire and Xerox.

This is a the VV-XI, or "Victor eleven". I bought this one in its already-restored condition. I guess I was just that fascinated with it! This model was first manufactured in 1912 and cost $100. Have you ever gone into an antique store and seen on of these sitting in a corner? If you show any interest in it, the proprietor will invariably approach and say "That old thing still works." Then he will crank it up and try to play an old record (with no grooves left) using the one needle that has been in the machine since it was put away in the attic in 1925!

Properly restored, these old machines are remarkably entertaining. Rule number one for easy listening: change the needle after each record. The needles wear quickly and a worn needle will quickly ruin the old records. New needles are still available and don't cost much. We were lucky enough to find a well-preserved collection of big band records. Some actually autographed by the bandleaders. Playing these old machines is a healthy pursuit. You need to get up, wind it, and replace the needle every two or three minutes.

We have two small tabletop models, a Victor Four and a Victor Six. The VV-IV was first manufactured in 1911 and cost $15. It has a single spring motor and only a wooden horn. The slats in the horn hide the motor. The VV-VI came out a few months after the "four" and cost #25. It had a double spring motor, a bigger case and a cast iron horn. This one may be the best sounding one of the bunch we have. These both came with nickeled hardware. Both were repaired and refinished. They were pretty well busted up when we got them.

This Victrola No. 280 was introduced in 1922. These cost in the $200 to $250 range. I refinished this one, too. It only needed a new 'O' ring and mica in the soundbox to make it work again. Refinishing it without losing the fancy logo in the lid was a little tricky, but it came out nice. This was the lowest priced of the "humpback" styles. It has gold plated hardware and a semi-automatic brake.