Victrola

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Victrola model G: the outtakes Sept. 30, 2016

Published October 1, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

In all of my nine plus years of amassing a huge 78 collection that vary in condition from playable to excellent, there are a certain few that fly under my radar that are in extremely poor to terrible condition. There’s surface noise and that’s to be expected for a 78 that was released eighty-eight years ago. There’s no buyer’s remorse on my part. I buy 78’s if I feel they are in ‘playable’ condition at the very least. Condition-wise, I’m not too terribly picky if the 78 is near mint, very good, excellent condition, etc. And I do realize I could be doing my Victrola more harm than good opting for the undesirable 78s. So long as there’s no needle drops, huge scratches or gouges that would render the 78 unplayable, then I will buy it if the price doesn’t exceed $5 per record and even at that I find that’s a tad steep for the more common 78s.  Oh, yeah, if they’re cracked, don’t waste your money just some helpful first-hand experience. 😉

I don’t know what possessed me to stop in a used furniture store on a day I had to be somewhere. Normally, I don’t like to browse when I know I really can’t make the time. But it was the same place I acquired my Victrola model G. I was very excited that I finally got it fully repaired from the mainsprings to the sound box that required an overhaul and new rear flange gasket. That much about it was well worth it and I knew it would require some extensive work that was beyond my capabilities since I haven’t serviced any of my antique phonographs in over nine years. Yet again, none of them require any work since I had them restored professionally eons ago.

I glance at my wrist watch, counting off the minutes. I appear to be in a hurry, but I still have time to look around before I head off and start my day. I always try to make it a point to take in the beauty of various antiques at least once a day. I always use antiques in my daily life. Its what brings me happiness. Some people can’t start their mornings off right without their favorite cup of coffee or a latte, maybe even a cappuccino. And other folks probably don’t get off on the right foot without their nicotine fix before their lunch break.

 

I don’t smoke. I don’t consume caffeine. I will, however, pack some toothpicks on me and some steeped hot tea for when its cold outside. Otherwise, I keep my creature comforts to a minimal when I have to be at work. I reward myself when I do arrive home after work. And here I found myself in the small second hand store on the corner. I browse through the books and a dusty, massively thick Webster’s dictionary catches my eye. The binding has come completely loose from the spine. The pages are all there and in tact. I gingerly remove the antique dictionary. It was an “Original Webster’s Unabridged” dictionary published in 1874. The price scared me. $39.99, holy mackerel! Are they serious? :O

I scrutinize the antique dictionary for a long moment, then glance at the time. I needed to be on my way. Another day, another dollar so the saying goes. I return the dictionary to the bookshelf and get ready to leave when something small catches my eye. I’m gazing at two 5 ½” Little Wonder one-sided disc records from 1909. These were actually tiny shellac records made for a child-sized upright antique phonograph. However, I couldn’t say for certain whether or not they’d play on Victrola since I didn’t have any Little Wonder discs in my collection to say for certain. I know from past experience I had difficulties with similar 7” Parakeet shellac records manufactured sometime during the early 1900 to mid-Teens, so naturally, I wrongly assumed the same would hold true for these Little Wonder records. And there was a Cameo 78 that called out to me.

I ask the man at the counter how much for the 78’s and was told $2.99 per record. Uhm… I feel that is asking a bit much. I politely thanked him, placed the records back and waited until I could do some research. Depending on the rarity of the Little Wonder records and who the artist was that recorded the song(s), I surfed onto eBay and did some price-comparison. $2.99 was looking okay for what these tiny records are. And so I bide my time. I return to the store when another person is working. I’m quoted a steeper price for the records. Again, I kindly thanked the person and went on my way.

Yeah, they’re one of a kind. Okay, they’re “special records”, but Cameo 78s are common to run across although inferior in sound quality and material-wise. Little Wonder shellac records don’t turn up all that often, so I’ll give credit where its due on that for being extra special. But the prices for the Little Wonders online vary in price and their condition were no less than what I discovered in this store. I think about it for a long while. If they’re still there come some other time then I’ll know it was meant to be.

And they were there when I returned, so I bought them and the Cameo 78. Another Fox Trot song and who is the artist this time? Sam Lanin and His Orchestra “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” and the flipside “He Ain’t Never Been to College” by the Varsity Eight. Both songs were released in 1928. And last night I finally made the time to do more recordings, something I haven’t done in quite a while. But the recording process doesn’t always run smoothly, thus the outtakes and bloopers happen.

Oh, the Little Wonders played excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the songs, “I Want to Go Back to Michigan” duet disc No. 60. It sounded a lot like Ernest Hare and Billy Jones from the Edison Diamond Discs I have of them. And the other song, “Beets and Turnips” – [Little Wonder] Band disc No. 30. Both songs were released sometime in 1914. The Michigan song dates somewhere between 1914-15. The flipside of the one-sided Little Wonders have patent dates of Nov. 1909. These are some incredibly old tiny disc records pushing 107 years old (if going by the patent dates, that is). The sound quality of the Little Wonders exceeded my expectations. I was satisfied and my little one-bedroom was full of cheerful music for a little bit. I tried the Cameo 78 next. The song He Ain’t Never Been to College recorded nice in one take, no problems there.

 

Then the unexpected happened and it worried me when I played the flipside of the Cameo 78. It sounds very worn out due to the surface wear and tear that’s common for a record that’s likely been played many times over. But until last night I never encountered a 78 that would make the sound box lag and the turntable slow down and eventually stop all together. Worried doesn’t cut it. I was almost heart sick thinking of all the problems that can happen to a Victrola. The mainsprings might have hardened grease, but this would have been eliminated since the machine was completely overhauled by a professional in July. Another troubleshooting idea popped into my head; maybe the mainsprings slipped out of alignment in their barrels. Yikes! That’s an invasive and costly repair. Then I decided to try playing the same 78 on a different baby upright Victrola of mine that’s been my secondary recording machine. Surely, two machines are not alike.

Well, same problem occurred on the baby Victrola. And I couldn’t figure it out.

How can two machines encounter the same exact problem? Was this particular song cursed? Is the past deceased owner of said 78 trying to send me a message from the great beyond? What about the… oh, heck. Just try a lighter weight reproducer and so that’s what I did. Now the final recording didn’t come from the Victrola G as I had planned. I had to record the 78 playing it on my Edison C-19 with the proper 78 Ken-Tone attachment and it played okay. Not good, but its late. I’m tired. I want to get this last song uploaded to my MP3 player so I can call it a night. Edison has always been my ‘go-to’ phonograph when making recordings. In the beginning I didn’t always have a Victrola to fall back on. Therefore, my Edison C-19 picked up all the slack of my recording processes. I was relieved to know that my expensive Victrola G didn’t fall to crap after all and neither had my baby Victrola. Do I care to try Cream in My Coffee Fox Trot on my other upright?… Nope. So, hopefully I haven’t bought a cursed 78 and if I did, then eh, oh well. I suppose if the darned Fox Trot is cursed it wouldn’t be the first song to go down infamy for that. Thanks for reading, commenting, blogging, sharing, tweeting. I truly appreciate it a lot! 🙂

 

 

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The Edison C-19 story and how it all began.

Published June 10, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

It’s a long fascinating journey, and it’s very atypical of a young woman taking up as a serious hobby, but somehow things just ‘fell into place’ and took off from there.

 

It was right before my great grandmother passed away in 2003, I believe and I had been writing back home to her like clockwork about all the new antiques I was slowly, but surely, accumulating, so-to-speak. She was thrilled and wrote back one letter in particular that stated she wanted me to have some coal oil lamps for my antique dresser (at this time it wasn’t Eastlake, but it was from probably the early 1900’s). She went onto say that she wanted me to have her celluloid dresser set with hair brush and comb and corset cover. I have since acquired all those items, plus some cigar boxes that belonged to my great grandfather (her first husband) and his folding metal ruler with worn leather case. Oh, and dad got the Victrola, and in our family that was a big ‘to-do’. Rather it was more of a matter to see that it arrived safely to its new home and it did. In our family you had to help out with chores in order to earn the right to listen to the Victrola. And in 1990 during that one blazing hot summer, I received that same right to listen to the Victrola for the first time after I helped great grandmother wash dishes. At the time I was thirteen and likely had seen the Victrola  before at my great grandparent’s, but never took any fascination to it.

 

In fact, the fascination that surrounded that particular Victrola machine wouldn’t come back to haunt me (pun intended), until I was in my late Twenties. By this time my great grandmother’s health was failing and just how serious it really was was alarming since she’d always had the mind sharp as a tack and at the last we’d became very close pen-pals since I was living in the state over. Most of all she became my biggest ally during a time in my young teenage years when I had none, especially when it came to the topic of old music. She sided with me which I found astonishing when I was thirteen and she naturally shared a lot of my views as well. I later find out that the Flapper era (she was a part of at fifteen and married to her first husband, by the way) centered around pushing the envelope much like every coming up generation did or tried to do after hers. However, a flapper would smoke and drink (when prohibition was enforced and the country was dry), and powder her nose in public which was once considered taboo in my great grandmother’s time. And nowadays we just whip out the powder compacts like its nothing. She told me to wear my makeup because we earned the right and to treat it like gold. And she was right. Makeup is still expensive to this very day, but I found myself weeding out a lot of my old makeup like used mascaras and old eye shadows that wound up in the trash due to potential bacteria concerns. That, and I hardly wear makeup anymore because it irritates my skin.

 

Shortly before she passed away I wrote letters to her constantly not ever receiving a reply. My suspicion that something wasn’t right didn’t go unfounded for very long. At first I was kept in the dark about how she was being terribly abused by her caregiver. I often wondered after the fact if that’s why she never wrote me back. Perhaps her caregiver tossed my letters in the trash. And I also heard that my great grandmother would have her good days, and bad. Her mind was going and she wouldn’t be able to recognize family members at the very last. I had told my dad’s mother about not getting any replies and how odd I found it, and then told my dad’s mother that she must have been mad at me for buying an Edison phonograph instead of a Victrola (like we have in the family). Shocked over hearing my wrong assumption, my dad’s mother flew out of the house and told me that wasn’t the case at all, and then proceeded to explain to me that great grandmother’s mental health had been in decline since the death of her husband a year or so before and then she eventually suffered heart failure at the very last. And there was a lot of elder abuse by her caregiver as well which was frankly, horrible, shocking and inexcusable.

But for many years after great grandmother’s death I began to have nightmares about that Victrola. And in all these nightmares I see myself glancing at the turntable and not seeing a 78 on it. I must add to that at this point in time I hadn’t received a record list of music in great grandmother’s collection. There were two records I distinctly remember hearing when I was thirteen, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo” and it was on a black bat wing Victor 78, however, the artist escaped my mind. But Carl Fenton’s Orchestra had did a rendition of that song on a Brunswick 78 that matches the artist I heard that day so long ago.

And that same day in the summer of 1990 we also listened to rural comic, Cal Stewart “Uncle Josh in a Chinese Laundry” and “Uncle Josh on a bicycle”. I remember it fondly because great grandmother asked me what I liked to do for a past time, flashing me a wise all-too-knowing smirk, then happily flipped through those old leather bound record books before selecting a 78. I rattled off, “Skateboarding,” since at this time it was still very much a male-dominated sport and there weren’t too many girl skateboarders that were die-hard serious about skateboarding. When I say die-hard, they had the expensive top-of-the-line skateboards and high end ball-bearing wheels like I had on my beloved Mark Gonzales Vision ‘mini’-skateboard. Due to my pint size I couldn’t ride a regular adult skateboard so for a brief while they made mini-versions of the original sizes. Very cute and highly collectable and I’m kicking myself now for not hanging onto said skateboard and keeping it put up. 😮

 

Well, Uncle Josh lived long before the invention of skateboards and he passed away in 1919. I had to try another and I said, “Bicycle”. And great grandmother placed a 78 on the turn table, cranked up the machine and released the brake. The record spun around faster than anything I’d seen and she placed the steel needle on the 78. The sound just filled the room. The comic laughed with a now familiar laugh that will forever resonate in my ears and draw me close to a Victrola and/ or Edison. I have some of this same comic’s rural sketches on the Edison Diamond Disc too. And it will always take me back to that first moment I laid eyes and ears on that particular machine. And in my nightmares about that Victrola, no 78 existed. In my waking hours I couldn’t make sense of it. I mean, why now so many years later and after her death was I beginning to have nightmares about the family-owned Victrola?

My ex-boyfriend summed it up: it could actually be a sign that these 78’s no longer existed in her collection since I kept having the nightmare repeatedly for a year and half after her death. When the day came that my dad’s mother mailed me the record list, I held out a glimmer of hope, but wasn’t too disappointed to discover that neither copy of “Uncle Josh on Bicycle” or that of the song “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’” didn’t make the list. I mean, unless we had a Mandela effect happen back in 1990 that summer, those were the 78s we listened to. I also found out before my dad’s mother passed away that it wasn’t uncommon for great grandmother to throw away broken 78s simply because the sentimental attachment to them wasn’t there. Sure, they may be hard to find 78’s nowadays and eventually I found descent copies from eBay years later and it was well worth the wait. A very eerie twist to this Edison phonograph story is that I have almost duplicated all the copies of all of my great grandmother’s 78s long before I received the record list in hand, minus my collection doesn’t contain any of the Decca 78’s though.

As they say great minds think alike and perhaps there was this certain compulsion that drove me to spend hours in the freezing cold out in a shed of one antique store in particular during the winter of 2004 and in the heat of summer searching and sorting for foxtrots and early jazz with some instrumental and sentimental ballad 78s thrown in as well. I never did get around to itemizing a full list of my own 78s but really should do it sometime soon and then back them up to a jump drive or as like to call a ‘Tom thumb’ drive.

It wasn’t until 2008 amidst another family crisis when I finally did find a sense of closure and the nightmares about the Victrola ended when I visited my great grandmother’s grave for the first time. And on her grave I placed a personally inscribed Edison Diamond Disc that was too worn out to be played, plus I had said song on backup copy.

I didn’t go to great grandma’s funeral which shocked many in my family because we had been close in the beginning and also in the end, and she had been the only grandma with no fear that stepped in and helped my parents care for me when I was a sickly premature baby. I only found out years later I was her favorite out of the fifteen great grandchildren.

After the Edison C-19 came a few more upright antique phonographs and table tops too, but that’s the one that started all and still remains. The Edison C-19 took a major hit when I thought I wanted to ship it off and have it completely and thoroughly cleaned, then had a sudden change of heart. Something just didn’t feel right and I quick as I could made the place where I shipped it to send it back after much back and forth email exchanges where they tried convincing me they’d be more than happy to keep it for as long as needed. Mind you, at this point, there had been no work done on this machine, but boy howdy, did I learn a valuable lesson to never, ever ship off an entire mainboard assembly with the horn attached in a box several states away. Not only did the horn arrive broke from it’s lift rod, but the turntable platter appeared to have been met with a cheese grater and it the green felt was in almost near mint condition before I shipped it off. I did insure the machine for what I paid for it, but never filed a claim with an insurance adjuster because it would have been my word against the place I shipped it to, and it would have been difficult to pin point if it was a simple case of human shipping error on my behalf, or if the damage had been deliberately caused. Either way, I’m sure the place I shipped it too is laughing their butts off, figuring there wouldn’t be a snowball chance in heck that I’d be capable of repairing the whole phonograph to working order, and as luck would have, I did with my ex-boyfriend’s help. We worked hours soldering the horn back onto the lift rod, then spray-painted over the repaired spots with black paint, let it dry and still the biggest test was yet to come…

We’re our efforts all in vain? Or did we just fix the impossible? It wound up okay, and the horn lift knob had a burr in it. The wooden lever was broke and I had to buy a replacement for that plus another screw and believe me, you can’t find either at Ace Hardware. So those had to be special-ordered from an entirely different outfit with much better prices. And the horn still ‘hangs-up’ and won’t set down on the record which is due to the damage the phonograph incurred, that and I never did get around to fixing the lift knob yet.

It wound up alright and by 1: 45 am we heard it play again. At this time I was emailing another repairman who offered to sell me an entire mainboard assembly since trying to solder those old horns back in place were impossible to do. We did it using lead solder and fluxing compound (the old kind that plumber’s used to use) that my ex-boyfriend had lying around. And we also used a hand-held blow torch. So that Edison C-19 oak cabinet had been put through heck and back and I’m now more the wiser since my early days. It still plays and it still gives off that slight haunted vibe from time to time, although it’s faded through the years since I’ve owned it. But in the beginning owning this Edison C-19 was brand new to me. I didn’t always understand the mechanics behind them other than they don’t use electricity to operate. They use a hand crank that winds up the mainsprings, that in turn, play an Edison Diamond Disc.

Some other machines were sold here and there because I either needed the money for some other project or simply ran out of space. Mind you, all nine of these machines stayed in one bedroom along with the cylinder phonographs and table tops. And when I moved, I traded off a few to upgrade to a slightly higher end model of an Edison Amberola 75 and gave away one table top model and one suitcase model Victrola to my friend.

It’s the collecting part that’s half the fun, but its when these antiques are restored to their fullest potential that makes all those searches, all that time and money spent, all that hard, extensive hands-on work truly pay off. And I have the habit of preserving these 78’s on cd and upload them to my MP3 player as well.

And just some slice of wisdom; should you ever turn around and sell these antique phonographs you probably won’t get out of them what you put into getting them fully restored. People will try to price-gouge you as well. So be leery of the ‘want something for nothing’ types that will try to beat you up and walk all over you if the day should ever come you need to part with one of those beautiful wind-ups. I know as a seller of these antique phonographs it’s very much like working in retail. You deal with all sorts of online customers sight unseen, and if they want museum “mint” antique phonographs, why do they buy mine knowing well in advance nothing will be showroom perfect? I clearly state if the phonographs has had any repair work done to it and not to expect factory new results. These machines are very simple and they are what they are. There is no bass boost on a Victrola. If you use a Tungs-tone stylus or a Loud tone needle then you might break the sound barrier when you play John Phillip Sousa. And once the cabinets are refinished, they’ll lose whatever value they had to begin with.

 

So, my best advice to you: leave the cabinet alone, please and don’t attempt to varnish them. You will get more money out of it if it’s left un-restored.  Now rarity and price, I would be more than happy to share at The Victor Victrola page. Note: I don’t own nor operate this website. It is a database reference for makes and models of Victrola only. They do not cover Edison phonographs. There are books (in print) that are collector’s guides, but I’ve noticed nearly all of those are very expensive and don’t contain enough information (specs) about the machines other than showcasing some expensive (out of my attainable reach) museum quality phonographs. Now the best book for restoring these antique phonographs is The Compleat Talking Machine.

 

Thanks for reading, liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting. I truly appreciate it. There’s more to come but it’ll take me time to add to this blog and will as I can find the time to do so. 🙂

What could possibly happen?

Published January 10, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

Vic hacked I speak in terms of the ‘talking machines’ that are less fortunate when they’re the victim of a ‘shabby chic’ craft person that totally decimates the phonograph as shown in the picture.

I gravitated to this small upright low end Victrola cabinet in a used furniture store and felt sorry for it. The mainspring and all components were gutted. The only remote thing that lent to this Victrola giving itself away was its spindly legs, carved moldings and the record storage was in tact. Whoever ruined this antique phonograph disassembled the lid (chopped it up), then nailed it to the cabinet so it couldn’t be lifted up.

This particular antique phonograph was once a gorgeous dark mahogany. By outward appearances though, its battle ship gray paint job, missing back bumpers, screws, and original sticker license (found glued to the back of these machines) was absent. What model was this phonograph? Might have ended with the suffix “J” very similar to a Victrola I had for a long time and later parted with.

So what happens to the off-brand and low end model antique phonographs that don’t get restored when they’re not being butchered for something ‘shabby chic’ and will have lost all value on the collector’s market?

As I spoke with a good acquaintance that deals strictly with antique phonographs of all makes and models they told me most are gutted and the cabinets chopped up for firewood. The reason being most of the lesser known antique phonographs don’t have much appeal (collector-wise), and some, if not all of them back in their heyday were built with plate and pillar mechanisms and very cheaply outfitted with odds and ends that are very obsolete to find nowadays. Sure, some of the more obscure phonographs might be worth looking into, especially if it’s a Brunswick model 350, for example that were so ornate and expensive to produce that not many sold in 1918 and therefore that particular model was phased out a year later in 1919.

But this little Victrola I happened across is a lost cause. Don’t ask me why people chop these up and ruin them. Thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging and commenting. I sincerely appreciate it as always! 🙂

Something old, something new: One Victrola’s mysterious journey.

Published December 29, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Vic VVXIV for wordpress Picture of a Victrola VV-XIV.

There’s a poor behemoth Victrola VV-XIV tightly wedged between a long metal filing cabinet and a tiny portion of bookshelf space in a used furniture store. I promised myself, “no more” in regards to restoring these beautiful wind-up antique phonographs simply because the cost to restore them can outweigh the price you pay for the machine.

And it was only twice I seen a gold-plated Victrola model. The last one I had seen at a thrift store was beat to heck and back. There was rust all over it and it reeked of stagnant mold damage like it had been dredged up from the depths of a leaky basement– or worse, perhaps. And the thirft store was charging $368! There were 78s adhered to the storage shelves. It was a pitiful mess of Tetanus waiting to happen. And that baby upright Victrola didn’t stay in the thrift store very long. Don’t know if it was ever bought or sold, or made its way to the landfill.

But this large upright gold-plated Victrola was in far better condition. The cabinet was clean (although dusty), and it requires some major and minor TLC. It’s a labor of love I’d happily accept.

And this Victrola’s provenance (history of its previous owners and what state it came from) is completely N/A (non-applicable). This Victrola didn’t come with any paperwork and that’s to be expected. There was no instruction booklet (sometimes these do surface).

I have no clue who owned this antique talking machine, but it likely dates around Aug. 1, 1913 (checked the sticker on the back at the lower left hand corner). And I did some cross-reference from this fantastic site: The Victor Victrola page before I decided to return to the store.

This talking machine has been around a day or two. Sure the cabinet has a few nicks, a minuscule white paint speck here and there. Overall the ornate carved moldings are present and appear to be in good condition for their age. And nope, it’s not even close to being museum quality or even pristine condition. Most antique phonograph collectors with disposable incomes won’t even consider these less glossy talking machines or rather, let me say, cosmetically-challenged Victrolas that have veneer loss and/ or alligator-like cabinets due to separation of the original gloss. The stain appears to be red mahogany or something similar. And my Christmas present finally arrived yesterday morning.

I had the sales person give me an in-store demonstration long before I ever decided to get this particular Victrola. I cringed when I heard “At the Pawn Shop” by Guy Mitchell. I have nothing against this artist. For the love of Nipper, (Victrola’s mascot Fox Terrier), don’t ever play a 1950s 78 on a Victrola—ever. I stress this because the record grooves are different and can’t handle the heavy weight of a talking machine’s reproducer nor that of the steel needle that will act like a pumice stone thus causing groove walls of the 78 terrible wear and tear. Plus its very damaging to the mica diaphragm and creates an unpleasant shrill to the ears. Also, 78s recorded on or after 1935 is the cut-off point due to differences in the recording/cutting processes.

And I will always have Guy Mitchell’s song stuck in my head from now on whenever I lay eyes on this once proud, stunning glorious talking machine that was one of two flagship models in the Victor-Victrola line. It was $200 brand new back in 1913 or thereabouts. It is well over $4,000 in today’s money according to the Federal Reserve inflation calculator.

And it’s going to need critical TLC. As I suspected (and scrunched my shoulders when listening to it play in the store), the mainspring(s) were broke, possibly. They weren’t thumping per se, one—perhaps all three mainsprings are possibly weak which is very common on nearly all un-restored Victrolas nowadays if not well cared for by its former owner(s). I suspected such and figured up additional costs it’s going to take to get this beautiful talking machine to perform as it once did.

Three red flags went up in my mind aside from the common potential mainspring breakage, the internal horn shifted inside the cabinet. Also, there was scoring to the main board bolts likely due to someone using the wrong type of screw driver. And its missing four tiny gold-plated screws from its lid, which indicates to me the lid had been removed at some point.

Regardless, I’m happy with the new Victrola. It came with its own record duster (not often found with these machines), three packs of old original needles, and the cabinet key that’s original to the machine as well. The folks in the furniture store told me that a man tried to walk off with the cabinet key. This is because they are extremely hard to come by, very pricey when found, and seldom if ever, are retained with the phonograph.
I don’t plan to get into a massive rush to get the mainsprings repaired nor do will I have the Exhibition reproducer overhauled anytime soon. I decided to take the leisurely (or lazy approach) with this machine. The talking machine plays, but the mainsprings violently protest while it plays a 78 and sounds like one of the springs is uncoiling inside the barrel. And no, it’s not the ever common “thump,” “thump”, “thump” from dried grease in the mainspring barrels, its more than likely broken. I know since I own and serviced my own talking machines in my younger days and can detect by listening if its going to be something major that will require professional assistance or something minor like dried grease in the mainsprings.

I froze outside yesterday without a coat on so I could clean the caked on grease from the governor and worm drive shaft. And I remembered to put a few generous drops of Hoppie’s oil in the bushing and tips before I re-assembled it. That’s the extent of my main board adventure. There’s a few things I didn’t mess with simply because the majority of it calls for a professional, something of which, I’m not.

The cabinet was cleaned using Murphy’s Oil Soap and a clean cloth and cotton balls for the more intricate wood carvings. I then vacuumed inside the machine after I extracted ten or so needles, both steel and Fibre (bamboo kind). I didn’t stumble upon any hidden treasures. There was no Prohibition alcohol stuffed inside, no money either. But, hey, one can always dream. I heard various stories of people finding peculiar things inside these antique phonographs when they go to restore them that is.
And something tells me my new Victrola spent its life either near the Ocean in a beach front home, or elsewhere in a similar corrosive environment near salt water. The gold-plated hardware shows corrosion and has seen a lot of use as evident by the worn mark on the goose-neck tone arm. It came with a few record books that contained several 12” 78s. There were some nice one-sided red and also black bat wing label records, two dark purple Victor 78’s by Harry Lauder (a favorite of mine) and some modern 33 1/3” shoved in the books. And the other books contain…nothing. Oh, well.

Here’s how to decipher the types of music commonly found on a Victor 78 (I didn’t get around to covering the Orthophoics or the “VE” (Victor Electric) series because its been a lazy, cold, blustery day:

Red bat-wing label one-sided (included double-sided) 78’s will have classical, instrumental, sentimental, operatic ballads for example Enrico Caruso, Erinestine-Shumann-Heink, Fritz Kriesler, John McCormack, etc.

Black bat wing one-sided (including double-sided) 78’s will generally include Vaudeville, Fox Trots (jazz and waltzes), country, etc.

Purple bat wing one-sided 12” 78s will contain Opera in most cases, unless the singer happens to be Harry Lauder, then the song(s) would fall into a Scottish sentimental song category. Harry Lauder was a vaudeville comedian and music hall Scottish singer.
Now I believe the record binders themselves were manufactured during the 1940s since they have “RCA Victor Victrola” and the legendary Nipper trademark image in gold. But they appear later produced, not earlier like that of my embossed record binders from eons ago (same company). When the Victrola Talking Machine company was bought out by The Radio Corp. of America (RCA) in 1929 after the stock market crashed, they then changed the company’s name to include “RCA Victor” and the like. Thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, commenting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂