Design Details: Cabinets
A few details on some of the design features of Interal Horn Victorola phonographs. Each sequential page covers one aspect of the evolving designs.
This series of links is for internal horn models only! (Return to Design Directory Page to select information on external horn Victor models):
Lidless Tabletop Models
The smallest (and lowest price) Victrolas were the lidless tabletop models, which were produced in a variety of styles from 1911 through 1929. Typical examples would be the VV-IV, VV-VI, and VV 1-1. These models have the metal dataplate located on the side of the machine, and the license label was pasted underneath. The cabinets for these lidless phonographs were actually manufactured by The Jordan Woodworking Co, or Sheip Manufacturing, under contract to Victor.
Lidded Tabletop Models
For slightly more money, a Victrola buyer could purchase a "lidded" tabletop model. The Victrola XII, introduced in 1909 was the first model of this type, and was followed by models such as the VV-VIII, VV-IX and several others. The VV-X and VV-XI, began their existence as a lidded tabletop model, but were quickly transformed into popular floor models. Lidded tabletop models were made through the late 1920's.
Upright Floor Models
The most popular and common Victrolas were the upright floor models. The very first Victrola used this basic design, and variations of the upright floor model configuration continued until the Orthophonics were introduced in late 1925. Popular examples of this style include the VV-XVI, VV-X and VV-XI (after 1912), VV-XIV, and VV-100. Several variations of the floor design exist. The Victrola XVI (originally designated as "VTLA" on the dataplate) used a pair of unusual L-shaped storage doors with the horn opening in the middle (as seen in the photo below), which are referred to as "L-door Victrolas". "Conventional door" Victrolas have simple rectangular storage and tone control doors. Queen Anne type floor models (early XIV, VV-370 and a few others) are readily identified by the use of gracefully curved long legs supporting the cabinet. Upright Victrolas were discontinued in 1925.
Hump-Back Console Models
In 1921, Victor introduced a new style of Victrola, which has been nicknamed the "humpback" console configuration. The popularity of the upright floor models had been decreasing, and the humpback was designed to provide a more modern choice. While popular for a short time when first released, the humpback never approached the success of the upright or the flat-top consoles which were introduced in 1922. Examples of this design are the VV-300, VV-240 and VV-260. Hump-back models were discontinued in 1925.
Flat-Top Console Models
To stimulate sales, Victor introduced the "Flat-Top" consoles in 1922, which were an immediate success. These modern-looking phonographs were amongst the most popular Victrolas of the early 1920's. Examples are the VV-210, VV-215 and VV-405.
Victor's most elaborate and expensive machines were the "Period" models, produced between 1917 and 1925. These were made only on special order, and came in both humpback console and upright configurations. Most Period Victrolas had elaborate carvings and used exotic woods and finishes in their design. The Period machines were designated by model names such as "Hepplewhite", "Sheraton" or "Queen Anne". These are amongst the most desirable and valuable Victrolas.
With the introduction of the Orthophonic Victrolas in 1925, the old upright and console models were eliminated in favor of more contemporary designs, which used Renaissance, Colonial, and other stylistic influences in their appearance. These machines appeared in a variety of shapes and sizes, mostly using a blended-stain finish. Ornate hand carving was eliminated, and veneers were not of the same high quality as previously used, making the new models more price-competitive with other phonograph makers. Popular models include the VV 4-3, VV 4-4, and VV 8-30. Early Orthophonics used a name (such as "Consolette", "Granada" or "Credenza") rather than a number identification. Orthophonic Victrolas were produced until 1929.
Radio/Phonograph Console Models
In 1925, Victor began producing radio and phonograph combinations, which utilized RCA-built radios (at that time, RCA was a separate company). These early "entertainment centers" were produced in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some were called "Electrolas", while others used an "Orthophonic" nomenclature. Many systems used phonographs with hand-wound spring motors (and battery powered radios) for customers who did not yet have electrical service in their homes. Other models used AC or DC voltage from home electrical outlets to power the components.
These machines were designed in a suitcase configuration, for ease in carrying. A few of the popular models include the VV-50, VV 2-30, and VV 2-55. They were not introduced until the early 1920's, in response to an influx of new competition.