The Victor-Victrola Page
Section Four: Valuation: How much is it worth???
Of course, everyone wants to know how much their Victor phonograph is worth. We receive over 140 emails every day from this website; most of them asking for a free appraisal in some shape or form. One simple rule applies here:
We don't provide free phonograph appraisals.
In other words, We won't answer email requests for free value estimates. Not even for rough guesses. Not for dying relatives, impoverished friends, bankrupt neighbors, lonely widows, or needy charities (yes, we've heard every possible request for exceptions). One well-known radio-collector-blogger calls our attitude "grouchy" because of our firm position in rejecting all freebie appraisal requests. We are not grouchy, nor are we being rude or arrogant. It is simply not possible to respond to over 140 appraisal requests and "help me fix it" emails every single day. This policy angers some readers, as they only want a few minutes of our time. If we spent just 3 minutes reading and answering each one, 7 hours of our time would be consumed slogging through emails each work day, and even more on weekends! We do make it a point to respond to at least 10% of incoming email inquires daily, especially if the question relates to a unique machine or a topic that is of general interest to many readers. However we simply can't become "pen-pals" or spend time repeating information that is already covered on this site!
When value is involved, exact condition/correctness of the veneer, components and finish are critical in determining a valid price. It would be easy to sit in a leather chair sipping Merlot while looking at someone's subjective Victrola descriptions on a computer screen, and take a 5-second pot-shot at a value figure. That guess won't mean one wit to a well-informed potential buyer when he or she spots something incorrect on the machine or when it has a particularly rare veneer. The devil is always in the details when buying/selling antiques. That's why the typical "phonograph price ranges" that are presented on some websites have little validity in the marketplace, because a large blemish or a unique finish can make hundreds or thousands of dollars difference in the selling price. In addition, machines in mint original condition will almost always bring good money, but they typically have to be in the "Top 5%" (condition-wise) of the available population. As condition rises, so does price...exponentially. But the vast majority of what is found in attics and barns won't come anywhere close to being a "museum-grade" example. Anyone who tries to generalize a value range for a specific phonograph model, based on some kind of average estimate or committee-based consensus is doing a disservice to the collector community and to buyers/sellers. Therefore, we don't offer free quickie appraisals; our formal appraisal service typically requires 45 minutes to research and complete, and is based on the model, features and condition of your machine as compared to documented sales data from auctions and estate sales. It is therefore operated as a paid service (see below). Please don't take our policy of not responding to each and every email question as ignoring our readers; we simply don't have the resources to respond to the inquiries that we receive each day.
The value of antique phonographs has dropped significantly since 2005, and this phenomena is also being experienced in many other collector/hobby markets. Supply currently exceeds demand in most cases. The size of the antique phonograph collecting community has decreased dramatically in recent years; younger generations are not interesting in "collecting", and quite frankly, often don't have the available funds to purchase antiques as a hobby. Most observers predict that this situation won't be improving anytime in the near future. Also bear in mind that phonographs were produced by the millions in the early years of the 20th Century, and many have survived. Online listings such as Craigslist have flooded the market with common phonographs, which has further driven down prices. Most Victrola (internal horn) models are still quite commonly found at estate sales and on EBay, with the average selling price in the $50 to $200 range for typical "attic-stored" machines. Authentic external-horn Victors usually bring more money, typically in the range of $500 to $6000 depending on model and condition. There certainly are some rare Victor and Victrola examples out there with unusual finishes or custom cabinets; some can sell for upwards of $20,000, but those machines are very few and far between. Readers occasionally become upset or angry to learn that their old Victrola is worth only $100, because they have seen the "same model" with an asking price of $3,000 on EBay. Just remember: sellers can ask any price they wish, and a crazy price tag means absolutely nothing in the marketplace. If it didn't actually sell for $3,000, then the asking price was too high. And most of those expensive Ebay Victrolas never sell, at any price. If you see "some old phonograph" get appraised for $5,000 on Antiques Road Show or Pawnstars, it is likely a very rare example. If your Victrola isn't that particular model, with that particular finish, in that particular condition, then it probably won't be worth $5,000. And some of the prices quoted on popular reality TV shows are incredibly inflated; the average person would never come close to realizing such high "valuations" unless they owned a large retail store with lots of unwitting customers coming through. The marketplace is the best judge of true worth. Value is based solely on rarity, condition and demand. It represents what a reasonable and knowledgeable buyer will pay in the current market. That is why we use statistical estimates of value based on real sales data from all sources.
If you want to know
how rare your Victrola is, and get a rough idea of what it might be worth,
finish reading these introductory pages, and then click on the "Products"
link (this can also be accessed from the home page).
Just follow the instructions carefully. It will give
you an indication of how common (or uncommon) your Victor machine is, and also will help in
establishing a rough value range. We have attempted to provide as much general
information as possible on this site. That's the best we can do unless you
and make arrangements for an paid appraisal on your phonograph.
To better understand the condition-rating and appraisal process, a detailed explanation can be found here. Be aware that this is a complex endeavor, and involves considerable research.
Rev 2 6-25-2020