The Victor Talking Machine Company was founded in 1901. It was sold to RCA in 1929, right before The Depression hit.
It is estimated that over 75% of all Victor phonographs ever made were originally sold in the months of October, November and December. It was truly a "Christmas Tradition" to give a phonograph as a holiday gift.
Most of the Victor (external horn) machines have cabinets made of solid oak or mahogany. The Victrola (internal horn) machines used a layer of veneer over a dense plywood core. This was done to prevent the warping that is common over time on large panels of solid wood. It was also a lot cheaper to manufacture.
The Victor Dog's Name is Nipper. He is a mixed breed Terrier. One story states that he was originally painted sitting on his master's coffin, listening to his voice played back on a phonograph. That is an "urban legend". The painting was simply a creative idea, sold to Victor by an artist based in England.
Victor was the world's largest producer of musical instruments for many years, and employed over 8,000 people during its heyday. Victor's main plant was in Camden, New Jersey, but they also had plants in California, Virginia, and Japan.
The advent of radio almost caused Victor to collapse in the early 20's as people shunned the old phonograph technology for the better sound and increased variety of listening to live broadcasts. Sales during the normally busy Christmas season of 1924 were off more than 45% from previous years. Acting quickly, the company drastically improved the sound quality (via the introduction of Orthophonic machines in 1925) and by adding RCA manufactured radios into the Victor phonograph cabinets, creating a true "entertainment center".
The year of highest Victrola production was 1917. The total volume that year was just over 566,000 units. The vast majority of Victrolas were sold in the months of November and December.
Deluxe (fancy) Victrolas were commonly gutted and used as bookcases or bars in the 1930's and 40's. The spring motors were used as trolling motors for fishermen. One company in New York would buy them for 50 cents and grind them up for use as recycled fiberboard during World War II.
When introduced in 1911, the price-leader VV-IV made the Victrola affordable to many Americans. However, it's $15.00 price tag would equate to $275.00 in today's economy.
Many Victrola aftermarket services existed in the late 'teens and early 20's. These companies would decorate, paint or modify a Victrola to suit anyone's taste. There also were scores of companies who made a variety of custom cabinets for Victrolas.
One of the most expensive Victrolas listed in the catalogs was the $900 Japanese Queen Anne Period model of 1919. $900 at that time equates to approximately $13,750 in today's money. More expensive custom designs were available from the Victor Art Department.
Victrola dealers often attached a dealer tag or decal, indicating where it was purchased.
Victor set up spectacular large indoor and outdoor displays to promote their products, as shown at the right. This was a giant horn that played music to an outdoor audience! (Toronto Canada, 1926)