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Victor II

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The Victor II was a "step-up" model from the basic Victor I phonograph.  It was introduced in 1903 at the time when Victor began using Roman numeral designations for their machines, replacing the confusing and overlapping letter designations for different models. The Victor II's predecessor, the Victor E, was then slowly phased-out of production, and by 1905, the Victor II was the only model remaining in this "lower-middle" price range. Early Victor II machines were essentially a clone of the Victor E, with a slightly larger cabinet than the Victor I.
The Victor II was intended as a quality machine for price-conscious buyers, and initially featured an 8-inch turntable and double-spring motor with an oak cabinet and Tapered Arm configuration.  It sold new for $30.00, which equates to approximately $850.00 in today's money. A stamped steel and brass horn was standard along with an Exhibition Soundbox.  Buyers could also opt for a small flower or wood horn for a few dollars more. In 1905, the motor was downgraded from a double-spring to a single-spring design, and the turntable was enlarged to 10" (picture at left, showing standard brass/steel horn). In 1909 the cabinet was enlarged and the corner columns were removed (picture at right showing optional wood horn). 
It should be noted that there was a great deal of "design overlap" between the later versions of the Victor E and early Victor II models, many of which shared identical components. This is likely due to the fact that the factory was churning-out these machines (and using-up available parts) without much regard for product continuity or model positioning at a time when demand for phonographs was growing at a frenzied pace. In addition, the huge factory fire of April 1904 likely destroyed past production files as well the inventory of machine cabinets, components and serial number tags. It is then possible that the plant started piecing-together whatever components they could find when production got back into operation, starting with any new serial number sequence they chose.
During the early phases of production, some Victor II models featured a "humpback" cabinet design, which was simply a thicker wood element on the rear of the cabinet, which served as the tonearm bracket support panel.
Exact production numbers for the Victor II are unknown, but based on serial numbers of surviving examples, at least 150,000 units (and probably a lot more) were made until it was discontinued in the early 1920's. By that time, the majority of Victor II's were being shipped to foreign markets.
At present, there is not a good correlation between serial number and production date for this model. Serial numbers were reset back to "1" (or "501") several times during the production run, making accurate dating of these models very difficult, since the same serial numbers would have reappeared in production after the serialization sequence was reset. The 1904 factory fire also contributed to this confusion, and certainly muddled product configurations and continuity; therefore the process of determining accurate dating becomes very challenging today.

The following guidelines provide some idea of the manufacture date of this model, however this information is not certain:
 - The earliest Victor II models are stamped "Type V.2" and have no suffix letter after the serial number. These were likely made between 1903 and 1905.
-  The next sequential group in production were stamped "Type Vic II", and the serial numbers were reset back to "1". These were likely produced between 1906 and 1909, although the exact date range is uncertain. The 'humpback' style cabnets were produced within this range, although production of this configuration appears to be intermixed with 'non-humpback' cabinets. There is a great deal of overlap in both serial numbers and cabinet designs around this time.
-  Starting in 1909. these models were denoted as "Style Vic II" and will have no corner columns on the cabinet (picture top right). They may have a suffix letter after the serial number as denoted in the chart below. Serial numbers were reset again around this time. 
-  Post 1914 models were stamped "Style V-II" . These will also have a suffix letter after the serial number per the chart below:


Suffix Letter Probable date of production
A or B or C 1910-1916
D or E 1916-1923
F After 1923



The current survival database shows the earliest existent Victor II to be S/N 24 and the latest to be S/N 88447. (Be aware that serial numbers were reset at least twice during the production run)

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