VTLA / VV-XVI / VE-XVI /VV-XX
Pooley Version ("VTLA" tag, flat lid, gold hardware): RARITY: ¤¤¤ VALUE: ¤¤¤
VTLA Version ("VTLA" tag, domed lid, gold hardware): RARITY: ¤¤ VALUE: ¤¤¤
VV-XX Version ("VTLA" tag, domed lid, gold trim on carved sides): RARITY: ¤¤¤¤ VALUE: ¤¤¤¤
Vernis-Martin Version (gold painted cabinet with figures): RARITY: ¤¤¤¤ VALUE: ¤¤¤¤
VV-XVI or VE-XVI with L-shaped doors: RARITY: ¤¤ VALUE: ¤¤¤
VV-XVI or VE-XVI with conventional doors: RARITY: ¤ VALUE: ¤¤
The "VV-XVI" was the original internal-horn Victrola; officially introduced in 1906, it remained the Victrola flagship model for many years. Although it was originally advertised as "Victrola the Sixteenth" (XVI), the metal identification tag used a "VTLA" designation in the early years. This was the first commercial product to enclose the horn inside a stylish cabinet. Selling for a whopping $200.00, it became an immediate hit.
At introduction, a standard production design had been settled on, which is understandably called the "Pooley" model (left). Early VTLA's were made for Victor by the Pooley Furniture Company of Philadelphia (using Victor's patented cabinet design and the mechanism from the external-horn Victor 6), but production was gradually transferred to Victor's growing woodworking facilities. The cabinet had an unusual curved top section, "L" shaped storage doors and a flat lid. Several minor hardware changes were made as production ramped-up. The flat-lid cabinet design (see History of the Victrola) made access to the turntable rather difficult. During the very early months of development, Victor experimented with several different cabinet designs, including a cabinet called the "Mertz", which had a very boxy look, but retained the flat-lid. The Mertz design is considered one of several early prototypes, and was never put into production. It is unclear as to the serial number of the first true production-version VTLA; serialization began at 501 for all models released after 1909, but the "starting point" for VTLA serialization is still not certain, since its release was several years earlier. A prototype VTLA (Mertz design) has turned up with serial number 499. As additional examples are discovered, it is likely that earlier production machines will be discovered.
In early 1907, the VTLA adopted a patented domed-lid design, allowing the turntable to sit nearly flush with the top of the cabinet (right). The "L" shaped storage doors were retained. This design became a huge success with the buying public, and the dome design became the standard lid for most Victrolas for the next 20 years. Victor and Pooley shared production of these domed-lid models for a few years, but by 1909, Victor's factory took over all manufacture of Victrola cabinets. The demand for these models exceeded Victor's wildest dreams, and based on the public's response, new lower-priced internal-horn models were quickly introduced.
In 1908, Victor introduced a super-deluxe VTLA model, advertised as "Victrola the Twentieth" (although this model was confusingly still tagged "VTLA"). This phonograph featured ornate carving (most versions had gold gilding covering the carving as well) and a unique "V" shaped mahogany veneer on the front doors (left). Selling for a whopping $300.00, this model was too expensive for the buying public, and it was discontinued in 1909. Unfortunately, "XX" production was intermixed with "XVI" models, and there is no unique dataplate identification to differentiate between the deluxe (XX) and standard (XVI) models. Thus, there is no clear way to determine how many XX's were made. Best current estimates are that less than 500 were produced. At present, the earliest existent documented XX is s/n 4453 and the latest one is s/n 8655. Of course, many standard VTLA's are intermixed within that number range.
An "A" suffix was added in mid-1909, and the metal tag was changed to indicate "VV-XVI" shortly afterwards. A few months later, the suffix was updated to "B", and the ornate carving under the lid was removed, and the cabinet was widened slightly (right). The "flare" carving, which was carved on the sides of the L-doors, was moved to the cabinet's front side posts. The "Victor-Victrola" label under the lid was also changed at this time, now reading just "Victrola". The "C" suffix series of early 1910 first adopted the "tab" style brake (replacing the earlier bullet brake). A "D" suffix version was introduced in 1911, wherein some minor mechanical changes were made. NOTE: due to hardware shortages and the need to use-up remaining parts inventory, Victor often used earlier (obsolete) hardware on later suffix models. Thus, it is possible to find all kinds of "mixed bag" hardware (brakes, speed controls, etc.) on VV-XVI's throughout the entire production run.
An "E" suffix was introduced in 1912, wherein the cabinet design was significantly changed (left). The "L-doors" were eliminated, and the horn opening was widened. In addition, wooden slats were added inside the horn cavity. The crank was moved forward as well.
An "F" suffix was briefly used in 1913, which replaced the round speed control with the short-lived "Exposed Speed Indicator", which consisted of an unprotected indicator needle sticking out from under the turntable. This design was highly vulnerable to being damaged, and many existing "F" suffix machines have surfaced with retrofitted speed indictors. The "F" also used a different style winding key (crank). Before the end of the year, the "F" was replaced with a "G" suffix, that included some additional minor mechanical changes, along with an upgrade to the large glass speed indicator, with the indicator needle now protected under a small Eigen glass. In early 1915, the "H" suffix was adopted (right), which moved the crank position further back, and the cabinet design was again slightly changed.
The "H" suffix remained in production until early 1917. At that time, the suffices were dropped from the serial number. At the same time, the XVI adopted the "fat" tone arm, which was a forbearer of the soon-to-be-introduced No. 2 Soundbox.
No further design modifications were made to the XVI until it was discontinued in 1921. The last recorded serial number (from factory records) for the XVI was 197227.
The selling price for the standard finish (mahogany or oak) VV-XVI was fixed at $200.00 up until the onset of World War One. By the end of the model run in 1921, the standard model was retailing for $250.00. Some special-finish versions could run as much as $750.00 when new.
The XVI was the first Victrola to add the electric motor option in December 1913 (electric versions use a VE-XVI tag) for an extra $50.00. Serialization for the electric versions was independent of the spring wound models, and began at 501. Factory records indicate that approximately 9,000 VE-XVI's were produced; however, huge blocks of serial numbers were skipped during production, and thus the highest VE-XVI serial number is uncertain at approximately s/n 16100. Electric models are easily identified by the "VE" prefix on the dataplate, and the unique rear panel with power cable and cooling vents (left).
XVI's were also made in a wide variety of special finishes, including the gold-painted Vernis Martin, Black Lacquer, Ebony, and many more (examples below) . These machines are quite rare and valued by collectors today. Exact production numbers of these special finishes are unknown.
The current collector database shows the earliest existent VV-XVI to be S/N 499 and the latest to be S/N 196887. The earliest existent electric (VE) XVI is S/N 501 and the latest is 16055.
|Manufacture Date||Serial Number Range||Feature Notes|
|1906||100(??)-506||Flat-lid Pooley-built models. Actual starting s/n is unknown.|
|1907||506-4065||Domed lid introduced around S/N 2500|
|1908||4065-7873||XX model introduced around S/N 4000|
|1909||7873-17000||VTLA designation dropped and "A" suffix added around S/N 12500. Carving under lid discontinued and "B" suffix added around S/N 13700.|
|1910||17000-30800||C suffix added at S/N 17960|
|1911||30800-52100||D suffix added at S/N 43500|
|1912||52100-67300||New cabinet design and E suffix added at S/N 60727.|
|1913||67300-98800||Semi-auto brake added at s/n 72076. Exposed speed indicator (on some examples) and "F" suffix added at S/N 84608. "G" suffix starts around s/n 88800.|
|1914||98800-107000||All models with G suffix. Large glass speed control added at s/n 104300.|
|1915||107000-128800||G suffix early. H suffix added at S/N 108200|
|1916||128800-138700||All models with H suffix. A few machines have been documented with an "XVI-A" model identification tag around s/n 137000.|
|1917||138700-153600||Fat tone arm, small glass speed indicator added and serial number suffix letters dropped at S/N 143350|
|1915||3100-??||"A" suffix used after serial number 3101. S/N was 3101 produced in early 1915|
|1916||Unknown||S/N 5057 was produced in late 1916. S/N's 5101 through 8100 were skipped (not used) in production.|
|1917||Unknown||S/N 10500 produced in 1917.|
|1921||Unknown||Last documented production s/n is 16063|
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