Sunday, February 24, 2008

Victor Victrola

With the help and encouragement of my sister and a friend, I purchased an antique Victor Victrola phonograph yesterday. After doing some research online, I determined it was made in 1913 by the Victor Talking Machine Co. in Camden, New Jersey. (This company was later bought out by RCA in 1929) The phonograph still works, by winding the crank on the side. It does not have a horn for sound, but a sound box. One must open the small front doors for volume control. It is surprisingly loud! The sound is all scratchy and canny of course, but fantastic.

I discovered a few oddities about the phonograph. First, I can only safely play 78 rpm records recorded before 1935. This is because later records were thinner, and the heavy needle and horn of my phonograph would ruin the record grooves. Second, I have to change the steel needle for
every play! Talk about high maintenance! Lastly, at the time the phonograph cost about 15.00, which was actually a tidy sum in those days.

All of this really makes you think what a novelty and precious experience it must have been to have a personal, record playing 'talking' machine in 1913. Apparently, records were played infrequently and for special occasions, at least according to modern standards. Suffice it to say that I won't be listening to Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" ninety times in a row on my Victrola. So far, I've been entertained by polka dances, Swedish marches, and Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade.' Not bad.

by the way, the famous trademark
little dog's name
is Nipper

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