How To Identify Victor Products

For true blue phonograph collectors, identifying an authentic Victor phonograph is never difficult. Despite the Victor Talking Machine company’s long history of making phonographs, they did a very good job in providing a way to identify the models. This include providing a unique serial number for the majority of their phonographs.

Features of a Victor Phonograph

Each Victor phonograph is designed with a metal dataplate. It is placed either on or near the motorboard (for models that have lids); on the side part of the phonograph (for most models with external horn and those that are lidless); or beneath the turntable (for the cheaper models and some that were launched in the 20s). In order to view some plates, the turntable should first be lifted straight up and then off the motorboard. Each dataplate has a serial number found on the right and a model identification that is stamped on the left. Each model comes with a unique serialization.

The Dataplate

In a dataplate, the model number would be displayed first and then it would be followed by a serial number. One example is a dataplate that bears “VV-XI” for the model number and “836749” for the serial number. There are some which display the model number as “V” (for Victor), “Type,” or “Style.” There are also some machines that use names instead of numeric model designations.

The Serial Number

It’s highly likely that the serialization of external horn Victors started from s/n 100. It was rather difficult to identify the exact dating of these very early models of external horn machines since a reset in the serial numbers was performed in 1905. Then, another reset was also done in 1909. In other words, there can be at least 2 or even more serial numbers that are identical for a given model. Furthermore, the earliest machines have incomplete factory records. When this is the case, dating a phonograph accurately can be possible with some educated guessing.

Victrola Phonographs

Most Victrola phonographs began production with the serial number starting at 501. Assigning of a serial number was done consecutively until production of the model was discontinued. During the model’s sequential production run, each machine would be assigned with its own serial number. In certain cases, huge blocks of serial numbers were skipped during the production phase. Nevertheless, it was still possible to accurately date all Victrolas since all the of the so-called “skips” had been well documented.