In my last post I mentioned “hunting down some phonos to purchase to bring them back to life”. Well, my first “find” is a pretty interesting one. A Victor VV-XIV IN WALNUT. American walnut, to be precise.
You don’t see very many walnut victrolas. Prior to 1918, walnut was an extra cost ($50.00, I think, which back then was quite a chunk of change!), but after 1918 American walnut was offered as an option at no extra cost. Despite that, these are not very common.
This particular machine dates to approximately 1921, towards the end of the run of this model. The VV-XIV isn’t rare, given that more than 250,000 of them were made. But…an American walnut finish can be desirable with collectors.
For more info on this particular model, visit The Victor Victrola Page, which is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Victor phonographs. I also highly recommend Robert Baumbach’s Look for the Dog, which contains more than you’d ever need to know about Victor phonographs.
Back to this phono that I’m working on…
I am HORRIBLE when it comes to taking “before” pictures of my projects. I think that it’s usually because I’m anxious to get to work on it, and make it “right” again. I really hate seeing phonographs in a state of disrepair. I hate hearing phonographs that are in a state of disrepair even more.
This one was pretty rough, but very little of the veneer was damaged. It was incredibly dirty (gross, actually – I found a cigarette butt in the speed indicator), but nothing some serious elbow grease can’t fix.
It didn’t play (to be honest, it still doesn’t) despite the folks who sold it to me insisting that it “played great the day before”. The reproducer was broken, but fixable. I believe it has at least one broken mainspring, but am saving that repair for last.
So far, I’ve got a decent number of hours into it, but I think I’ll still come out ok once I sell it. Did I mention it has all but one of the thirteen original record storage albums with it? I can’t say I’ve come across many with the original albums intact. Interestingly, one of my own phonographs, a Columbia Mignon from around 1910 has all of it’s original record storage boxes in near-mint condition. A rare find, indeed.
The Mignon is a really cool phono, with some interesting features. I’ll do a future post about it.
Back to the walnut VV-XIV…
The cabinet is usually the first thing I try to tackle when restoring a machine, and this one is coming along nicely. It still needs a little help, but overall it’s looking pretty good.
I’ll post some photos when I finish it up. Maybe even a video of it in action.
It’s been fun doing this again after such a long time away from phonographs. I’m thankful to be spending some time doing things I enjoy. I wish that for everyone 🙂
Meant to post some pics of the inside.