Monday, December 03, 2007

In the age of the weekly salary of $7.00 to $10.00...These Victor machines were at a price that was only for the amazingly wealthy

This ad from 1910 show the two most expensive machines Victor made on a steady basis. The Victrola XII table model and the floor model the Victrola XVI. There were other machines made such as the Victrola XX, which were made on a small scale, and soon discontinued. These were the stars of 1909-1910. By 1911 the line up will have changed greatly. These were the inside horn machines, which were the special items as they were unusual. All of the machines made previous to 1906 were outside horn machines. The Victor Victrola of 1906-1908 was so expensive and different from the outside horn machines. One must remember that the outside horn machines could be had from $10.00 to $100.00, and in 1906 the Victrola with an inside horn was $200.00! It took a while for sticker shock to go away. By 1909 the Victrola was a massive hit and it was selling well, even at this amazingly high price. It was after seeing this success that the company decided to add the small Victrola XII. It was not quite the success that the Victrola XVI was. Mainly for the fact that for only $75.00 more you could have a full sized model, rather than just a little table model. Also, due to the small size of the horn of the machine, it sounded rather anemic. So successful it was not. But here we see the the first of the Victrolas. Within 5 years there would be so many models to choose from and the age of the Victrola for the common man had arrived.

The Victrola XII was only a table model, yet it was $125.00!!!! It was made of African Mahogany and all the visable metals were gold plated. Even the screws!!!! It had the smallest horn of any Victor machine, and therefore had pretty much the worst sound reproduction capability of any Victor machine ever made. Its sales showed how unpopular it was.

The Victor Victrola XVI was the top of the line for the Victor Company. It cost a hefty $200.00!!! It was well designed and was the first type of phonograph that had the horn inside the cabinet. The case was available in several different types of wood. The horn was well designed and it had remarkable sound quality. Amazingly even at the high price it sold well. In fact, it sold so well that in the 2 years the cheaper Victrola XII was made, it could not cover the amount of sales the Victrola XVI would have in a half a year!

Today it is odd for us to think that people would pay such amazingly high prices for what most today would call record players. Just for fun let's give these machines a price using a conversion for inflation.

Today's price for the machines would be $3,875 for the Victrola XII and $6,200 for the Victrola XVI. Quite a bit for a record player. But what we have to remember is that this was cutting edge technology. I guess the best comparison would be the price for a flat screen TV or plasma TV today. New technology is never cheap.