Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Victrola XII was the first table model Victrola. It was introduced in 1909 and had rather sluggish sales till it was discontinued in 1910. I know for myself I was harsh on the VVXII five years ago when I wrote a article on this blog called the Victrola XII the Edsel of the Victor Company. There are parts of that comment five years ago that makes sense and of course parts that do not. This machine was announced and was thought of as the Victor Junior, at least at the company they referred to it that way. There were great plans for this new machine. However it had issues. Perhaps the greatest was its cost. Remember in 1909 the average salary was around five to six dollars a week. Now of course this machine was not made for the common man. It was made for the rich. Who else could afford $125.00 for a small tabletop Victrola. It was beautifully appointed with mahogany veneer and in a very few cases oak. It was the perfect Victrola for your yacht or summer home. It had a 3 spring motor and had all of the above the motor board hardware gold plated. The internal horn was cast iron which ended with a square wooden horn with sound enhancing slates. It was Victor's idea to help with the sound. It also had a heavy iron turntable that was 12 inches in width.
While this may have been somewhat luxurious a machine there was a great deal of concern about the size of the horn in front. It was quite small, not very small, but it was the smallest horn ever put into a non-portable Victrola ever. I have found that the sound is not as bad as I wrote five years ago. I have a VV XII and it plays rather nicely and I really have little to complain about when it comes to sound or volume.
In January of 1910 they added some carving on the machine to perhaps take away from the size of the horn. The machine was cancelled later that year and the sales were rather dismal ...around 4900 sold.
I aquired a VV XII that had issues
1. It did not work
2. Was told its crank was broken
3. Lastly was told it needed tender loving care.
When I got it I saw that they were right, it needed work. I found the trouble with the crank was a little bit of the tip of the male crankshaft had lodged itself into female crank. I took it to a machine shop and they pulled it out in 2 minutes. Then I found the spring was fine and it just needed some good cleaning, polishing, greasing and oiling.
I rebuilt the reproducer and while working on the motor and oiling it I noticed some thing. Firstly, the turntable was made of steel. It was a yielding turntable welded to work with the machine and obviously original. I found that odd, as VV XII's should always have an iron yielding turntable. While pulling out the motor board on this machine as the layout of the motor of VV XII is different than any other Victrola ever made. I noticed it was stamped on the motor board with the date of May 12, 1914. I found this odd indeed.
In studying Robert Baumbach's data book on Victrolas I find that there were 47 VV XII's made in 1911, five in 1912, one in 1915 and four VV XII's put together in 1916! I do not know if either of these exist, but it would interesting to compare them with this 1914 VV XII. There is no listing for a machine that year but it is clearly stamped with that date and the stain was removed to make sure the date could be prominently seen. Now at least there is one from 1914.
I have restored the machine and love it and as I have said I find it sounds not that bad at all.