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View topic - Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying? • The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:30 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:06 pm
Posts: 1365
Jonsheff, if you are interested in the next level, take a few minutes to search postings by our member "EarlH" on here. He's a master of refinishing and is generous with tips on technique. He had brought back many real wrecks and his results are stunning, beautiful, and authentic.

Poke around and you'll find a lot of photos of his work on here.

Good luck with whatever path you choose.


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:15 pm 
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Victor O
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:16 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Manchester Connecticut


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:03 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:06 pm
Posts: 1365
Ok, I'm pretty sure you already know how we'll react to that. An XVII in walnut is considerably more rare and special, and as such must absolutely be either rejuvenated (save the original finish) or if you must strip and refinish, done correctly.


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:05 pm 
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Victor II
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:41 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Riverside, California
Your customer base is generally ignorant with reasonably high disposable income. These things often go hand-in-hand, luckily for you :lol:

I don't really think this community would be terribly useful to you, because it's overwhelmingly unlike your customers. You're not interested in what collectors would consider an appropriate restoration [you posted, "I dont aim for the collector market and really dont care what clear coat is preferred as i know the units i produce come out beautifull" (sic)]. Sounds like you already have your standard refurbishment process down and that's not going to change.

As far as your business, you obviously know that end better than most people here. Personally, I've spent a decade around "antique dealers" and nothing surprises me anymore. A lot of their success, in my opinion, is explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect. I've seen a number of "reputable" sellers offer badly refinished Victrolas online and get very high prices. I recently saw an Oak XVI which was sold as refurbished/restored by a major antique dealer. The doors had been stripped of their veneer, so the front was ash (or whatever the base wood was). What the buyer doesn't know won't hurt them--as long as they stay ignorant (which is pretty likely. By the time they figure out they can't play Led Zeppelin on it, they've already lost interest and have put a plant on top).

All this doesn't bother me much anymore. It's a free country. If anything this topic makes me appreciate my small collection more. I think most people here, like me, view their collection as a mini-museum or art installation, in a way. Knowing the finer things, noticing the details, comparing and contrasting--it's very satisfying.
"There are two kinds of people in this world: people who eat grapes in the grocery store and good people."


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:36 pm 
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Victor O
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:16 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Manchester Connecticut


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:40 pm 
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Victor II
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:41 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Riverside, California
I understand it probably looks a lot better in person, as the lights really wash the grain out.

That being said, there is no way in hell I would have refinished that. It looked fine the way it was. A few hours cleaning with GOOP and that would have been in my living room. I can't say the same about the result. HOWEVER, like I said, I'm not your buyer.
"There are two kinds of people in this world: people who eat grapes in the grocery store and good people."


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:44 pm 
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Victor O
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Posts: 76
Location: Manchester Connecticut


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:56 pm 
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Victor II
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:41 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Riverside, California
All of that is very depressing to hear, but I can't say I haven't heard it before. Since it doesn't matter business-wise, I doubt you'll be interested, but I refinished this Edison using black grain filler, medium red mahogany aniline dye, and hand brushed shellac, ending with a French polish to smooth it out. I think this is the look you should try to go after, but it may be impractical to your business. It's a much classier look in my opinion, and certainly closer to the original.

I would question why you're interested in dealing in phonographs at all. If you can make more on other pieces of furniture, could you maybe do the collecting community a great favor and leave the phonographs to others? I mean no offense, I just think it's worth considering. Even though you're fine with what you're doing now, you may feel differently in the future.


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"There are two kinds of people in this world: people who eat grapes in the grocery store and good people."
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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:24 am 
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Victor IV
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am
Posts: 1375
Location: South Carolina
Aw come on, man--nothing wrong with being in the phonograph collecting world for a little profit. I bought, restored, and flipped a 1940s Phonola S-50 Portable the other day. It ended up as a Valentine gift for a coworker's wife, and she, being a schoolteacher, took it to class...

Fast forward to this afternoon when said Coworker shows me a video of the class gathered around the old Phonola, listening to it rattling its way through a Flatt and Scruggs record. Kids are dancing, people are smiling, they're learning this in history class which is kind of great...so a little profiteering can make a lot of people happy!


Regarding other matters of finishing:

There's a guy I know who is refinishing a 1906 VTLA in the flat-top Pooley cabinet--the first Victrola ever produced, now very scarce and worth thousands today.

It was super ugly when he got it on the outside but the inside was still nice, so he decided to fake a mahogany piano finish in his garage with period materials (sort of.)

The original finish in 1906 would have been all shellac. It was a little bit disgusting in 2018 when he bought the thing. He stripped it down, sanded the rough spots, and cleaned the wood very thoroughly but without raising the grain.

Next came a Minwax oil-based Red Mahogany stain, I forgot what number he used. It came out looking beautiful, matched to the inside of the lid. He also put some feet back on the cabinet because the old ones had been smashed.

Clearcoating it was very interesting. He didn't use a grain-filler, because he didn't have the right kind available. What he did was to put on a coat of fairly thick shellac, the amber Bull's Eye kind from a tin can. Next, he lacquered it with Deft nitrocellulose brushing lacquer. When he got done rubbing it out, it looked like a perfect finish from 100 years ago, and was far more durable than the original finish. I figure if one of the South's premier collectors could take one of the world's rarest Victrolas and finish it this way, it was good enough for anyone. The shellac and nitro materials were right for the period, and he said that sometimes they would alternate the finishes to help fill the grain and make a deep finish.

Unfortunately, the last time I saw this Victrola, it was scattered around his garage in bits and he was still repainting the parts with gold foil paint and lacquer to make the gold-wash. I never did get to hear it, but one of these days I am going to drop in and have to ask him how the Pooley Victrola turned out.

It is the finest refinish job I ever saw.

By the way, Jonsheff--you guys up north have some amazing machines! Down here in the heart of Dixie I think our phonographs fell apart in the humidity years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Are VE electric XVI Victrolas worth buying?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:35 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:31 pm
Posts: 907
Location: New Hampshire’s West Coast


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