The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

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 Post subject: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 7:37 pm 
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Victor III
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Location: The (Mostly) Quiet Corner, Connecticut, USA
Since it's such an oddball machine, I thought I'd share this weekend find with the forum. It's a 1909-'10 Columbia 'Elite' model, in overall good shape after years of relative neglect. The finish was very dry, with a good number of scratches, and I thought at first it might be necessary to refinish. With some cleaning and Restore-a-Finish, many of the scrapes disappeared, being of the kind that occur on the surface of old, dry shellac. The top of the lid -- which I meant to take a picture of, but apparently didn't -- will still need some remediation, but it'll turn out well I think. These pictures are after just a quick cleanup.

This is such a weird design. It's so boxy and unembellished, it looks more like a fortress than a phonograph. The rounded corners, particularly, resemble 1939 more than 1909, and what substitutes for a real "grill", with its oval holes, has some of that look about it too. Forward-looking, or just a very odd design esthetic? The volume control is a slider, unfortunately missing, though it shouldn't be hard to reproduce, that essentially closed the holes through which the music is squeezed out like toothpaste. The baffle flaps down to open the horn wide, and the small, light door is attached with some interesting heavy-duty hinges for such a light duty task.

The reproducer currently has gaskets that have hardened to gutta-percha rigidity, which will need to be replaced of course. But testing a record on it, it sounds like it should be a well-playing machine once tuned up. The four-spring motor needs a good cleaning (I should have taken a picture of that, too) but doesn't sound notably loud to me, thought it's considered noisy by others who've commented on this model in previous threads. Previous discussions: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=27592&hilit=columbia+elite --- viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16700&hilit=columbia+elite

Anyway, here are some pics:


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Elite-View.jpg
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Elite-Deck.jpg
Elite-Deck.jpg [ 190.48 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-Front.jpg
Elite-Front.jpg [ 201.89 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-FlapDown.jpg
Elite-FlapDown.jpg [ 154.17 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-Hinge.jpg
Elite-Hinge.jpg [ 322.31 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-Soundbox.jpg
Elite-Soundbox.jpg [ 314.53 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-On-Off.jpg
Elite-On-Off.jpg [ 191.31 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
Elite-Crank.jpg
Elite-Crank.jpg [ 752.42 KiB | Viewed 309 times ]
"Gosh darn a Billiken anyhow."- Uncle Josh Weathersby


Last edited by Cody K on Sun May 12, 2019 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 7:48 pm 
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Victor III
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Location: New Hampshire’s West Coast
Maybe it took its styling from the Victrola XII and Pooley VTLA. Cool machine at any rate. Nice find and thanks for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 7:55 pm 
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Victor IV
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Those who were seen dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music. Nietzsche
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I like it too!
The links show a the four spring motor and the sliding volume control - nice.

James.


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:04 pm 
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Victor III
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Location: The (Mostly) Quiet Corner, Connecticut, USA
I guess it would have been to some degree Columbia's answer to the XVII. It certainly shares some of the Pooley VTLA's endearing clunky characteristics. As with that machine, the deck sits three inches down in the cabinet. But more than either of those machines, it stands apart for the almost austere spareness of the design. It almost looks more European than American...and yet it was made right here in good old Connecticut. Also, it looks like the engineers eliminated almost every possible feature that could attract yet another lawsuit from Victor -- even corners! (Though Columbia had used curved corners on previous machines.) What's really interesting is that the baffle/door design seems to be a way of stepping around Victor's chokehold on something as basic as doors on a machine...and then, two years later, they designed doors onto the 'Favorite' model -- and promptly got sued by Victor for it, causing them to switch to louvers in the next iteration.
"Gosh darn a Billiken anyhow."- Uncle Josh Weathersby


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:12 pm 
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Victor II
Martin - 16 y/o
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Wow, its gorgeous! That may be an addition to my "wanted" list :D

Martin


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:12 pm 
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Victor Monarch Special
Stop for a visit when in Oregon.
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:25 pm
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That's an historic machine as it was Columbia's first table model Grafonola. I remember how delighted I was to find a similar one in an antique show years ago. Congratulation!

Jerry Blais


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:42 pm 
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Victor VI
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Location: Where there's "hamburger ALL OVER the highway"...
I imagine the volume control was inspired by the registers on stoves...

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 9:19 pm 
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Victor III
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Location: The (Mostly) Quiet Corner, Connecticut, USA
Thank you, gents, I'm very happy with this one. I like machines with peculiarites. (Actually I guess I like almost anything with peculiarties.) And the early date and relative scarcity -- at least in terms of information about them online -- I appreciate too. AND the small size is attractive because in just two years here I've managed to stuff yet another old house with peculiar old stuff. (BTW, if anyone would like a Credenza, nicely restored and a fine player, relatively cheap, get in touch...) :D

Here's a picture I found from another thread in which an 'Elite' was for sale, showing the sliding baffle that's missing from mine. download/file.php?id=74816&mode=view

And Bill, dadgum if you ain't right -- old stoves are exactly where I've seen that kind of baffle before. I knew it looked familiar!
"Gosh darn a Billiken anyhow."- Uncle Josh Weathersby


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 10:01 pm 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Who is John Galt?
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Location: New York's Finger Lakes
Not just old stoves either...!

Attachment:
Fireplace.JPG
Fireplace.JPG [ 1.84 MiB | Viewed 212 times ]


Those early Elites are cool machines. Congratulations!

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: Weekend Find: Columbia 'Elite'
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 pm 
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Victor III
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Location: The (Mostly) Quiet Corner, Connecticut, USA
Holy smoke, George! I've never seen a bronze and tile Columbia before! What top-of-the-line model is that? :D
"Gosh darn a Billiken anyhow."- Uncle Josh Weathersby


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