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 Post subject: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Victor Jr
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Hi everyone! Now that the greatest day of the year (Record Store Day!) has come and gone, I am hoping some of you can help a fellow collector out with a (hopefully) quick project. I have recently come into the possession of a scarce 14" Victor Deluxe Special Record from 1903, which plays for almost six minutes at 60 rpm and is a rendition of Strauss' "Morganblätter Waltz" by the Victor Symphony Orchestra. Miraculously, it is in playable condition, but because of the record's large size, I will have to dig out my transcription turntable and make some needed repairs to the cartridge before I can actually play this behemoth, probably for the first time in its life since the WWI era!

We know from surviving Victor ledgers that between 20 and 25 of these 14" Deluxe Special Records were recorded between 1903 and 1904. However, I couldn't see any listed as being recorded in 1905 despite Victor briefly offering them for sale that year. With this baseline established, I have two questions expanding on it:

1. Since Victor only released about 150 of the 12" Deluxe Records (the second-most expensive records they made during that time until Victor switched over to the Grand Prize label in 1905), would it stand to reason that perhaps only 100 or so of the 14" Deluxe Special Records were ever made? At $2 a pop (about $75 today!), these were not only expensive to purchase, but also doubtlessly expensive to manufacture and difficult to sell when most record buyers of the time were not buying any records larger than 10". In addition, I doubt these large records were even playable on the inexpensive front-mount machines (like, say, a Victor Type P or Z) which were the most popular options available to customers of the era.

2. If my assumption is correct that about 100 of the 14" Victor Deluxe Special Records were made, that would mean about four copies of each recording were made. Statistically, if assuming a (generous, in my opinion) survival rate for all these discs of about ten per cent, that would mean we could expect to have approximately ten of these discs in existence today of any title(s). As such, to the best of my knowledge, all the 14" Victor Deluxe Special Records I have found to be in existence today through a cursory Web search are listed as follows:

a.) "The Flying Dutchman" (Victor 2030)
b.) "Three Dances from 'Henry VIII'" (Victor 2026)
c.) "Falling Leaves" (Victor 2009)
d.) "1812 Overture" (Victor 2217)
e.) "Pique Dame Overture" (Victor 2001)
f.) "Oberon Overture" (Victor 2016)
g.) "Selections from 'Aida'" (Victor 2018)
h.) "Mignon" (Victor 2023)
i.) "Selections from 'Romeo & Juliet'" (Victor 2011)
j.) "Selections from 'Attila'" (Victor 41001), and of course
k.) "Morganblätter Waltz" (Victor 2025)

Since eleven are listed, that exceeds the ten per cent figure I estimated and is almost half of all the 14" Deluxe Special Records released. If you have a 14" Victor Deluxe Special Record in your collection (or have other knowledge of one) that is NOT listed above, please let me know! Given that these large (both physically and in price) records represented the pinnacle of early 1900s audio recording and reproduction, it is a shame that very little attention seems to be given to them in the collecting world. I also know Columbia made some 14" records around the same time as Victor made theirs, but information about them is even harder to come by than the Victor records!

Thanks for your assistance in this and take care!


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Last edited by jmad7474 on Fri May 04, 2018 1:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:55 pm 
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Victor Monarch Special
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jmad7474 wrote:

We know from surviving Victor ledgers that between 20 and 25 of these 14" Deluxe Special Records were recorded between 1903 and 1904. However, I couldn't see any listed as being recorded in 1905 despite Victor briefly offering them for sale that year.


The latest and most comprehensive study of all Victor records is The Collector's Guide to Victor Records, by Michael Sherman. It's indispensable to any serious Victor record collector, and if you don't have it I highly recommend it.

On pages 48 and 49, the 14" DELUXE and DELUXE SPECIAL records are illustrated and discussed. According to Sherman's exhaustive research, 22 of the 14" Victor records were issued. My own research years ago led me to believe that Victor discontinued the line in December 1904, and Sherman states the same thing. Would you mind kindly sharing your source for Victor offering them in 1905?

jmad7474 wrote:
1. Since Victor only released about 150 of the 12" Deluxe Records (the second-most expensive records they made during that time until Victor switched over to the Grand Prize label in 1905), would it stand to reason that perhaps only 100 or so of the 14" Deluxe Special Records were ever made? At $2 a pop (about $75 today!), these were not only expensive to purchase, but also doubtlessly expensive to manufacture and difficult to sell when most record buyers of the time were not buying any records larger than 10".


I'm not following your logic supporting only 100 of these records being pressed (spread among 22 titles). That's an infinitesimally small number of records - especially for what Victor (a large company in 1903) hoped would be a successful line of discs. It wouldn't have been worth the energy to operate the presses. Who would ever have seen these new records if they were pressed in such small numbers? I'd be surprised if any of these 14" disc titles were pressed in batches of less than 1000. Victor had too much invested in tooling to do less.

jmad7474 wrote:
In addition, I doubt these large records were even playable on the inexpensive front-mount machines (like, say, a Victor Type P or Z) which were the most popular options available to customers of the era.


The Victor 14" discs can indeed be played on a P or a Z (although an E, M, or any of the rear-mount Victors of the mid-1903/04 era would have been a more common choice). Why would Victor have marketed a record which would not play on its machines?

jmad7474 wrote:
2. If my assumption is correct that about 100 of the 14" Victor Deluxe Special Records were made, that would mean about four copies of each recording were made. Statistically, if assuming a (generous, in my opinion) survival rate for all these discs of about ten per cent, that would mean we could expect to have approximately ten of these discs in existence today of any title(s). As such, to the best of my knowledge, all the 14" Victor Deluxe Special Records I have found to be in existence today through a cursory Web search are listed as follows:

a.) "The Flying Dutchman" (Victor 2030)
b.) "Three Dances from 'Henry VIII'" (Victor 2026)
c.) "Falling Leaves" (Victor 2009)
d.) "1812 Overture" (Victor 2017)
e.) "Pique Dame Overture" (Victor 2001)
f.) "Oberon Overture" (Victor 2016), and course
g.) "Morganblätter Waltz" (Victor 2025)


Again, I think your assumption is flawed. To set up record presses capable of 14" and press only four copies of each title would be nearly as crazy as keeping 100 pressings in the catalog for 21 months!

Also, don't assume that the Internet contains even half the knowledge available on the topic of antique phonographs and records. It's a great resource, but it has its limits.

jmad7474 wrote:
Since seven are listed, hopefully more will turn up in the future to make it closer to the ten per cent figure I previously estimated. If you have a 14" Victor Deluxe Special Record in your collection (or have other knowledge of one) that is NOT listed above, please let me know! Given that these large (both physically and in price) records represented the pinnacle of early 1900s audio recording and reproduction, it is a shame that very little attention seems to be given to them in the collecting world. I also know Columbia made some 14" records around the same time as Victor made theirs, but information about them is even harder to come by than the Victor records!

Thanks for your assistance in this and take care!


Again, in The Collector's Guide to Victor Records all 22 issued 14" titles, artists, and catalog numbers are listed. The book also shows images of the following labels not mentioned in your Internet search:

Romeo and Juliet Selection, (DELUXE label), 2011, Victor Symphony Orchestra
Attila Selection, (DELUXE SPECIAL label), 41001, Victor Grand Concert Band

The "Overture 1812" is also shown, but the catalog number on the label is 2217, which differs from your Internet example.

In my own modest record collection there are three 14" Victors and two 14" Columbias. One of them is Pique Dame, which you already found, but here are the other two:

Aida Selections (DELUXE label), 2018, Victor Symphony Orchestra
Mignon, (DELUXE SPECIAL label), 2023, Victor Grand Concert Band

I hope this helps.

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:42 pm 
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Victor IV
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Location: Eugene/ Springfield Oregon USA
Lucky... I have been chasing these elusive b@stards for decades. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:00 pm 
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Victor Jr
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George, thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge about these records! You mentioned a lot of good points, so hang tight and let me pick your brain on a few of them:

1. I will definitely be on the lookout for a copy of the Guide to Victor Records! I did not know that book existed, and as someone with a Victor phonograph and a large collection of Victor records, it would certainly prove helpful to have on hand. The source I am looking at (http://www.mainspringpress.com/victor1.html) states that in March of 1905, the 12" Deluxe and 14" Deluxe Special records were discontinued with the introduction of the Grand Prize label, which as we all know was its uniform replacement until the patent label later replaced it. While I would assume that no 14" Deluxe Special records were recorded or manufactured after December 1904, it is certainly possible that dealers held onto old stock copies until February or March 1905 so they could sell the remainder off before the new Grand Prize label implementation on the newest releases. Would you kindly describe which source you consider to be more authoritative on this matter?

2. I think your point about Victor pressing their 14" Deluxe Special records in quantities of at least 1,000 is probably realistic, but obviously very few were sold and even less have survived over the years. Again, if we assume that only around 50 of these records are still around (according to collector MusicBoxBoy who owns a copy of "The Flying Dutchman"), that begs the question of what happened to the rest of the records that were made? Were they melted down to make other records? Used as target practice among Victor employees? Thrown into the river adjacent to the Victor factory? The possibilities are endless...

3. I think I may have been too vague on what I meant by playing the records "on the inexpensive front-mount machines". Obviously a 14" record will fit between the distance of the tonearm support mount and the spindle on these machines (and even will fit on some early Victrolas); what I meant to say was I did not know that they would have enough mainspring power to maintain a constant speed for six minutes of playing time, since I thought the early single-spring motors would go no more than five minutes per full winding, and the speed difference of 18 rpms (78 vs 60) is not that great to extend the mainspring's run time to a significant degree. However, I do know such machines can be surprisingly powerful when need be, so if anyone reading this has a 14" Deluxe Special record that s/he plays on their Type Z (for example), do let me know what your process is for playing it!

4. I have added your two records to the list of known surviving 14" Deluxe Special records and corrected the catalogue number for the "1812 Overture" (that source was from an auction site with very blurry photos of the label!) Thank you for letting me know about them!

Best regards,

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:18 pm 
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Victor Jr
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"Don't Deny Yourself the Sheer Joy of Orthophonic Music"
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:46 pm
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
gramophone-georg wrote:
Lucky... I have been chasing these elusive b@stards for decades. :lol:


Yes, I found my copy on a one-day sale on eBay...had I not just randomly searched for a "Victor Deluxe" that day, I never would have gotten my hands on it! Just like romance (or an STI!), they find their way to you when you least expect it!


Last edited by jmad7474 on Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:09 am 
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Victor V
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Several years back, Larry Holdridge offered a number of super clean examples of the Victor 14 inch discs in his annual auction. I don't recall how long ago, 6 or 7 years? They had come from Fred Williams' collection (if anyone here remembers him!). I didn't bid on any, the minimums were somewhere in the $200 range each. I recently purged all my old auction catalogs, so I don't know what the titles were, but perhaps someone here still has it, I reached a point last Summer where I finally decided keeping all these old catalogs from as long as 30 years ago was fun, but taking up space :lol: . A member here "Fellow Collector" also has one as I recall, but I can't remember the title.

Sean


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:21 am 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Hello Jason,

You're very welcome. I hope my opinions will somehow be helpful to you.

jmad7474 wrote:

I will definitely be on the lookout for a copy of the Guide to Victor Records! I did not know that book existed, and as someone with a Victor phonograph and a large collection of Victor records, it would certainly prove helpful to have on hand. The source I am looking at (http://www.mainspringpress.com/victor1.html) states that in March of 1905, the 12" Deluxe and 14" Deluxe Special records were discontinued...


If you read carefully, the Mainspring Press site states: "In March 1905, Victor discontinued the Monarch and Deluxe designations in favor of a uniform Victor label on all diameters." No mention is made of the DELUXE SPECIAL designation which had been in use since May 1903. By the way, Mainspring is an excellent web site and Allan Sutton, its owner, is highly knowledgeable of antique records.

jmad7474 wrote:
While I would assume that no 14" Deluxe Special records were recorded or manufactured after December 1904, it is certainly possible that dealers held onto old stock copies until February or March 1905 so they could sell the remainder off before the new Grand Prize label implementation on the newest releases.


You're right - some dealers probably had these 14" giants on their shelves for a long time. Record label designs weren't/aren't like cars, where there's a "latest model." The public bought whatever was on the record, without regard for the label design. In the pages of The Voice of the Victor, The Edison Phonograph Monthly, and The Columbia Record, you'll find many instances of dealers having record stocks several years old. The only complaints I've read there were that the titles were outdated and not selling. Companies occasionally allowed dealers to exchange their old stock for new records, but I don't recall the label (or box design in the case of cylinder records) ever being mentioned as a problem.

jmad7474 wrote:
I think your point about Victor pressing their 14" Deluxe Special records in quantities of at least 1,000 is probably realistic, but obviously very few were sold and even less have survived over the years. Again, if we assume that only around 50 of these records are still around (according to collector MusicBoxBoy who owns a copy of "The Flying Dutchman"), that begs the question of what happened to the rest of the records that were made? Were they melted down to make other records? Used as target practice among Victor employees? Thrown into the river adjacent to the Victor factory? The possibilities are endless...


I couldn't hazard a guess as to how many 14" Victors still exist - even after seeing around 130 collections all over North America. However, the Internet and forums like this one can be effective ways of at least getting an idea. Many collectors are NOT anxious to toot their own horns online (in contrast to Facebook), but these same collectors may respond to a reasoned academic study - sometimes via Personal Message.

As to the question of "What happened to all the rest?", I suspect the attrition of these 14" discs was abnormally high. I've never seen a record cabinet nor an album that could accommodate them. If placed in a stack of smaller-diameter discs, they were ripe for breakage. Who would have cared for these things once they were outdated? Those that survive today were, I think, just lucky.

jmad7474 wrote:
I think I may have been too vague on what I meant by playing the records "on the inexpensive front-mount machines". Obviously a 14" record will fit between the distance of the tonearm support mount and the spindle on these machines (and even will fit on some early Victrolas); what I meant to say was I did not know that they would have enough mainspring power to maintain a constant speed for six minutes of playing time, since I thought the early single-spring motors would go no more than five minutes per full winding, and the speed difference of 18 rpms (78 vs 60) is not that great to extend the mainspring's run time to a significant degree. However, I do know such machines can be surprisingly powerful when need be, so if anyone reading this has a 14" Deluxe Special record that s/he plays on their Type Z (for example), do let me know what your process is for playing it!


Many old mainsprings are a bit tired, and it's true that even when new, some machines probably struggled to complete a 12" disc. As for playing a 14" Victor on a disc-eating front-mount machine, if anyone is doing this - - - please stop! ;)

jmad7474 wrote:
I have added your two records to the list of known surviving 14" Deluxe Special records and corrected the catalogue number for the "1812 Overture" (that source was from an auction site with very blurry photos of the label!) Thank you for letting me know about them!


I'm happy to help, Jason. Find a copy of The Collector's Guide to Victor Records by Michael Sherman (try Googling the title with the publisher, Monarch Enterprises), and you'll enjoy it. I also think you'd enjoy reading about the nuts-and-bolts of dealer/company operations and relations in house organs like The Edison Phonograph Monthly, which I believe is available online at Dinosaurdiscs.com. The practices were quite similar among the major companies, and such insights help us think like merchandisers rather than collectors when trying to suss out the reasons for certain activities.

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:03 pm 
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Victor I
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Quite apart from their sheer size and their rarity, these records promise to be of unusual musical interest: if the 'Victor Symphony Orchestra' had even the slightest entitlement to use that name – that is, if it included any sort of string section – then the records of such classics as the Oberon and Flying Dutchman overtures must be among the earliest true orchestral recordings ever made. (Never mind that most of the pieces would have been abridged; that was still common practice twenty years later.) Has anybody actually heard any of these 'orchestral' items?

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:10 pm 
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Victor V
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Menophanes wrote:
Quite apart from their sheer size and their rarity, these records promise to be of unusual musical interest: if the 'Victor Symphony Orchestra' had even the slightest entitlement to use that name – that is, if it included any sort of string section – then the records of such classics as the Oberon and Flying Dutchman overtures must be among the earliest true orchestral recordings ever made. (Never mind that most of the pieces would have been abridged; that was still common practice twenty years later.) Has anybody actually heard any of these 'orchestral' items?

Oliver Mundy.



Flying Dutchman is on YouTube:

(Double-click the video above or click this link to go to the video on YouTube.)



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 Post subject: Re: Victor 14" Deluxe Special Record List & Questions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:38 pm 
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Victor I
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Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
52089 wrote:
Flying Dutchman is on YouTube:

(Double-click the video above or click this link to go to the video on YouTube.)



Thank you! Unfortunately this record does not tell us anything new; not only is it purely a military band (as the label description 'Concert Band' fairly acknowledges) rather than an orchestra, but the music is merely a potpourri or selection, not the overture as Wagner wrote it.

Oliver Mundy.


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