WNTI's resident antiques and collectibles experts Brian Kathenes and Leon Castner share this bit of music technology from their new book "Betcha Didn't Know That! 101 Antiques and Collectibles Trivia Tips That Can Make You Rich, Famous, and the Hit of the Party, Volume 1.
Music from the Jersey Boys
Jersey boys have been making music for generations. Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, John McCormick, and Enrico Caruso.
But they would never have been heard by millions of fans if it weren't for another Jersey boy – Eldridge Johnson.
Johnson was a resident of Camden, NJ, and in 1901, this music maker founded the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Eldrige cared about how music sounded and how music players looked. Around 1905, he began to experiment with a novel idea to disguise the unsightly trumpet that amplified sound in existing phonographs.
When he folded the horn into a large floor standing cabinet, with doors to cover the opening, he made history…and a fortune! His idea was quickly patented and copyrighted as the "Victrola."
Victor would spend $50,000,000 on print advertising and $17,000,000 on catalogs and brochures by 1929. He turned his brand name into a generic name. Soon the word 'victrola' was applied to all phonograph players designed as furniture.
In 1927, the Victor Talking Machine went to the dogs…or at least to "Nipper," the symbol of the company's new incarnation as "RCA Victor."
Photo: NIPPER 'His Master's Voice'
Close to 7,000,000 Victrolas were produced between 1906 and 1929. Mint-condition Victrolas are routinely offered on ebay for thousands of dollars. More affordable 'stored in the attic' machines sell for as little as $200. Oak is usually better than mahogany and table models better than the floor variety. The portable phonograph was actually marketed by Sears & Roebuck as early as the 1920's and looked like a small suitcase. It cost $14.95 and was called the Portola.
Listen to Brian and Leon every Sunday at 9:00 AM -- right here on WNTI Do an amazon.com search for their book with the words "Betcha Didn't Know That!" though any Amazon.com link on our WNTI website.
The call number is 877-4-1-VALUE.
Also see Leon Castner and Brian Kathenes Bios.