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Victrola XIII

About the middle of August 1996 CAPS member Rick Shaban asked whether I could tell him anything about a Victrola XIII. I told him that I was not familiar with this gramophone and asked for him to hold while I looked it up in my copy of "Look for the Dog".

"Look for the Dog" by Robert Baumbach, contains photographs of all known Victor Talking Machines. There are more than one hundred and forty different Victrolas illustrated in this book.

When I turned to the picture portion of this book, I found that there was information on the Victrola XII and XIV but nothing for the XIII. I asked him whether this gramophone could be a Victrola X and if the three III's could be number 111s and part of the serial number. He advised that the serial plate clearly showed XIII and that the serial number had only three digits.

I then looked at the production figures in the front of the book and found that there were only 662 of these gramophones produced during 1920 and that there was "no known illustration for this Victrola". I told him it would appear that he owned a gramophone which was extremely rare.

He brought the motor mounted to the motor board and reproducer to me for repair and overhaul. There was nothing unusual about this repair. Both motor (large barrel with two springs) and reproducer (Victrola 2) are commonly found on Victor floor models.

Rick mailed photographs of his Victrola XIII to Robert Baumbach who will include a photograph of this gramophone in the next revision of his book. The only references to the Victrola XIII in the current edition are in the introduction and the Victor Talking Machine Production Chart. According to Baumbach, the chart was based on the notebooks of B.L Aldridge, a Victor employee. His notebooks give the only information on this particular machine and was not mentioned in any other Victor document. Baumbach theorizes that the machine was dropped for no better reason than its unlucky number. It sold for $250.00 in 1920.

Rick placed an advertisement in the Michigan Antique Phonograph Society newsletter and received about ten inquiries from collectors residing in various states. He told me that he had bought this gramophone from a furniture refinishing store in the Barrie area for $350.00. This was his very first gramophone.

Although Rick has since traded his Victrola XIII, I am pleased to say that this gramophone has remained in Canada. It now belongs to a serious collector who appreciates owning a very rare machine the only one known to be in existence in North America.