Victor Talking Machine Company

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The Victor Talking Machine Company (Victor Talking Machine Co.), or Victor for short , was one of the most important American manufacturers of gramophones and shellac records based in Camden , New Jersey . The company was founded on October 3rd, 1901, after extensive legal disputes between Emil Berliner and Eldridge R. Johnson , with the aim of reconciling patent and financial interests. In 1929, the Radio Corporation of America , or RCA for short, took over the company, which from then on used the patent and name rights it had acquired.



Ten Inch Monarch Record - Black Label. Ticklish Reuben , Cal Stewart . Catalog number 1637. First published in 1902.
Twelve Inch Victor Record - Black Label. Eugene Onegin Aria , Albert G. Janpolski . Catalog number 31463. First published in 1905.

In 1900, the designer and mechanic Eldridge R. Johnson, as well as Emil Berliner, who commercialized the horizontal recording of sound signals in the form of today's records , participated in the further development and improvement of the gramophone, including the associated sound carrier. As early as January of the same year Johnson began to produce its own shellac records and a few months later offered them to interested customers under the label Improved Record . Those pressings had a diameter of seven inches and, in contrast to the shellac records of Berliners, who did not use any imprints for his phonograms, were provided with a label made of black paper and gold-colored writing. The first publication in Johnson's record book with the matrix number A-1 dated June 28, 1900 and included a sound recording of the poem Departure by Eugene Field, performed by George Broderick , followed by publications by the most popular singers of the time such as Dan W. Quinn , SH Dudley , Marie Romaine and John York AtLee .

Taking into account the increasing sales figures, Johnson founded the Consolidated Talking Machine Company together with Leon Forrest Douglass in the summer of the same year . The company, which was later renamed Eldridge Johnson, Manufacturing Machinist due to the filing of a lawsuit by the Consolidated Talking Machine Company of America regarding existing name similarities , was now responsible for the production and marketing of the Johnson gramophones, including the associated shellac records , which from then on bore the label name Improved Gram-O-Phone Record . In total, five different models of the gramophone developed by Johnson with the model names a Toy , Type A , Type B , Type C , and Type D , as well as various sound carriers with recordings by various artists from the United States , produced in the company's own recording studios, can be acquired. In addition, recordings from the United Kingdom by musicians that complemented the musical repertoire of the Victor Talking Machine Company were available, originally made for the Gramophone Company by Fred Gaisberg and Belford Royal .


At the beginning of the following year 1901, Johnson succeeded in producing another shellac record with a larger diameter, "Ten Inch", this corresponds to about 25.4 centimeters , initially under the name "Victor Ten Inch Record" and later "Victor Monarch Record" and on the To introduce and establish a market for phonograms. With regard to the Seven Inch, Johnson was forced to change the name of the Seven Inch due to legal disputes with Berliners, who forbade him to use the word gramophone for his products, and from then on under the name "Improved Record" to avoid further possibly threatening, protracted legal proceedings In the final analysis, Johnson changed the name for his seven inch records to "Victor Record" and registered it as a trademark on March 12, 1901 .

The Victor Talking Machine Company is born

Towards the end of the year, on October 3, 1901, Emile Berliner and Johnson agreed to pool their financial and patent interests in a joint venture, the Victor Talking Machine Company, and to end the legal disputes. The new company started operations on October 5th of the same year under the leadership of Johnson and with the participation of Leon Forrest Douglass , who acted as vice president and general manager. In addition, Thomas S. Parvin joined the company as treasurer, AC Middleton became secretary and Horace Pettit was responsible for the legal department. Regarding the issue of participations, it was agreed to distribute 20,000 common shares and 5,000 preferred shares , depending on the tangible and intangible assets brought into the company, among the various shareholders. The company's headquarters and manufacturing facilities were set up in Camden , New Jersey , the town where Johnson was previously doing business. The recording studio, on the other hand, moved into its premises in the metropolis of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania , across from Camden, separated by the Delaware River .

Various agreements were made with the Gramophone Company, a company originally founded by Emile Berliner for the European market, which on the one hand provided for the participation in the costs for the development department of the Victor Talking Machine Company and on the other hand included the obligation to transfer a 25 percent share in order to In return, to receive patent and trademark protection from “Victor”. The Gramophone Company was also granted the right to sell gramophones in Europe , in particular within the United Kingdom, including its colonies and possessions, as well as in Russia and Japan .


Nipper , who listens to his master's voice - " His Master's Voice " - painted at the beginning of 1899 by the London artist Francis James Barraud and sold to the Gramophone Company for use as a trademark, also graced the Victor Talking Machine labels from 1902 onwards Company. In January of the same year Johnson and Douglass took over the Globe Record Company and immediately sold it to the American Graphophone Company . With the signing of the contract, negotiations began with the Columbia Phonograph Company regarding their marketing interests, which resulted in legal disputes, but were ultimately settled by means of extrajudicial agreements. Towards the end of the year Victor was able to announce the production of over two million shellac records, partly due to the fact that the company held the most important patents of the gramophone market at the time and an improved record press developed by Johnson for the production of the phonograms for the Use came.

While in Europe the Gramophone Company also produced classical music in its recording studios, for example with the aspiring Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso in those years , but also with the Russian-born bass Fyodor Ivanovich Chalyapin , and this under a higher-priced label specially created for this in red , was offered for sale, “Victor Records” specialized in the publishing of well-known pieces of music, humorous songs, recitations and band music from the most popular genres at the time. The repertoire of classical pieces, on the other hand, was limited to a few records by artists such as those of George Broderick , Rosalia Chalia and Emilo de Gogorza . This only changed with the market launch of the label " Victor Red Seal ", originally borrowed from the Gramophone Company, in the United States in 1903, combined with the import of twenty-five classic recordings, including those by Enrico Caruso.

As a further innovation, Victor introduced fixed, systematically ordered catalog numbers in the same year and exchanged the existing “Fourteen Inch”, which corresponds to about 35.56 cm, De Luxe Record series for the De Luxe Special Record series with a rotation speed of 60 / min followed, towards the end of the year, by a "Twelve Inch", which corresponds to about 30.48 cm, a De Luxe Black Label series and a Read Seal series of the same size. Furthermore, Johnson improved the technical equipment of the offered gramophones by overhauling the tonearm. The Philadelphia recording studios were administered by Calvin G. Child. Manager was Harry O. Sooy , later shared with his brothers Raymond A. Sooy and Charles E. Sooy. The first music director was Arthur W. Pryor, followed shortly after by Walter B. Rogers .


Enrico Caruso with a device made for him by the Victrola brand.

In 1906 Victor introduced a new type of gramophone with the brand name Victrola , in which the mechanical components and the bell were integrated in a wooden housing and there was storage space for shellac records . There was a door on the front of the devices through which the volume could be influenced in a targeted manner by opening and closing. The patent rights for this novel intercom construction long with Eldridge R. Johnson, who applied for it on December 8, 1904 and was finally granted on June 11, 1907 under the number US 856,704.

The 1920s

In 1924 Victor acquired the Canadian Berlin Gramophone . In 1925, Victor introduced the new electrical (instead of the previous mechanical or acoustic) recording technology under the name Orthophonic . In 1928 Johnson sold his Victor shares, which were acquired by Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1929 . The label was then marketed as the Radio-Victor Division of the Radio Corporation of America and later as RCA Victor .

The Victor Company of Japan, Limited ( JVC ) , was founded in 1927, was independent from Victor in 1940 and is now a brand known worldwide.


  1. The Consolidated Talking Machine Company of America was a holding company founded by Emil Berliner through his company, the Berliner Gramophone Company and the United States Gramophone Company .

Music makers and repertoire


For the sound carrier publications of the Victor Talking Machine Company see


Web links

Commons : Victor Talking Machine Company  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Victor Ten Inch Record. Discogs, accessed August 3, 2017 .
  2. ^ Victor Monarch Record. Discogs, accessed August 3, 2017 .
  3. Improved Record. Discogs, accessed August 3, 2017 .
  4. Victor Red Seal. Discogs, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  5. ER Johnson: Talking Machine. (pdf) June 11, 1907, accessed on February 5, 2018 (English, original patent specification).
  6. Nellie Melba. Discogs, accessed August 8, 2017 .
  7. Adelina Patti. Discogs, accessed August 8, 2017 .