What is a phonograph worth? That is a question that can not be easily answered… However, I can expand on my personal experience in the general Virginia and North Carolina market in the 2016 – 2018 time period. In this part of the country, we most typically encounter the mass produced Columbia Grafonolas, Victor Victrolas, Pathe, Sonoras, Edisons, and other regional off brand phonographs. The external horn models are getting scarce.
Many external horn machines are now residing in private collections, museums, and higher end antiques shops. Edison cylinder machines and Columbia disc/cylinder machines do come to market and can be found if you’re in the right place at the right time… Prices vary from $600 up to $1500 for typical models depending on condition.
What the “average joe” collector will most likely encounter at a yard sale or antiques shop is one of the mass produced floor model machines mentioned in the first paragraph. I have observed prices from $100 to $600. Keep in mind, location is everything. A Victrola that is for sale at a higher end antiques mall in northern Virginia will probably be priced higher than the same Victrola in rural North Carolina. But, the key factor is… not what the price tag says, but what will it actually sell for!
A non working floor model Victrola can dip as low as $75 to $100 at an auction. A working model that does not need any major refinishing and plays would probably average $275 to $375. If the woodwork is ornate and the condition is exceptional – the price could increase to the $500 to $600 range. Prices could also go up if original paperwork, catalogs, record brushes, needle tins, and other memorabilia is included. The sky is the limit…
I would not attempt to give anybody reading this a firm appraisal until I knew the details of their particular phonograph. Who knows, it may be an early prototype or have a cult following of collectors that would drive the price up. I will say this; there is a future generation of collectors coming up – and values will only go up over time… That is my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Please remember though, phonographs (and antiques in general) have a historic value apart from their monetary value. These were Christmas presents in their day, the focal point in somebody’s home. Even if they aren’t currently worth exactly what you thought, they do deserve to be appreciated and saved…. If you have a phonograph and want to learn more about it, sell it, or have general questions – please contact me via email.