OF THE CRAP-O-PHONE!
(For more on phonographic fakes, visit CRAP-O-PHONES AND OTHER PHONOGRAPH FORGERIES)
"Victrolas" from Asia often show up on online auction sites, at flea markets, and in other venues that attract novice collectors. Crap-O-Phones (so-named
by the advanced collecting community) use a hodge-podge of parts
scavenged out of junky wind-up portables, which were made in
India into the 1960s, and poor-quality reproduction parts. This
motley assortment is then dropped into new boxes and
finished off with a flimsy new sheet-brass horn and back bracket. The machines
do work, but often not for long. They
are produced solely to deceive.
Many dealers knowingly misrepresent these machines as the real
thing, and price them accordingly. Others are somewhat more honest,
calling them call "reproductions" or "replicas,"
but this isn't correct, either. No such machines ever existed in the open-horn era; Crap-O-Phones
are historically incorrect bastardizations, tossed together from mismatched junk parts. In
addition, their unauthorized use of the "Master's Voice"
trademark is an infringement of copyright law.
Crap-O-Phone currently wholseale for $45 on average (down from about $75 a few years ago as the market got increasingly glutted), and eBay "Power Sellers" post dozens every week, fetching $100-$200 or so. Even
at that, these machines are are no bargain. The cheap motors and
flimsy new back brackets are especially vulnerable to breakage.
Reproducers often have decaying white-metal parts and dried-out
gaskets, or are badly out of adjustment and will damage your records. Costs to repair or replace
these parts would exceed the minimal value of the machine.
A few things to look for when shopping for an outside-horn machine:
- The elbow
(the piece that connects horn to arm) should be smoothly curved,
heavy, high-quality casting. Crap-O-Phone elbows are sharply
angled and fabricated of cheap, soldered sheet brass.
- The back
bracket (the piece that supports the horn/arm assembly) should
be a heavy, high-quality casting. Crap-O-Phone brackets are usually
crudely cast of cheap, brittle white-metal.
- The reproducer
should have an open face that reveals the diaphragm. Crap-O-Phones
use much later, low-end reproducers (some from as late as 1940-1960)
with metal face covers and diaphragms.
- The crank
should be perfectly horizontal and not disproportionately long.
Crap-O-Phone cranks are often angled and out of proportion to
the case, since they are taken from machines with different dimensions.
- A stamped
metal nameplate with model and serial number should be attached
to the case. Most Crap-O-Phones substitute a cheap, new colored
print or decal of "His Master's Voice."
- Beware of
any outside-horn machine with a Thorens motor. This is a sure
sign of a Crap-O-Phone.
- Watch out
for lumpy, soft, or purplish finishes, like those seen on cheap
imported furniture imported from India.
- Novelty cases
(glass-sided, circular, hexagonal, etc.) are common on Crap-O-Phones
but rarely occur on authentic machines, especially American models.
- Watch out
for cases with filled or nonfunctional holes; some Crap-O-Phones
use old cases that have been reconfigured to accept parts that
were never meant to be placed in them.
© 1999 by Mainspring
Press. THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRODUCED AND DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT CHARGE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COLLECTING COMMUNITY.