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The Victor Record Pages

Victor Record Sales Statistics
(1901-1941)

  

“Sales by Class of Record and Total Sales of Records by Units,
Years 1901 and 1941 Inclusive”

Exhibit: U.S. District Court, S.D. of N.Y., Jan. 26 1943

 YEAR

RED SEAL

BLACK

BLUEBIRD

MISC 1

TOTAL
1901  2  

 244,063

 

 12,845

256,908

 1902  

 1,611,451

 

 84,845

 1,696,296

 1903

 306,312

 1,561,422

 

 98,302

 1,966,036

 1904

404,308 

 2,060,952

 

 129,751

 2,595,011

 1905

555,540 

 2,831,855

 

 178,284

 3,565,679

 1906

1,098,680 

 5,600,506

 

 352,589

 7,051,775

 1907

1,197,604 

 6,104,770

 

 384,335

 7,686,709

 1908  3

 817,671

 4,168,069

 

 262,407

 5,248,147

 1909

 722,837

 3,684,653

 

 231,973

 4,639,463

 1910

 932,942

 4,755,662

 

 299,400

 5,988,004

 1911

 966,895

 4,928,738

 

 310,296

 6,205,929

 1912

 1,425,646

 7,267,209

 

 457,519

 9,150,374

 1913

 1,727,296

 8,804,869

 

 554,324

 11,086,489

 1914

 2,113,450

 10,773,286

 

 678,249

 13,564,985

 1915

 4,054,947

 13,431,394

 

 1,162,688

 18,649,029

 1916

 4,054,127

 20,619,981

 

 1,298,164

 25,963,272

 1917

 4,323,714

 22,040,072

 

 1,387,568

 27,751,354

 1918 4

 5,761,848

 14,004,062

 

 1,781,137

 21,547,047

 1919

 6,023,014

 21,842,914

 

 2,985,599

 30,851,527

 1920

 9,516,032

 24,074,141

 

 1,836,402

 33,426,575

 1921 5

 12,394,212

 39,655,577

 

 2,871,066

 54,920,855

 1922

 6,049,348

 29,202,897

 

 1,910,472

 37,162,717

 1923

 6,318,070

 32,527,417

 

 1,696,993

 40,542,480

 1924

 5,113,866

 26,067,863

 

 1,641,144

 32,822,873

 1925 6

 3,921,784

 19,991,240

 

 1,258,580

 25,171,604

 1926

 4,965,971

 25,313,968

 

 1,593,681

 31,873,620

 1927 7

 2,984,501

 34,234,937

 

 405,991

 37,625,429

 1928

 2,921,414

 32,677,018

 

 2,166,474

 37,764,906

 1929

 2,060,666

 27,798,769

 

 4,634,012

 34,493,447

 1930

 1,245,350

 15,363,999

 

 1,101,171

 17,710,520

 1931

 544,044

 6,117,241

 

 432,632

 7,093,917

 1932

 305,876

 2,465,013

 

 348,160

 3,119,049

 1933 8

 257,347

 1,648,214

 678,469

 1,051,683

 3,635,713

 1934

 368,509

 1,679,233

 1,287,651

 1,103,842

 4,439,235

 1935

 570,679

 2,363,108

 1,225,287

 592,145

 4,751,219

 1936

 865,770

 3,519,695

 2,691,720

 599,341

 7,676,526

 1937

 1,303,678

 4,117,917

 3,868,707

 1,204,308

 10,494,610

 1938

 2,207,453

 5,850,000

 4,454,000

 693,321

 13,205,366

 1939

 3,504,365

 9,447,474

 10,575,158

 721,792

 24,248,789

 1940

 5,778,273

 13,948,330

 14,096,089

 1,735,795

 35,558,487

 1941

 15,052,727

 16,194,507

 23,409,916

 1,611,283

 56,268,433

 TOTAL

 131,736,650

 541,671,542

79,697,688

 44,331,251

 797,437,131

1 It is not known what "Miscellaneous" refers to before 1910. One likely suggestion is that this category includes export pressings. Several researchers have suggested these figures may include domestic Zon-O-Phone sales after 1904. However, that is a questionable assumption, given Universal Talking Machine Company's existence as a separate legal entity. After 1910, this category includes the purple- and blue-label series, client labels, special pressings, etc.

2 These figures probably commence with the founding of the Victor Talking Machine Company in October 1901. They might have been higher had pre-VTM sales of Eldridge Johnson products been included. (See Evolution of the Victor Label for samples of Johnson's pre-VTM labels.)

3 The decline of 1908-1909 probably reflects the lingering effects of the 1907 Panic, combined with sales lost to Columbia's new Double Discs, which offered two selections for only a nickel more than a single-sided Victor. Although Victor introduced its own double-siders in late 1908, it initially was reluctant to promote them and charged a dime more than Columbia.

4 Record production decreased during 1918 as much of the Victor factory was converted to war production.

5 The height of the post-war phonograph boom; this level of sales would not be attained again until 1941. The effects of the 1921 recession, and possibly the beginnings of competition from radio, can be seen in the following year's decline.

6 By 1925, Victor was clearly feeling the effects of competition from radio and from more progressive labels like Brunswick, Okeh, and the newly revamped Columbia. An uptick in sales at the end of 1926 coincided with more liberal artist-and-repertoire policies in the wake of Eldridge Johnson's resignation, and the growing popularity of the new Orthophonic electrical recordings.

7 The sudden decline in "Miscellaneous" sales is attributable to the discontinuation of the purple- and blue-label series. The equally dramatic increases in 1928–1929 may reflect domestic sales of His Master's Voice pressings, which Victor had begun to import from England.

8 "Miscellaneous" sales for 1933–1941 probably include Montgomery Ward records which, as a client label, was in a separate category from RCA's own Bluebird. The lower figures in 1935–1936 and 1938–1939 correspond to periods in which RCA shared production of the Montgomery Ward label with Decca.

 


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