Skip to main content

Exhibits at the Wilson Music Library: Victrola and Lemonade Party

This guide contains supplemental information about exhibits curated by undergraduate student employees.

Happy 100th Birthday, Victor the Eight!

Every spring, the Wilson Music Library hosts a Victrola and Lemonade Party. The event gives students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to listen to acoustic 78s on our Victor VIII tabletop Victrola. This year marks the centenary of our Victrola, known affectionately as "Victor the Eight." Corresponding exhibits in the library demonstrate the variety of formats used to capture our recorded history. 

About Victor the Eight:

Manufactured in 1917, the Victor VV-VIII is a tabletop model equipped with a two-spring motor, 10 inch turntable, and lid. The model was introduced in September of 1911, and was discontinued in 1924. The Victor VIII originally sold for $40.00; by the time that the final units were sold in 1926, the price was $50.00. Approximately 186,000 units were produced over the model's run.

Nipper, the playful pup listening to a gramophone recording remains an advertising icon. Nipper's owner painted the picture three years after the dog's death, unaware that it would become synonymous with the Victor name.

While commonly referred to as 78s, phonograph discs ranged from 60 to 130 rpm. By 1910, most recordings were recorded at 78 to 80 rpm, but only in 1925 was 78.26 rpm agreed upon as the industry standard. 

This model of Victrola (and many others) uses steel needles. These needles can only be used once without causing damage to the surface of the record.

Large Exhibit Case: Early Sound Recording Formats

The Wilson Music Library's large exhibit case (located in the main hallway near the copy room) contains several examples of older audio formats, including a wax cylinder, Edison Diamond Disc, Victrola flat discs of varying playback speeds, and a wire recording. You can listen to recordings of the physical media on display via the playlist below.

  1. Wax Cylinder. Charles Gounod, Ballet Music from Faust, Edison Concert Band, Edison Gold Moulded Record, 8516, 1903, UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive, accessed March 21, 2017.
  2. Edison Diamond Disc. Dixie Melody, Fred Van Eps, banjo, Edison 50195, 80 rpm, [1914], YouTube video, THEVICTROLAGUY, accessed March 21, 2017.
  3. 78 rpm, 10 inch disc.Teodoro Cottrau, "L'Addio a Napoli," Enrico Caruso, tenor, 87312 Victrola, 1919, 78 rpm, Discography of American Historical Recordings, accessed March 22, 2017.
  4. 78 rpm, 12 inch disc. Jerome Kern, Gems from Leave It To Jane, Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, lyrics, Victor Light Opera Company, 35666 Victor, 1918, 78 rpm, Discography of American Historical Recordings, accessed March 22, 2017.
  5. Wire Recording. The University of Akron, "Rebuilt Wire Recorder Brings Post WWII Recording to Life," YouTube, accessed March 22, 2017. This video details the discovery of a lost wire recording of songs by Holocaust survivors (the "Henonville Songs"), recorded by psychologist David Broder during interviews he conducted with 130 Jewish survivors in the summer of 1946.

Vanderbilt On Record:

The small exhibit case (near the Victrola) features sound recordings from Vanderbilt University. University-wide ensembles like the Marching Band and A Cappella Choir have issued recordings for the alumni audience on 78, 33 1/3 LP, and CD. The Wilson Music Library holds the masters for recitals and concerts performed at Peabody College, the Blair Academy, and the Blair School of Music. These recordings are being digitized and preserved via the Blair Performance Archive, which can be accessed below.