Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fake Chinese Phonograph, Rare Authentic Chinese Victor Label (1904)

Fake Chinese Victrola

During my first visit to Shanghai, I was delighted to discover the antiques row in the old section of town (Fang Bang Road & Zhizhong Lu) while out for an afternnon bicycle ride. At first glimpse, it appeared to be a motherlode of curios and collectibles, ranging from fifty to thousands of years old. Needless to say, it didn't take much time to figure out that a great many of these items were "genuine fake antiques", yet Very convincing to the layperson. There seemed to be an abundancy of turn of the century wind up Victrola phonographs with morning glory horns, obviously fake to the trained eye. I have seen these before, usually in bad antique mall places in the U.S., where it is common for even the vendor to believe it is the genuine article. My phonograph collector buddies refer to these machines as Frankenphones, because they are slapped together out of some original parts, mixed with bad reproduction parts, and cabinetry built by children in India. Some of these machines are complete reproductions altogether. 

When I returned from my bike ride, I got on the internet and began researching Chinese Victrolas, just to see if there were any authentic examples. What I found was a site page (My Old Phonograph Site) dedicated to  these counterfeit machines and how to properly recognize the flaws as to avoid being suckered.
My research led me further , to a site (
The Mainspring Press) where I found this rare Chinese Victor Label circa 1904, depicting an indigenous Chinese man listening to a phonograph, rather than the traditional logo with company mascot Nipper The Dog. This was a very short lived series, and the content was not actually recorded by the Victor company, but rather licensed from the Zonophone record/phonograph company. 

Chinese Victor Label 1904

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