Diamond in the Rough: Antique Victrola Refinishing

Refinish antique furniture

There is a whole world of collectors out there, each of whom specialize in something delightful. One such person is our recent client, a collector from the Music Box Society, who acquires antique music boxes and phonographs. He found Armand Lee while searching for experts in furniture refinishing to restore his especially rare 1908 VV-XX Victrola.

To say the least, the Victrola required extensive wood refinishing. Jessica McGraw, Armand Lee’s management director, advised on the condition of the phonograph upon receipt, “The existing finish was sun-faded with localized areas of failing veneer. The gold embellishments had mostly worn off throughout the entire piece.”

Refinish victrola
The original finish was stripped to reveal the wood beneath.

It’s not always easy to find experts who possess the skill set necessary to restore antique furniture. Our client describes finding a business like Armand Lee as a rarity, “It’s becoming harder and harder to find true refinishers and even harder to find someone who can refinish furniture and do gold leafing. This is a rare phonograph. I usually do not refinish old pieces, but this needed to be brought back to original condition after years of mishandling. It was worth paying the price to see it restored.”

Refinish antique victrola
From stain to seal; one coat can make a big difference.

Armand Lee hosted our client three or four times to review the progress of his furniture’s restoration. After sanding the existing finish and repairing the veneer, our craftsman applied several coats of finish followed by a sealer to give the cabinet, doors, and phonograph top a glossy mahogany sheen. Once the finish was set, we gave the client a choice of gold leaf samples to be applied to the ornamentation on the panels of the Victrola.

Gold leaf furniture
Gold Leaf was applied to the Victrola’s details.

With the piece completed, it was assembled by our client and displayed in his home among his personal collection. His experience is one that left him recommending Armand Lee to his fellow antique phonograph collectors, “Everyone was very genuine. Very accommodating and professional. I could see what was going on, so I expected I was going to get a top-notch product, which I did.”

Refinished victola
The final finish and gold leaf applied to the Victrola.
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Originally published on Artmill Group

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