The portable record player has reached middle age.

That’s right: Portable record players have reached 50 years old, and that means a collecting revival is on the horizon. The RCA record players were mid-century modern record players that have retained interest with today’s collectors.

The 1960s and 1970s marks the golden age of portable record players and turntables with built-in speakers. Teenagers would bring their box record player/stereos and handy vinyl record-carrying case to a friend’s house and listen to music after school until dinnertime.

Manufacturers that made turntables with stereo playback hi-fi sound sparked consumers’ interest and encouraged shoppers to buy turntables for the home. The hi-fi sound made them a mainstay in America’s living rooms and dens.

In the late 1800s, Regina tune sheet music boxes, Edison phonographs, and Victor Victrolas represented some of the early versions of record players.

The Regina music boxes were made in Rahway, New Jersey. Housed in a mahogany, oak, or cherry wood box, these music players used a comb mechanism to play 15-inch metal tune sheets of various songs of the day. They were portable and are often available at auctions and online.

In the early 1900s, the famous and highly recognizable Victor Victrola played music from a freestanding cabinet of solid hardwood. This piece of furniture hosted the turntable on the top beneath a domed lid, speakers that were revealed by opening two panel doors, and a storage area at the bottom that was home to records.

One point of note is that Victrolas are of interest to collectors as long as they are in working condition. Today, certain antique or vintage record players command thousands of dollars with collectors.

Since 2015, there has been an increase in the value of vintage record players and stereo cabinets housing radio receivers, speakers, and turntables. During my video-call appraisal sessions, most clients are pleasantly surprised with the market retail value for such pieces.

Digital music downloads have changed the way we listen to our favorite songs. Fortunately, convenience has not outpaced vintage style. Many of today’s collectors are adding to their contemporary music libraries with old-school vinyl records, complete with artful album covers and vintage record players.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning media personality Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide and appears on Netflix’s King of Collectibles and History channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and Pawn Stars Do America. Visit, watch videos at, or call (888) 431-1010.

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