The Decca 88, the "RP" Portable

All the machines NOT Covered above ie : Continental, Unbranded, Small firms & Any Portable machines (other than By HMV)
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The Decca 88, the "RP" Portable

Post by Gmemg » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:52 pm

For many years i've wanted a Decca 88 Portable gramophone - i saw one at the Newark Antiques fair 20 years ago and was most impressed, not by the Then very high price (£120) but by the sheer quality - until i saw the Leather had been stripped from the outside !

I have thus searched in vain for another ever since - IN VAIN, it's an odd fact that despite Decca Being one of the "big Three" gramophone Makers in the UK (Yes, pedants will say "Well, they are just Swiss you know Old Boy " ) and arguably the First Mass - Market portable makers with the "Trench - Type" from 1913 onwards, certainly before HMV & Columbia their better products are rather hard to find - and then in a condition that's not great, I've seen only 2 examples of these in 30 years of collecting and this is the second !

I saw this on Ebay a few weeks ago and thought i'd buy it - described as "for spares" it didn't look bad and as spares for this model would be impossible to find elsewhere i thought i'd buy it in case another, better one turned up missing something vital ! sadly i was busy shifting & sorting records and missed it !(blast) Then it was re - listed and i bought it for £9.99 + £20 for postage !

It arrived - and the description was correct - the case is heavily woodwormed, the soundbox is missing and one of the springs is broken - i cleaned the case - which was in excellent condition - all the leather is present and the stitching in excellent order and applied Dark tan Boot polish filling in the holes left by the woodwork - because of the texture you don't see them !

BUT i am seriously impressed - the Textured Hide case is very high quality, the machine is solid & heavy and despite it's condition it has a "presence". no other portable has impressed me more - the De - Luxe HMVs use such fragile leather they cannot be let outside a display case without damage or fading and other Portables are flimsy or just standard models "tarted up" or are just Novelty models using Gimmicks to sell themselves whilst this was MADE as a Decca 88 and is not only De -luxe but uses a Long tonearm and exponential Horn so the sound's good too ! (very rare combination)

The outer fittings have darkened - they would originally have been a "Antique Gilt" lacquer over brass plating over Steel so rather hard to do too much with without stripping, re - plating and making the thing look worse but the soundbox is a typical Decca Telesmatic and as i have a number of spares (nickel) i can have one gilt - lacquered and a new spring fitted and will have a working machine. it will never be in "leading Collector "Condition but that doesn't worry me as i will have a really De - Luxe portable that i can use and if, on a Picnic it gets a little damp from being o the grass or a cheese sandwich gets stuck under the turntable then no harm's done - it could even be strapped to the running board of a Vintage car - and will be next Summer ..........Pictures to follow

BUT what if i were to find one in a Condition the "leading Collector" Would approve of ? how much would i pay then ? Well, I am SO impressed with this one that, even though most portables are virtually worthless now should one of these turn up i would pay maybe £400 or even more !

Here it is :

The Outer case - Textured Hide Leather, To match "Croc" Luggage


The Side View Showing the Original "Antique Gilt" Finish to the "hinge"


The Hinge & Back panel which slides under the back face of the Lid to link the two parts of the horn


The Decca Patent Locks with securing clips


The Gilded Interior


The Decca Patent Plate - sadly these are vulnerable due to a design fault and, as here can become crumpled if a needle tin falls into the hinge


The Decca Patent Needle Drawer -Note : "Employ" Decca Needles NOT "use Decca Needles" this was a portable for those who spoke "Received Pronunciation" and not the "hoi - Polloi"


The Hinge which allows the two parts of the horn to join


The Long Horn - combined with the Susiciously Similar to HMV 511 Tonearm !


The Swiss Motor

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