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Nipper (1884–1895) was a dog that served as the model for a painting titled His Late Master's Voice that later became identified with a number of audio recording and associated brands: His Master's Voice, HMV, RCA, Victor, RCA Victor and JVC.



Nipper was born in 1884 in Bristol, England, and died in September 1895.[1] It has been claimed in various sources that he was a Jack Russell Terrier,[2] a Fox Terrier[citation needed], a Dalmatian[citation needed], a Rat Terrier[citation needed] or an American Pit Bull Terrier[citation needed]. He was named Nipper because he tried to bite visitors in the leg.

Nipper’s original owner, Mark Henry Barraud, died in 1887, leaving his brothers Philip and Francis to care for the dog. Nipper himself died in 1895 and was buried in Kingston upon Thames in a small park surrounded by magnolia trees. As time progressed the area was built upon, a branch of Lloyds TSB now occupies the site. On the wall of the bank, just inside the entrance, a brass plaque is displayed commemorating the famous terrier that lies beneath the building.

On 10 March 2010 a small road near to the dog's resting place in Kingston-upon-Thames was named Nipper Alley in commemoration of this famous resident.

Nipper used to live with his owner in the Prince's Theatre in Bristol. There is a small model of Nipper above a doorway of a building at the junction of Park Row and Woodland Road in Bristol, opposite where the theatre stood.

Nipper becomes an advertising icon

In 1898, three years after Nipper’s death, Francis painted a picture based on a photograph of Nipper listening intently to a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph, substituting a disc gramophone for the phonograph. On February 11, 1899, Francis filed an application for copyright of his picture “Dog Looking At and Listening to a Phonograph.”[3] Thinking the Edison-Bell Company might find it useful, he presented it to James E. Hough who, in a move that would eventually result in Edison exiting the record business altogether, promptly said, “Dogs don’t listen to phonographs.” On May 31, 1899, Francis went to the Maiden Lane offices of The Gramophone Company with the intention of borrowing a brass horn to replace the original black horn on the painting. Manager, William Barry Owen suggested that if the artist replaced the entire machine with a Berliner disc gramophone, the Company would buy the painting. A modified form of the painting became the successful trademark of Victor and HMV records, HMV music stores, and RCA. The trademark itself was registered by Berliner on July 10, 1900.[4] (See HMV for a complete history of the brands based on Nipper.)

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