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Coordinates: 51°24′40″N 0°18′08″W / 51.410990°N 0.302226°W / 51.410990; -0.302226
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Photo of Francis Barraud's original 1898 His Master's Voice painting depicting an Edison cylinder phonograph
SpeciesCanis familiaris
BreedMongrel (part terrier)
Born1884 (1884)
Bristol, England
DiedSeptember 1895(1895-09-00) (aged 10–11)
Resting placeKingston upon Thames, England
51°24′40″N 0°18′08″W / 51.410990°N 0.302226°W / 51.410990; -0.302226
Nation fromBritain
OwnerMark Henry Barraud

Nipper (1884 – September 1895), also known as the RCA Victor dog, was a dog from Bristol, England. Bred as a terrier mix, he served as the model for a 1898 painting by British painter Francis Barraud titled His Master's Voice. This image became one of the world's best known trademarks, the famous dog-and-gramophone pairing that was used by several record companies and their associated company brands, including Berliner Gramophone and its various affiliates and successors, among them Berliner's German subsidiary Deutsche Grammophon; Berliner's American successor the Victor Talking Machine Co. (later known as RCA Victor and then RCA Records); Zonophone; Berliner's (and later Victor's) British affiliate the Gramophone Co. Ltd. (informally known as His Master's Voice) and its successors EMI and HMV Retail Ltd.; the Gramophone Co.'s German subsidiary Electrola; and former Victor subsidiary the Japan Victor Company (JVC).


Nipper was born in 1884 in Bristol, England, and died in September 1895.[1] He was likely a mixed-breed dog, although most early sources suggest that he was a Smooth Fox Terrier, or perhaps a Jack Russell Terrier,[2][3][4] or possibly "part Bull Terrier".[5] He was named Nipper because he would often "nip" at the backs of visitors' legs.[6]

Nipper originally lived with his owner, Mark Henry Barraud, in the Prince's Theatre where Barraud was a scenery designer.[7] When Barraud died in 1887, his brothers Philip and Francis took care of the dog, then Francis took Nipper to Liverpool, and later to Mark's widow in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Nipper died of natural causes in 1895 and was buried in Kingston upon Thames at Clarence Street, in a small park surrounded by magnolia trees. As time progressed, the area was built upon, and a branch of Lloyds Bank now occupies the site. On the wall of the bank, just inside the entrance, a brass plaque commemorates the terrier that lies beneath the building.[8]

On 10 March 2010, a small road near to the dog's final resting place in Kingston upon Thames was officially named Nipper Alley in commemoration of this well-known resident.[8]

Advertising icon[edit]

In 1898, three years after Nipper's death, Francis Barraud, the brother of Nipper's original owner, painted a picture of the dog listening intently to an Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. Thinking the Edison-Bell Company located in New Jersey, United States,[6] might be interested in the painting, he offered it to James E. Hough, Edison-Bell's British representative, who promptly replied, "Dogs don't listen to phonographs". On 31 May 1899, Barraud visited the Maiden Lane offices of The Gramophone Company to inquire about borrowing a brass horn to replace the original black horn in order to brighten up the painting. When Gramophone Company founder and manager William Barry Owen was shown the painting, he suggested that if the artist painted out the cylinder machine and replaced it with a Berliner disc gramophone, he would buy the painting. Barraud obliged, and the image soon became the successful trademark of the Victor Talking Machine Company and the affiliated Gramophone Company Ltd. record labels, and eventually the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), after the acquisition of the Victor company in 1929, Electric and Musical Industries Limited in 1931, and HMV. Emile Berliner registered the trademark for use in the United States on 10 July 1900.[9]

It is difficult to say how the idea came to me beyond the fact that it suddenly occurred to me that to have my dog listening to the phonograph, with an intelligent and rather puzzled expression, and call it 'His Master's Voice' would make an excellent subject. We had a phonograph and I often noticed how puzzled he was to make out where the voice came from. It certainly was the happiest thought I ever had.

— Francis Barraud[10]

The slogan "His Master's Voice", along with the painting, was sold to The Gramophone Company for £100 (equivalent to £13,667 in 2023) – half for the copyright and half for the physical painting itself.[11] The original oil painting hung in the EMI boardroom in Hayes, Middlesex, for many years.

It appears that after the image was copyrighted, two employees of the Gramophone Company, William Sinkler Darby and Theodore Bernard Birnbaum, recorded a Mutoscope in 1900 entitled 'Nipper runs amok!'. Since the real Nipper had died in 1895, another dog was used.[12]

Logo variations[edit]


One of four stained glass windows atop the "Nipper Building", the former RCA Victor Building 17 in Camden, New Jersey. This photo, taken from inside the tower, shows the 2003 replacement of the 1979 replacement of the original 1915 glass.

The iconic image of a terrier-mix dog, Nipper, looking into a phonograph became an international symbol of quality and excellence for the Victor Talking Machine Company and later RCA Victor. Throughout his existence as one of the world's best-known trademarks, endless novelty and promotional items featuring Nipper have been produced; from pocket watches, salt and pepper shakers, paperweights, cigar lighters and stuffed toys to coin banks, coffee mugs, T-shirts, neckties and clocks, Nipper advertising items have long been popular collectables.[13] Though the trademark's usage has been reduced in recent years, Nipper lives on through the RCA and HMV brand names; he has even appeared in RCA ads on television with his "son", a puppy named Chipper who was added to the RCA family in 1991.[14] Real dogs continue to play the roles of Nipper and Chipper, but Chipper has to be replaced much more frequently, since his character is a puppy.[citation needed] Nipper is sometimes referred to as the "RCA dog".[15][16]

Nipper continues to be the mascot of HMV stores in countries where the entertainment retailer has the rights to him. Since the early 2000's, both RCA Records and EMI reduced the use of Nipper in the global music market due to the fragmented ownership of the trademark.[citation needed]

Victor Company of Japan (JVC) uses the logo only within Japan, which includes the phrase "His Master's Voice".[citation needed]

A four-ton Nipper can be seen on the roof of the former RCA distribution building now owned by Arnoff Moving & Storage[17] and located at 991 Broadway in Albany, New York.[10] A second, slightly smaller one was purchased by Jim Wells from RCA in Baltimore for $1. After spending many years on private property in Nipper Park in Merrifield, Virginia, perched over Lee Highway (U.S. Route 29), it has now been returned to Baltimore, Maryland, where it originally graced the former RCA Building on Russell Street. Nipper now sits atop the Maryland Historical Society building at Park Avenue and West Centre Street in Baltimore. Though smaller than the Albany Nipper, Baltimore's includes a gramophone for Nipper to listen to. The Baltimore Nipper was saved when the Virginia site where he briefly resided was sold to developers. It is currently the location of a group of town-houses. The street leading to the development is named Nipper Way.[18]

A small statue of Nipper can be seen perched above a doorway in the Merchant Venturers Building on the corner of Park Row and Woodland Road in Bristol; this building, part of the University of Bristol, stands near the site of the old Prince's Theatre.[citation needed]

Nipper atop the old RCA distribution building in Albany, New York
3D replica of His Master's Voice
Nipper above a doorway of the Merchant Venturers Building in Bristol

A life-sized ornament of Nipper appears in the music video to Cyndi Lauper's song "Time After Time".[19]

In May 2017, the City of Albany held a contest for various groups or artists to submit designs for creative, painted Nipper statues which were placed throughout the city. Ten of the contestants were chosen to create ten Nipper statues – which were displayed for one year and then auctioned off for charity.[20]

Various reproductions of Nipper can be found in the permanent exhibition of the Musée des ondes Emile Berliner in Montreal, Quebec,[21] a museum dedicated to the work of Emile Berliner and his companies that Nipper was the face of.

At the Space Mountain rollercoaster, a replication of Nipper with the gramophone appeared inside of a spaceship, and remained until the sponsorship from RCA to Walt Disney World ended, upon which he was made into a robot dog and moved elsewhere within the queue.[22]

See also[edit]


Nipper as used by HMV record stores
  1. ^ "The History of Nipper and His Master's Voice". erikoest.dk.
  2. ^ "HMV seeks budding Nipper". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC.
  3. ^ Fudge, Erica (2002). Animal. London: Reaktion. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-86189-134-1.
  4. ^ Angell, Roger (30 November 2011). "The Wrong Dog". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  5. ^ Cunliffe, Juliette (2000). The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. Bath, England: Parragon. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7525-4161-7.
  6. ^ a b "the nipper saga". designboom.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  7. ^ "The History of the Department of Computer Science". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Kingston's Toilet Gallery alley named after HMV dog Nipper". Surrey Comet. 1 January 2010.
  9. ^ Vaclav Smil, Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867–1914 and Their Lasting Impact (Oxford University Press, 2005), p240
  10. ^ a b Rolfs, Joan & Robin. (2007). Nipper Collectibles, The RCA Victor Trademark Dog. Audio Antique LLC, USA. ISBN 978-1-932433-82-1
  11. ^ Petts, Leonard (1973). "The Story of "Nipper" and the "His Master's Voice" Francis Barraud's painting". Talking Machine Review. ISBN 0902338161.
  12. ^ "Secrets of the EMI Archive – 1". EMI Archive Trust.
  13. ^ "Johnson Victrola Museum, Dover, Delaware". Archived from the original on 31 December 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  14. ^ Chipper
  15. ^ Berns, Gregory (2013). How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-544-11451-7.
  16. ^ Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (8 October 2013). Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs. National Geographic Books. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-4262-1263-5.
  17. ^ "About Us". Arnoff Moving & Storage - New York's Hudson Valley Mover of Choice. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  18. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  19. ^ "Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time (Official HD Video)". YouTube. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  20. ^ Barnes, Steve (13 July 2017). "Albany summer street exhibit features Nipper statues". Times Union. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Mon cher Nipper c'est à ton tour : une exposition qui a du chien... depuis 100 ans". Musée des ondes Emile Berliner (in French). Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  22. ^ Ace, Shannen (3 February 2023). "New Stitch & RCA Dog Space Mountain Pin Lands at Walt Disney World - WDW News Today". wdwnt.com. WDW NEWS TODAY.

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