Francis Barraud's original painting of Nipper looking into an Edison Bell cylinder phonograph
Species Canis lupus familiaris
Breed Probably a type of terrier
Sex Male
Born 1884
Bristol, England
Died 1895
Kingston-upon-Thames, England
Nation from British
Owner Mark Henry Barraud

Nipper (1884–1895) was a dog that served as the model for a painting titled His Late Master's Voice. This image was the basis for the dog and trumpet logo used by several audio recording and associated brands: His Master's Voice, HMV, RCA, Victor Talking Machine Company, 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 Clarence street 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 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 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.

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In 1898, three years after Nipper’s death, Francis painted a picture of Nipper listening intently to a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. On February 11, 1899, Francis filed an application for copyright of his painting “Dog Looking At and Listening to a Phonograph.”[3] Thinking the Edison-Bell Company located in New Jersey, USA, might find it useful, he presented it to James E. Hough, who 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 His Master's Voice for a complete history of the brands based on Nipper.)

The slogan “His Master’s Voice” along with the painting was sold to The Gramophone Company for 100 pounds sterling.[5] As Francis Barraud stated about this painting: “It is difficult to say how the idea came to me beyond that 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.”[6]

Logo variations

The revised painting substitutes a disc gramophone  
RCA Nipper logo introduced in 1977  
JVC Nipper logo  
HMV Nipper logo  


The Nipper stained glass atop the "Nipper Tower" in the former RCA Building 17 in Camden, N.J. This photo, taken from inside the "Nipper Tower", shows the 2003 replacement of the 1978 replacement of the 1915 original glass

Nipper lives on through the brand names; he even appeared in ads on television with his "son", a puppy named Chipper who was added to the RCA family in 1991.[7] 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.

Nipper continues to be the mascot of HMV Group plc stores in countries where the entertainment retailer has the rights to him. Both RCA Records and EMI have deemphasized Nipper in the global music market due to the fragmented ownership of the trademark.

Victor Company of Japan (JVC) also uses a version of the dog and trumpet logo within Japan, which includes the "His Master's Voice" slogan. HMV is not allowed to use Nipper in Canada and Japan.[citation needed]

A huge, four-ton Nipper can be seen on the roof of the old RTA (former RCA distributor) building now owned by Arnoff Moving & Storage [8] on Broadway in Albany, New York.[6] A second slightly smaller one, after spending many years on private property in Merrifield, Virginia, perched over Lee Highway (US Route 29), 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 is the only one of the two to include 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 townhomes. The street leading to the development is named Nipper Way.[9]


Stylized version of Nipper as used by HMV record stores
  1. ^ History of Nipper
  2. ^ BBC states he was a Jack Russell
  3. ^ Edge, Ruth & Petts, Leonard. (1997). A Collectors Guide to “His Master’s Voice” Nipper Souvenirs. EMI Group Archive Trust, plc London. ISBN 0950929328
  4. ^ Vaclav Smil, Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867–1914 and Their Lasting Impact (Oxford University Press, 2005), p240
  5. ^ Petts, Leonard. (1973). The Story of “Nipper” and the “His Master’s Voice” picture painted by Francis Barraud. Talking Machine Review, 19 Glendale Road Bournemouth BH6 4JA England. SBN 902338161
  6. ^ a b Rolfs, Joan & Robin. (2007). Nipper Collectibles, The RCA Victor Trademark Dog. Audio Antique LLC, USA. ISBN 9781932433826
  7. ^ Chipper
  8. ^ "About Us". Arnoff Moving & Storage - New York's Hudson Valley Mover of Choice. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  9. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nipper — lauscht der Stimme seines Herrn; überarbeitete Fassung von Barrauds Gemälde Nipper (* 1884 in Bristol; † September 1895 in Kingston upon Thames, England) war der Hund, der auf den Labels verschiedener Plattenfirmen in einer Pose abgebildet wurde …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • nipper — [ nipe ] v. tr. <conjug. : 1> • 1718; de nippe ♦ Fam. et vieilli ⇒ habiller. Pronom. Il s est nippé de neuf. ⇒ se saper. « C est que je suis nippée comme une princesse ! » (Balzac). ● nipper verbe transitif (de nippe) Familier. Habiller,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Nipper — Nip per, n. 1. One who, or that which, nips. [1913 Webster] 2. A fore tooth of a horse. The nippers are four in number. [1913 Webster] 3. A satirist. [Obs.] Ascham. [1913 Webster] 4. A pickpocket; a young or petty thief. [Old Cant] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nipper — (n.) small boy, 1859, originally (1530s) a pickpocket who pinched other people s property; see NIP (Cf. nip) (v.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • nipper — ► NOUN 1) informal a child. 2) (nippers) pliers, pincers, or a similar tool. 3) the claw of a crab or lobster …   English terms dictionary

  • nipper — [nip′ər] n. 1. anything that nips, or pinches 2. [pl.] any of various tools for grasping or severing wire, etc. as pliers, pincers, or forceps 3. any of certain organs of animals, used in biting, grasping, holding, etc.; specif., a) an incisor… …   English World dictionary

  • nipper — (ni pé) v. a. 1°   Fournir de nippes. •   Vous êtes très digne de bien nipper deux maîtresses à la fois, VOLT. Lett. en vers et en prose, 10c.. 2°   Se nipper, v. réfl. Se garnir de nippes. •   Quelque simplement que Thérèse se mette, jamais la… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • nipper — UK [ˈnɪpə(r)] / US [ˈnɪpər] noun [countable] Word forms nipper : singular nipper plural nippers informal old fashioned a small child …   English dictionary

  • nipper — noun a) any of various devices (as pincers) for nipping – usually used in plural Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? b) A child …   Wiktionary

  • Nipper — This very interesting name is of German origin and derives from the pre 10th century niuwe gebure translating as the agricultural worker who was new to the area . There is also a suggestion that the name could mean the dweller at the new house… …   Surnames reference

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