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'NIPPER'  ADVERTISING TRADE MARK FOR HMV, 1940's

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'NIPPER' ADVERTISING TRADE MARK FOR HMV, 1940's

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

In 1898, three years after Nipper’s death, his owner painted a picture of Nipper listening intently to a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. On February 11th 1899 he filed an application for copyright of his picture “Dog Looking At and Listening to a Phonograph.” Thinking the Edison-Bell Company might find it useful, he presented it to James E. Hough who (displaying the kind of thinking that would eventually doom the Edison Records company itself) promptly said, “Dogs don’t listen to phonographs”.

On May 31st 1899, Nippers owner 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.

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