Nipper – The First Dog of Music

Ever wondered about the dog that graced RCA Victor records?

His name was Nipper and he was born in Bristol in 1884. He died 11 years later but his image is indelibly imprinted on our minds.

There have been suggestions that he was a fox terrier or an American Pit Bull (even a dalmatian) however, take it from me that he was a Jack Russell. Remember, in those days Jack’s had not been messed about with by the Kennel Club. He was called Nipper because he had a habit of biting people on the leg.

After his original owner died in 1887 Nipper went to live with his owner’s brothers in Kingston upon Thames which is where he was buried. 3 years after his death one of the brothers, Francis Barraud, painted a picture of Nipper listening to the horn of a Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. He tried to sell it to the Edison- Bell company but they rejected it saying that dog’s do not listen to phonographs. 250px-OriginalNipper

250px-His_Master's_VoiceOn 31st May 1899 Francis went to the Maiden lane offices of The Gramophone Company, he wanted to rework the picture replacing the black horn with the brass one in the picture. William Owen, who was the manager of the office said that if he replaced the cylinder machine with a Berliner disc gramophone the company would buy the picture.

The painting was reworked and the deal done. Francis sold the picture and the “his master’s voice” slogan for the magnificent price of £100 (That is equivalent to more than £15,000 today).

180px-VictorTalkingLogoThe rest, as they say is history. Through various interpretations Nipper’s image and memory lives on.

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