V is for Victor and Voice

I wonder if she knew about REAL kitsch, and a REALLY big dog.


The story of Nipper is rather interesting, involving struggling artist Francis Barraud, and his by-then deceased dog, which had previously belonged to his brother. The painting was originally called “Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph”; only later would it be dubbed “His Master’s VOICE”. Through a series of transactions, as described here, Nipper became the trademark of the VICTOR Talking Machine Company. The original 1900 trademark is shown below.


Ultimately, the logo was on a wealth of RCA Victor records. RCA Victor put out an 80th anniversary series of albums in 1997. The earliest album represented a period when “Victor was the leading jazz label.” But I associate RCA V with classical music, often played by the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra. RCA Victor was always a technological pioneer, experimenting with 33 1/3 RPM as far back as 1934, and introducing the 45 RPM in 1949.

When a Long Island photographer recently described a local Nipper as “a big kitschy dog”, I wonder if she knew about REAL kitsch and a REALLY big dog:

From Wikipedia: “A huge, four-ton Nipper can be seen on the roof of the old RTA (former RCA distributor) building on Broadway in Albany, New York.” It is likely the largest extant Nipper in the world, though the Baltimore Nipper DOES include “a gramophone for Nipper to listen to.” More details about Albany’s Nipper, a local landmark that I see every weekday on my way to work, can be found here.

Local musician Greg Haymes, a/k/a Sarge Blotto from the legendary Albany band Blotto, has a blog with Sara Ayers called Nippertown, where they run down the current happenings in and around New York State’s capital city. And guess what appears in the logo?


ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

36 thoughts on “V is for Victor and Voice”

  1. It’s only recently I learnt that the big music store HMV, whose logo is the dog, stood for ‘His Master’s Voice’. Great post Roger!

  2. What an interesting story! I always liked Nipper because he was listening so intently to the voice of his master. Thank you for this post. I wish you a great advent time. At this moment I am listening to music of Taizé!

  3. I didn’t even know that the dog had a name. Interesting post. I followed the link and saw the photo Scott took on his Antarctic expedition – I can’t believe they actually brought a gramophone.

  4. I’m always learning with blog friends, it’s wonderful!Thanks so much for this interesting post, as I love music and this subject also reminds me my father, we used to talk about the old classics,his collection of vinyl and so on.
    BTW,This dog is cute, isn’t he? 🙂
    Léia

  5. I remember HMV here and those lovely records they sold 🙂 Only today I learnt the story of Nipper and the History behind the company. I remember buying records at the HMV shop (Carpenters,Beatles, ABBA) in the 70’s – 80’s. Later when record players were outdated we painted on them and used them as wall hangings 🙂

  6. That must cheer you up on the way to work. Its an iconic trademark, how many others have lasted that long in memory, must be the cute dog:-)

  7. Oh this is so interesting since I remember seeing that loco for so many years when I was younger. Thanks for the details behind it.

  8. It was a piece of inspired advertising. (But, if the dog was already dead, was it stuffed?)

  9. Thank you for a great bit of memory, Roger. We had a gramaphone in the basement – the wind up kind, and the Nipper was around on the few records we had, listening to His Master’s Voice.

  10. I knew the story about Nipper, except the bit about Albany. I always thought this to be one of the more detailed and interesting of the music logos.

  11. Very interesting, I didn’t know this story or rather history at all, but I remember that I have seen this logo already as a child and found it so funny.

  12. Oh, I remember ‘His Master’s Voice’! And the no doubt redoubtable Nipper, who looks like a terrier to me – not a big (or kitschy) dog at all. I used to think of him as JRT, but on reflection, maybe a Fox Terrier cross?

    I love the Nipper on the building. Next time I’m in NYC, I’ll have to go and look for it!

  13. Hah, I recognized the photo of the dog with the phonograph immediately, but for the life of me could not place it… ah, my mother’s records… fuzzy brain. Super post, Roger.

  14. Interesting bit of history Roger. I love the original painting – I actually thought it was on old photograph.
    I bet all the children in Albany love seeing that 4 ton Nipper looking over them as they pass by!
    I wonder how much the one in Long Island weighs?
    Thanks for the link Rog!

  15. Loved your post for Vday! It’s very interesting to learn about a famous logo!
    Thanks for sharing, Roger;o)

    ***
    Have a Vabulous day****

  16. That is a way-cool post. Makes me wish I had explored Albany more when I lived in Great Barrington, but we only visited a handful of times, one of which was to the civic center to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

    Very interesting and fun connections you’ve made about Nipper. I had no idea that iconic dog had a name.

  17. Pingback: Nippertown!

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