Our famous RCA dogs
In 1899, Francis Barraud, painted a picture of his brother’s dog, “Nipper”, listening intently to a windup Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. The trademark was registered by Berliner Gramophone for use in the United States on July 10, 1900. In 1929, “His Master’s Voice” trademark was acquired by the Radio Corporation of America. It was the first appearance of a RCA dog “mascot”.
The iconic image of the RCA dog “Nipper” became part of the long heritage of the RCA brand and an international symbol of quality and excellence. In 1990, a puppy dog named “Chipper” was added to the RCA dog family. “Nipper” and his companion “Chipper” became the famous “RCA dogs”.
The iconic “RCA dogs” image of “Nipper” and “Chipper” symbolizes the long heritage and the warm, youthful energy that is unique to RCA. Listed as one of the Top 10 of Famous Brands of the 20th Century.
His Master Voice
The RCA dog “Nipper” (1884-1895) belonged to Mark Barraud, decorator for a London theater. The dog was born in Bristol, England. Commonly identified as a fox terrier, the RCA dog “Nipper” was probably actually a terrier mix. He may have had plenty of bull terrier in him, even some think he was a Jack Russell Terrier. The name “Nipper” came about because of a trait of his puppyhood: his tendency to greet strangers by biting their legs, but that might be fanciful. In 1887, when Mark Barraud died unexpectedly, his brother Francis Barraud (1856-1924), a painter, took “Nipper” home with him to Liverpool. The first painting depicting the RCA dog “Nipper” was called "Dog Watching and Listening to a Phonograph" and showed a dog looking inside a cylinder phonograph pavilion.
A commercial ad
Thinking commercially and noting that the “Nipper” dog was listening to an Edison Bell cylinder, Barraud wrote to the Edison Bell Company in New Jersey for them to use the painting in their advertisements. But the representatives of the company failed to see how it could help sales and turned down his offer, because they believed that dogs don't listen to phonographs, as was their logical if unimaginative conclusion. Friends liked the painting and suggested to Barraud that he might make it more appealing by substituting a gold horn to replace the black Edison horn. Barraud liked the idea but needed a gold horn from which to model the new version of the painting, so he visited Barry Owen, the manager of Liverpool’s newly formed Gramophone Company, who understood the commercial possibilities. He offered to buy the painting and the rights to it if Barraud would make it a record gramophone instead of a cylinder phonograph, which Barraud did. A deal was made for both the painting and the copyright, and in October 1899 the deal was sealed when Barraud delivered the painting.