Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, "His Master's Voice", The Original RCA Music Puppy Dog Logo Symbol for Advertising

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 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 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 HMV for a complete history of the brands based on Nipper.)


Stylized version of Nipper as used by HMV record stores.The slogan “His Master’s Voice” along with the painting were sold to The Gramophone Company for 100 pounds sterling. As Francis Barraud stated about this famous 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.”


This picture is in the public domain.


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Uploaded on March 14, 2009