The Birth of "His Master's Voice" - Part 2
by Bill Pratt
The popularity of the
became assured just as soon as it was parodied.
Many a time it was used in politics,
designs with variations were elaborated by cartoonists.
One of the best known of the caricatures is
entitled 'His Master's Breath', in which the
Gramophone is replaced by a whisky bottle with a funnel sticking out in a slanting position and a
measly little terrier
pup sniffing it.
The first use of the dog
Eldridge Johnson in
1901 on his U.S.
By 1902, after the formation of
the Victor Talking
Co. late the previous year, it
was reported that the, country was
'beginning to go wild
over the dog picture.'
on British record
labels for the first time in 1909,
replacing the earlier,
'Angel' mark, and by late
appearing on all the
It is widely considered
now that the dog and gramophone
probably the most
trademark in advertising history.
Throughout this amazing growth of recognition
and popularity of Barraud's design,
the artist was not forgotten
by the Victor
1913 and 1923 Francis
Barraud is known to have been commissioned to paint 24
replicas of his original painting.
These were given to
Directors and special clients of the Victor
of these paintings
Barraud made as a gift to the Company
and is known as the 'Chinese Copy'.
This particular painting is an exact copy of the original,
painted in the phonograph and then overpainted it with the
Barraud estimated that it would take him about three
weeks to paint each
there is a well-known photograph of the artist working
on one painting while another
on the floor beside his easel and so he was probably able to
each one more quickly
on several simultaneously.
Barraud himself also
produced several posters using a caricature of Nipper as the
principal subject, notably
a Dreadnought poster in 1914 for the Royal Navy and a pair advertising Reid's Stout.
In 1919, Victor
an annuity of £250,
later raised to £350,
came across this unusual variation
The caption to the illustration (in The Tin
Book) is puzzling.
'This is an especially old
made as early as 1870!"
Since the dog Nipper wasn't born until the
mid 1880's and the 'His Master's Voice'
painting was not completed until the mid to
late 1890's, surely the tin can collector is
being a trifle optimistic in his dating?
he is correct,
and if the design can be proved
to be as early as 1870,
we deduce that
'borrowed' the idea as the
The evidence is tantalizing.