Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Dog Who Listened In Vain

One of the most famous logos, and perhaps the longest-lasting, is that of the RCA Victor Company. It’s their dog, Nipper, listening to a Victrola and it’s known as “His Master’s Voice.”

Nipper, a real dog, received his name from a nasty little habit he had of nipping at peoples’ ankles. Not a nice way of expressing your gratitude after you were found as a stray and taken in by caring people, in this case, theater stage set painter Mark Barraud. And especially not when your master passes on and his brother Francis, an artist, takes you in.

Now the stories get a big tangled. After Mark’s passing, Francis painted the famous picture, which he called, “Dog Looking At and Listening to a Phonograph.”

The emotional tale says the dog wasn’t listening to his master’s voice, but His Master’s Brother’s Voice, now stilled in death. It’s been said that if you look at the original paining closely, the version where the machine is much more primitive, you will notice that Nipper and the machine are sitting on what appears to be the lid of a coffin.

Other, less heart-wrenching, people say this business of Nipper listening to a recording of his dead master’s voice, while sitting on his coffin, is nothing more than a false rumor.

The Edison Bell Company, leading cylinder manufacturer, turned down the painting as a logo. “Dogs don’t listen to phonographs,” some company dimwit said.


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