Not everyone would be able to name him, but Nipper the dog is one of the most widely recognised advertising images worldwide. With various tweaks to his image over the years, Nipper has been used in advertising since 1900 to endorse companies such as His Master’s Voice (HMV), JVC and RCA.
Nipper was born in Bristol in 1884 where he lived with his owner Mark Barraud. When Mark died in 1887, his brothers continued to care for Nipper and one of them, Francis, painted a picture of Nipper listening to a phonograph.
The picture was painted posthumously and so Nipper himself did not experience fame, although he did move from Bristol to live with Francis and is buried in Kingston on Thames in South West London. At the time of his burial, Kingston on Thames was a small park, but now there is a bank on the site and a plaque inside to commemorate little Nipper.
When living with Mark, Nipper’s home was the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol and there is a small statue nearby as a reminder. However, it’s not only in Bristol that Nipper has memorials. There are many in the United States of America, including one weighing four tons at the former RCA building in Albany, New York.
There is some doubt as to what breed Nipper was. Although it seems reasonable to assume from the Nipper phonograph painting by Francis that he was a Jack Russell. But because the painting is a copy of the original, which is taken from a photograph (created when he was living with Mark in Bristol), we cannot be sure.