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The Voice Heard Round the World

The Origin of the "His Master's Voice" Logo


When Francis Barraud finished the portrait of his dog listening to an Edison Phonograph, the English painter had no idea how powerful the image would prove to be. Nipper, the terrier in the painting, would soon become one of the most recognizable faces in the world. When Barraud brought his work to the offices of the Gramophone Company, Ltd. In 1899, manager William Barry Owen had perhaps his greatest moment with the company.

Owen saw great potential in the image, and he agreed to pay Barraud 50 pounds for the painting, and another 50 for the copyright, provided the Edison phonograph from the original painting was replaced with a Berliner Gramophone. Barraud agreed, and on September 15, 1899, the deal was made. The Gramophone Company began using the image the next year.

Emile Berliner, Owen's American partner, registered the trademark in the United States in 1900, and Eldridge Johnson acquired the rights when he merged interests with Berliner in 1901 to form the Victor company.

What began as an experiment in marketing would beget one of the greatest brand strategies in business history. Nipper's face would appear on millions of talking machines and advertisements throughout the world. More than a century later, the logo still adorns the "Nipper Tower" in Camden, New Jersey, is still in use by several companies around the world, including RCA, HMV, and JVC (the Japanese Victor Company), and symbolizes quality and tradition to millions of consumers worldwide.

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