Wednesday, 16 January 2013

HMV's Nipper - a small dog with a huge impact

Ninety-two years after its first store appeared, HMV, Britain's last major music and entertainment chain, has gone into administration.

Alan remembers: "Music and HMV has always been a big part of my life, and I can remember going into the shop as a spotty long haired youth with great anticipation looking at all the huge choice of albums or LP's as they used to be called. My mates all dressed exactly the same with army greatcoats, denims patched with leather and long hair obliterating their faces, head down nodding to some underground anthem blasting over the speakers from Uriah Heep or some other hero band.

I desperately wanted to know if  the new Black Sabbath album had come out yet, or if my mates had heard the latest one from Blodwyn Pig. The rows and rows of LP's were like magical stories conjuring up all kinds of wonderous expectations, and of course being in Art College we all took huge delight in deliberating about the best Album cover design. These were indeed very happy times and HMV used to become a meeting place for us all to share in our great love of music and design."

So we read them closing down with great sadness and as a tribute we wanted to take you through their logo timeline.

The iconic logo with the dog named "Nipper" (he had the unpleasant habit of biting the backs of visitors' legs) has a long and very interesting history.

In 1898, three years after Nipper's death, Francis Barraud, his last owner, painted a picture of Nipper listening to an Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. He applied for copyright of his painting "Dog Looking At and Listening to a Phonograph" and presented it to the Edison-Bell Company hoping to sell the painting to them but was turned down.

Original painting with the Edison-Bell phonograph.
Finally, after replacing the black phonograph with a bright brass-belled horn, Francis Barraud managed to sell his painting along with the slogan "His Master's Voice" to The Gramophone company and the trademark itself was registered by Berliner on July 10, 1900. This modified form of the painting became the successful trademark of Victor and HMV records, HMV music stores, and RCA.

"His Master's Voice"
Use of Nipper on a Victor label

An early Gramophone Co record label showing the logo.
Copyright Weswilliams13
The ‘striking illuminated electric motion sign’ erected
at the front of the 363 Oxford Street store in December 1921
The HMV (short for "His Master's Voice") logo has seen a couple of evolvements and variations throughout the years. Sometimes to promote special releases or according to the seasons.
The HMV logo
In  2007 Gromit stood in for Nipper during a three month advertising campaign.

In 2010 Nipper is 'revamped' into a wolf for the DVD launch of the Twilight Saga: New Moon.

The 2012 Christmas TV campaign stars Nipper the dog and his best friend Gramophone.
 [via wikwikipedia and HMV group. Images courtesy of wikimedia and HMV group]

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