Nipper, the RCA Dog Statue
A monumental statue of RCA's mascot now sits atop a historical society roof after a life of moving around.
The popular image of “Nipper the Dog,” tilting his head while listening to a phonograph, was used to promote the RCA company for years, the image known popularly by the title, “His Master’s Voice.”
According to RCA, the real Nipper was born in Bristol, England in 1884 and “was so named because of his tendency to nip the backs of visitors’ legs.” The dog was painted into an ad by the original owner’s brother, Francis Barraud, who noted how the dog would stare at the gramophone whenever a record was played.
A large statue of Nipper can be seen on the top of the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood in the 600 block of Park Avenue. Alongside Nipper, the Society contains the original manuscript of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “papers of Maryland’s colonial governors and signers of the Declaration of Independence.”
The Nipper statue originally came from D&H Distributing company, located on Russell Street, in Baltimore, Maryland. The statue is 18-feet-tall, made by the Triangle Sign company, and was originally installed on the RCA building in the 1950s. When the RCA company discontinued use of the icon, collector Jim Wells (who helped bring the carousel to the National Mall) purchased the statue and placed it in the front yard of his home at 8731 Lee Highway in Merrifield, Virginia. He bought the statue for the meager price of $1. A townhouse development has been built over his house’s property with a street lovingly called Nipper Way in tribute to the dog who also resided there for nearly 20 years. Nipper was then sold to the Baltimore City Life Museum for $25,000 for a brief period, before moving to its current home atop the Maryland Historical Society’s building.
There are other “Nippers” dotting the landscape such as at the old RCA building in Albany, New York, and above the door of the Merchant Venturers Building in Bristol, England. A stained-glass window with an image of Nipper can also be found in The Victor condo building in Camden, New Jersey—which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original painting of the beloved terrier is on the wall of EMI Music’s Gloucester Place headquarters, and many promotional items featuring the Dog & Trumpet still exist—although the Baltimore Nipper may be the most well traveled.
Know Before You Go
The statue is located on the side of the MHS facing Park Avenue, at number 600.
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