Biographies | Nipper
The real Nipper was born in Bristol, England in 1884. He was given the name Nipper by his owner Mark Henry Barraud because he liked to nip at the backs of visitors’ legs. Francis Barraud, Mark’s brother, painted a picture of Nipper called “His Master’s Voice” after he noticed how the dog would stare at the gramophone whenever a record was played. Nipper died of natural causes in 1895 and was buried in Kingston upon the Thames at Clarence Street in a small park. Over time, the area was developed and a branch of Lloyds Bank was built on the location. A small plaque is located inside the entrance of the bank indicating that Nipper rests beneath the building.
Over the years the image of Nipper in Barraud’s painting has been adopted as a trademark for many gramophone and recording brands such as HMV, EMI, RCA, Victor Talking Machine Company, and more.
The American founder of the Gramophone Company in England offered to purchase the painting if Barraud altered it to show one of their disc machines. Barraud agreed and the image of Nipper first appeared in 1899 in the company’s catalogue.
In the early 1900’s the paper mache dog named Nipper was in the window of George Hawley’s Hardware Store on East Main Street in the Village of Webster. He resided there for many years promoting the RCA products sold at the store. After Mr. Hawley’s death in 1966, Nipper found a new home at the Bay Road Elementary School. First residing in the Music room and then moving to the hallway, he greeted students and visitors as they came to school. Nipper would tilt his head and listen to the youngsters as they shared their thoughts, worries and good news. Nipper was an excellent listener and good friend to all at Bay Road Elementary School.
Sadly, one night in September 1974, vandals broke into the school and destroyed Nipper. His head was cut off and tossed up on the roof. The body was cut in three pieces and thrown about. Nipper’s eyes were removed and disposed of. The vandals left without disturbing anything else in the school. It was a very emotional time for the school. Inquires went out to RCA asking if another Nipper might be purchased to replace their beloved friend. However, the school was not able to find a replacement for Nipper. A TV story brought the sad news to the public and it was then that three volunteers came forward to attempt the difficult task of repairing Nipper to his former self. Roberta Kappel, an Art teacher, former Bay Road student and Webster resident, was chosen for the task. After many long hours, Mrs Kappel was able to successfully restore Nipper and he was happily returned to Bay Road Elementary School once again to greet the students, their parents and the West Webster Senior Citizens Club who often had lunch at the school. The West Webster Senior Citizens Club was so moved by the restoration of Nipper that they sent a letter to Lloyd VanHoover, Principal of the school.
The letter proclaimed their delight at his return and they enclosed a check to cover Nipper’s “medical expenses”. In 1983 Bay Road Elementary School closed and Nipper once again moved to a new home, the Webster Museum located at the Town Hall. He remained there for the next three years. In 1986, one final move was in store for Nipper when the Webster Museum opened its doors in a new location at 18 Lapham Park. Nipper now sits by the front door of the Webster Museum and greets visitors, just around the corner from his first home at Hawley’s Hardware Store.
- Batzing, Dick and Naujokas, Jan, “Memories of the Beginning of the Webster Museum” April 2010, p 4.
- Wikipedia Nipper, accessed June, 2020.
- Wikipedia His Master’s Voice, accessed June 2020.
- Burgess, Lee, “Nipper is No More”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 18, 1974 p 1.
- “Old Nipper” Back at School Post”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY November 6, 1974, p. 1.
- Rice, Joyce, “Personable Pup Restored” Webster Herald, Webster, NY, November 27, 1974, p 3.