With profits plunging 25 percent this year and the proposed closure of 40 retail outlets, the future looks bleak for music group HMV.
Yet the company’s mascot – who in 2000 earned himself a place in the Top 10 Famous Brands of the Century – is sure to be held in affection for many years to come.
Nipper – so named because of his tendency to snap at people’s ankles – became an advertising icon way back in 1898, after Francis Barraud painted a picture based on a photograph of the Jack Russell listening to an Edison-Bell phonograph.
In the painting, Francis substituted one of those trendy new disc gramophones for the outmoded phonograph and punted it around various manufacturers after the boss at Edison-Bell sent the artist away with a flea in his ear, telling him: “dogs don’t listen to gramophones.”
The painting subsequently became the trademark of His Master’s Voice Records and associated brands including RCA, Victor, EMI and JVC.
Nipper lives on in a number of iconic artworks. A four-ton Nipper can be found on the rooftop of the RTA building on Broadway, and a stained glass window of the pup can be found in Nipper Tower, New Jersey.
Closer to home there is a small statue and blue plaque on the wall of his Bristol home – reputedly the only blue plaque in the UK dedicated to an animal – and a piece of graffiti by the artist Banksy near the famous White Cube contemporary art gallery in London features Nipper pointing a rocket launcher at the gramophone.
And there’s a chance to snap up a resin model of Nipper at Moore Allen & Innocent’s general antique sale on Friday, March 18.
While carrying an estimate of just £20 to £30, it might make an attractive bidding prospect for anyone who fondly remembers spending Saturday afternoons thumbing through racks of vinyl, or CDs, before the advent of the MP3 turned music collecting into a desk-bound pursuit.
The auction house is also selling a large number of 78s over several lots, and perhaps not surprisingly many feature Nipper on the label. Perhaps the best is a leather-bound collection of HMV disks featuring artists including Gracie Fields, Ambrose and His Orchestra and Pryor’s Band.
A bid of £10 to £20 should secure this particular lot, although the successful bidder will, of course, need a gramophone on which to play them.
Youngsters who didn’t spend Saturday afternoons in record stores may instead have spent them in front of the TV, watching racing cars go round and round a track. And the auctioneers have uncovered an interesting collection of memorabilia from the glamorous world of Formula One.
The collection includes signed photographs and postcards by two-time world champion Graham Hill, who ruled the track in the 1960s, his son Damon, who won the world title in 1996, and Nigel Mansell, who lifted the championship trophy in 1992.
There are also signed photos from the Swiss driver Marc Surer, who competed from 1979 to 1986, Jochen Mass, the Bavarian who raced from 1973 to 1982, and the Italian Michele Alboreto, who competed in Formula One from 1981 to 1994 and won Le Mans in 1997 before meeting his death testing an Audi R8 racing car at Dresden in April 2001.
The autographs and messages will be sold with sundry lots including calendars, posters, racing team paperwork and itineraries. The lot carries an estimate of £100 to £150.
And for people who prefer a far more relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon – like enjoying the garden – there is a good selection of modern reconstituted stone ornaments in the antique style on which to bid.
Following the sale of two urns from Estcourt House, near Tetbury, for £2,900 at the Selected Antiques Sale earlier this month, a contemporary pair carries a more manageable estimate of £200 to £300.
A pair of large lions should make between £50 to £80 while their smaller cousins could be snapped up for £20 to £30. An art deco-style dancer carries an estimate of £20 to £30, and a bust of the goddess Juno and a pair of wall brackets in the form of a mermaid and merman should make around the same.
Meanwhile, an ornament based on the neoclassical masterpiece The Three Graces by Antonio Canova should make in the region of £50 to £80.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk/furniturefinearts