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Old 02-04-2019, 10:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My RCA Nipper “His Master’s Voice” Project - What Do You Think?



I’m starting a fun new project tomorrow and would love to get the community’s input if you’d be so kind.

I’ve always had a love for the “His Master’s Voice” Nipper painting and RCA logo. My late father had a tiny shadowbox ceramic dog paired with a Hallmark antique copper gramophone which I’ve kept front and center at my music workstation for all the years since his passing.



The other day I got curious and started looking around at full sized 1:1 scale antique Nipper statues. They were produced between 1911 and the early 1930s and I found one I absolutely fell in love with for sale online.



This guy stands 14.5” high. Of course,e he’d need a gramophone, so I took all the seller images, superimposed rulers scaled based upon the single known dimension (his height) and derived the width and depth so I could find a gramophone of comparable scale.

There are a number of replicas out there, which I’ve narrowed down to two options. The first is this antique non-functional but affordable replica of a 1911 HMV Gramophone Monarch Model V. (HMV stands for “His Master’s Voice”) and the piece bears the original RCA logo. Best of all the dimensions look like they’ll be just perfect for Nipper to listen intently to the cone.



The other model is a bit of a risk. I don’t like the style as much, but it is far, far more accurate to the Victor Talking Machine portrayed in the original painting and logo. It is available from two sellers on eBay in India, and there is no information anywhere as they are not official products. This model is 18" high, which shouldn't be too tall for Nipper to still listen.



Researching them I found several articles published warning potential buyers about these Indian “Crap-O-Phones” which are evidently frankensteined together from various vintage and reproduction parts and bearing a fake RCA logo inferior to the real stamped and serialed labels. But what I’m bearing in mind is that this is not intended to be a functional player - it is purely a display piece for my museum-like home, so this may be a non-issue. Still, at more than twice the price of the Monarch, it’s enough to make me hesitant.

I’ve also picked out a table I found on Craigslist, again working out ideal dimensions for the display, and plan to stage him centered in front of a large window dressed with a theater curtain and tasseled tiebacks with a regal fringed drapery to dress the scene up nice. The full display and table will occupy a 48”wide x 24” deep x 45” high scene which should look really fun in my home.

So what do you think? Take the risk on the Indian hackjob to stay truer to the original painting? Or go with the more handsome 1911 replica and save some cash?

I should note that the actual original painting featured Nipper listening to an Edison cylinder phonograph and not a Victor gramophone, but was later modified at Victor's request, so perhaps that grants me a little leeway…

I’m just awaiting an auto repair quote tomorrow so I can be sensible before I make these purchases, but if all goes well I’d like to buy Tuesday afternoon. I’d love to hear what you think, and I promise to publish the finished setup once everything has arrived safely. Thanks, everyone!

Supplemental note: Yes. Yes I know I am insane.
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Old 02-06-2019, 07:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If I was going to do it, I'd be tempted to build my own replica to match the original in the painting. If it doesn't need to actually work, I wouldn't need many parts to put it together and I could probably find some inexpensive replica parts or get creative and use parts unrelated to a gramophone that would resemble the actual parts closely enough for the intended purpose. The box would be easy to make with a little imagination and without any specialized tools.
If I didn't have the tools, time, or inclination for a DIY project, I'd go with your first option. You said you prefer the look of it to the other one and it will cost less. It will look just as good (or better) and you'll save some money on the display.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psy-Fi View Post
If I was going to do it, I'd be tempted to build my own replica to match the original in the painting. If it doesn't need to actually work, I wouldn't need many parts to put it together and I could probably find some inexpensive replica parts or get creative and use parts unrelated to a gramophone that would resemble the actual parts closely enough for the intended purpose. The box would be easy to make with a little imagination and without any specialized tools.
If I didn't have the tools, time, or inclination for a DIY project, I'd go with your first option. You said you prefer the look of it to the other one and it will cost less. It will look just as good (or better) and you'll save some money on the display.
Thanks for your input, Psy-Fi. That's a great idea. Perhaps I'll take on the DYI project in the future if I feel so inspired.

I posed the same question in another community and received some really valuabale responses, which I'll share below just in case anyone is curious.

Quote:
Since you are not looking for functionality, but rather for the intended effect visually (and emotionally) - go with what pleases you, not what someone else will see/think/say about the "originality".
(to which I responded)

You make an excellent point. I tried to tell myself the same earlier this afternoon when I first discovered the second option, but I am a cultural custodian and a music history aficionado which made the historical accuracy feel somewhat important. I am leaning toward the Monarch, but was curious what the community thought.

Another friend said -

Quote:
Aesthetically, i like the one in the first pic the best. it's more reminiscent of your father's set-up, which if my dad had something like that I'd be inclined to copy that, rather than the original photo. i also like the shape of the horn better. it seems more elegant.

I'm wary of buying products directly from overseas. IME, the quality is lacking and there isn't much of a recourse if the products are not to spec.
(to which I said)

You're absolutely right. The Monarch model is an official reproduction sold by a number of distributors including Amazon, Overstock, and even Sears and has reviews from satisfied customers. That gives me far greater confidence than purchasing a documented forgery from Delhi (of which the eBay seller claims he has 10 of them in stock.)

I really like your thought about how the Monarch is a closer match to my father's Hallmark shadowbox gramophone; (it's actually a pencil sharpener!). His memory is a significant part of this project's inspiration, so your statement makes a lot of sense.

And a young woman suggested:

Quote:
Pick the stuff that fits right to you.

Also, you can keep waiting and checking for new postings of pieces you feel would fit your project. You don't have to buy now.
(to which I replied)

Very true. It did cross my mind that if years from now, I found myself in such a position, I could potentially invest ~$1500 in an actual vintage Victor Talking Machine. I've found an original cylinder player at my local antique mall for only $300, and I own several Edison cylinders, but I've never been able to justify the purchase. (Yet.)

...

In the end I ended up springing for the Monarch model. Hopefully, everything arrives safely by the end of next week and I'll share photos of the result. Thanks again!
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Old 02-12-2019, 05:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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UPDATE: The project is complete! Head over to my member journal for a look at the final result!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chula Vista View Post
You are quite simply one of the most unique individuals I've ever met in my 680+ months living on this orb.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You are to all of us what Betelgeuse is to the sun in terms of musical diversity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exo_ View Post
I wish I had enough room to sig this entire post. You sir are a true character. I love it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
You, sir, are a nerd's nerd.
The Innerspace Connection | Essential Recordings Guide | Top Archives | Hot 100 Album Gallery |Favorite LPs on Discogs | Top 550 Artists Video

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