I've shown you before the set of His Master's Voice salt and pepper shakers that I keep under a glass dome in my dining room. They have a special place in my heart because my grandfather designed them for the RCA Victor company. They were given away as premiums to RCA Victor customers.
Nipper, the RCA Victor mascot, is still one of the most recognised logos worldwide. I wonder if Francis Barraud had any idea that his painting of the little dog that had belonged to his brother and then came to him on his brother's death, would make Nipper one of the best beloved dogs of all time? He did the painting in 1898, three years after the dog had passed away. Nipper used to sit by the gramophone, head cocked to one side, listening to the sounds that came from the horn. The painting was eventually sold to RCA Victor to use as a logo and the rest is history.
The salt and pepper shakers are very collectible and worth watching for at yard sales and thrift shops. But, you have to beware of copies. They have been reproduced many times, sometimes under licence for RCA Victor and sometimes as knockoffs to trap unsuspecting collectors.
Let's take a look at the original ones that my grandfather, Jesse William Wyatt, modelled. By original, I mean the very first set that came off the production line! The glaze isn't perfected on these and were from a test run. ~
The ears are black. The black collar denotes pepper and the brown is salt. I see that order reversed by experts from time to time, but I can tell you for certain that my grandfather marked them as such.
When you see brown ears, you know they are not original. These ones were made in Korea. ~
Each time they take a mold off a set of dogs, instead of from the original model, some detail is lost. My grandfather studied anatomy and was a stickler for showing skeletal and muscular structure as well as it could be shown in a mass produced piece of ceramics.
Later, licenced sets are collectible but aren't very well made. You can see how much the design has degenerated in these copies from the 1950's. ~
The quickest way to determine if a set is original is to look for detail on the chest and shoulders of the dog. ~
I'm afraid you won't ever find a set like these ones. My dad left them to my sister when he passed away. My grandfather took three trial sets off the line and inscribed the names of his three sons on them, along with the date of 1938, where it would normally say RCA Victor.
This set belonged to my dad. ~
I'm pretty sure my sister would notice if I switch my set for her signed set. Instead, I'll return them to her and thank her for letting me share this bit of collectible history.
Happy hunting music memorabilia collectors!
I'm sharing this with - What's It Wednesday, Cottage Style Party, From Dream To Reality, Tuesdays With A Twist
ps ~ My cousin has just told me there were four sets of signed shakers. My grandfather did the fourth for himself. All four sets are still in the hands of family members.