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Paper Mache Nipper Restoration

Paper Mache Nipper Restoration by Joan Rolfs

Old paper mache models of the most famous dog in the world (RCA Victor's HMV Nipper) are lovingly brought back to life.

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Paper Mache Nipper Restoration


Greetings paper mache artists. Paper mache is such a great artistic medium. It can be shaped into creative designs and art pieces. In the past, paper mache was used to manufacture many advertising, holiday and toy items. Today these paper mache items are highly sought after by collectors.

Jackie contacted me when she purchased an original 11" paper mache Nipper dog. He arrived at Jackie’s doorstep in a very dirty state - and he reeked of tobacco! She adopted him, cleaned him up and will give him a good home with her other paper mache items.

Joan Rolfs and Nipper
Joan Rolfs and Nipper

Nipper, who was immortalized as one of the world’s most famous advertising logos, was born 1884 in Bristol, England. Nipper was a bull terrier. Well, not a full-blooded bull terrier. In America, we would probably call Nipper somewhat of a mutt. It should be noted that he seemed to have inherited the characteristic of this breed. He was named “Nipper” because he had a tendency to nip the back of people’s legs. Nipper was a fighter and never backed down from a fight with another dog. Francis Barraud painted Nipper looking into a Gramophone. On October 4th, 1899 the Gramophone Co. purchased the painting and Francis received 100 pounds for the painting and copyrights. The slogan “His Master’s Voice” went along with the deal. That painting has become one of the world’s most valuable trademarks and made Nipper the most famous copied dog in the world.


'His Master's Voice' Painting
'His Master's Voice' Painting


One of my favorite Nipper stories is the “camel story”. The animal Nipper loved to hate was a large toy camel upon which children were often placed when they came to have their pictures taken. Someone often pushed the camel towards Nipper and teased him. Nipper, biding his time, one day took matters into his own hands, rather paws, and ripped the toy to shreds. He was found sitting, unconcerned, surrounded by fragments. He wasn’t even repentant!

Nipper died in 1895 at the age of 11. Nipper had a stroke that paralyzed his hindquarters. He was buried under a mulberry tree at No. 77 Clarence Street (formerly John Durham’s garden), London, England.



Nipper lives on and his image can be seen with many of the greatest musical artists of the decades. He has posed with famous opera stars as well as countless popular artists including the Beatles, Elvis, and all the celebrated musical artists of the RCA Victor and EMI record companies. He is the embodiment of a musical and consumer entertainment industry of yesterday and today. Now that you have some insight into the history of Nipper I will share information on paper mache restoration of vintage paper mache Nippers, phonograph horns and holiday collectables.

My husband and I are collectors and dealers in vintage phonographs and related items. Wherever you see a phonograph you think of the little dog listening to the gramophone. At an auction I purchased our first Nipper. It was a rare 19 inch paper mache glass eyed Nipper. I paid a great deal for him and he was in poor condition. After bringing him home, I knew he needed restoration. I thought back to my college days and an art class entitled Principles of Design. In this class I designed paper mache puppets as one of our art projects. If I could create paper mache puppets, why not restore my Nipper. That started my paper mache restoration career. Since my restoration of that first Nipper I have had the opportunity to bring over 100 Nippers back to life. I restore Nippers of all sizes for collectors worldwide. The large 36 and 42 inch Nippers are very time consuming and are my least favorite to restore.

Paper Mache Nippers from Joan Rolf's Collection
Paper Mache Nippers from Joan Rolf's Collection

Restoration is much more than just "fixing" a broken part or re-painting a badly damaged Nipper. It is the art of restoring the damaged object to a condition that:

• Renders the object functionally useful as the maker intended it to be.
• Retains the maximum amount of original material so as not to compromise historical significance.
• Does not in any way alter the original form, function or character of the object as originally manufactured.
• Is done in a manner that retains the age, character, look and feel of the object appropriate to a present day historical artifact


The Old King Cole Company
The Old King Cole Company


I have a large collection of paper mache Nippers. Many of the Nippers were made in Canton, Ohio USA by the Old King Cole Company. They manufactured all types of paper mache advertising items. This company produced the first Nippers as early as 1915. Stensgaard, of Chicago Illinois USA was a later maker of Nippers. The Stensgaard Nippers are not true paper mache, but rather a compressed fiber/resin compound.