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The mechanism of the gramophone is placed in a box made of oak wood in a natural colour. The casing is modestly decorated with simple mills, the front wall bears a metal brass secession plate depicting the muse, Erato.

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The mechanism of the gramophone is placed in a box made of oak wood in a natural colour. The casing is modestly decorated with simple mills, the front wall bears a metal brass secession plate depicting the muse, Erato. A metal support of a pickup arm and the tube of a gramophone which is attached to the back wall is decorated with a convex pattern of meandering lines. The surface of the metal tube, covered by green lacquer, is decorated with radial hollows coming from the middle towards the outside edge. The spring drive is started with a knob. Next to the turntable, there is a mechanism that brakes turns and a speed indicator with a range from 70 to 100 rotations per minute.
There is a shellac record from 1904 on the turntable of the presented gramophone. One side of the recording contains Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s composition entitled Mattinata, performed by Enrico Caruso.
There are two trademarks of the Gramophone Co. placed on the record. The reverse bears a figure of an angel writing with a quill on a gramophone record; the obverse depicts an image of a little fox terrier absorbed with the voice of its master coming from a tube of the gramophone – that is the best recognisable logo of the company, His Master’s Voice.
The history of the Gramophone Co.’s logo is very interesting: one day in 1899 history knocked at the office of the Gramophone Co. in London. It was embodied by a bearded man who addressed a request to William Barry Owen and wanted to borrow a gramophone tube. As he explained, several years earlier he had painted a picture depicting his fox terrier dog called Nipper listening to the sounds coming from a tube of an Edison phonograph. The painter called his work His Master's Voice. Nobody was interested in his picture at that time. Francis Barraud — that was the name of the unknown painter – decided to light up dark colours of the picture a little by changing the black lacquered tube of a phonograph into a shining metal gramophone tube. A head of the Gramophone Co. borrowed the gramophone tube and expressed his desire to see the repainted picture. “After several days, Barraud appeared again and Owen expressed his willingness to purchase the picture after one more, very important correction – changing the phonograph into a gramophone. The satisfied painter repainted his work and Owen placed it on the wall of his office. It is still there, in Hayes in Middlesex County” [self-translation after Mieczysław Kominek, Zaczęło się od fonografu…<It started with a phonograph…>].

Elaborated by the Museum in Niepołomice – Royal Castle in Niepołomice, © all rights reserved

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The fox terrier Nipper is still alive

Museum exhibitions and depots are not only treasuries of works of art but also places where objects, whose usefulness has recently come to an end, are given a second chance to live. Thanks to a museum, we can learn about the function and history of such objects — from the moment of their creation, through the period of their heyday, until the end of their useful lives. But is it really necessary to restore objects to life and does some part of them endure? History suggests: “non omnis moriar” [I shall not wholly die].

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Museum exhibitions and depots are not only treasuries of works of art but also places where objects, whose usefulness has recently come to an end, are given a second chance to live. Thanks to a museum, we can learn about the function and history of such objects — from the moment of their creation, through the period of their heyday, until the end of their useful lives. But is it really necessary to restore objects to life and does some part of them endure? History suggests: “non omnis moriar” [I shall not wholly die].
An example of this is the logo of the company His Master's Voice (HMV). You can read about its incorporation here. This iconic image, once universally recognizable, has been repeatedly processed in popular culture. Currently, although we usually do not remember its history, it still provides inspiration to artists. The evidence for this are the quotes appearing in the media in the form of the popular fox terrier Nipper, or other animals listening to the turntable tube, as we can see in the examples below:


Elaborated by Editorial team of Malopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also a tube gramophone.

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Tube gramophone

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