They began collecting phonographs and when Joan saw her first papier-mâché Nipper at an auction, she knew it had to be adopted for their home. It was a road kill Nipper badly in need of restoration. Joan has artistic skills and had taken art classes in high school and college. She brought the Nipper back to life and has been restoring and caring for Nippers ever since. The Nipper family grew and our knowledge broadened with each new Nipper item that came into our home.
They have written several articles on Nipper for local and state newspapers and co-authored a book with Bessie and Floyd Seiter in 2001 titled, Phonograph Dolls that Talk and Sing. They are authors of the resource books: Phonograph Dolls and Toys, Nipper Collectibles, Nipper Collectibles Volume II, and Nipper Collectibles Vol III. Research publications include: Lewis Lueder, Official Photographer to Mr. Thomas A. Edison and Edison Little Folks Furniture 1926 - 2005. Their interest in Thomas Edison and his inventions lead them to the Thomas Edison Historical National Park. In collaboration with the TENHP, they presented a research project on the Edison Talking Doll of 1890. The Rolfs' newest book titled Hearthstone: America's National Electrical Treasure, is about a museum in Appleton, Wisconsin they have worked with for thirty plus years. Recently they discovered that the1882 light fixtures are original Bergmann electroliers that were manufactured for Thomas A. Edison.
The authors have also written articles relating to the phonograph hobby for AntiqueWeek, In The Groove, For the Record, Fox Cities Magazine, The Sound Box, Yesteryear, and were editors of the Badger Talking Machine, the Wisconsin Illinois Musical Antique Phonograph Society newsletter. Their collection is also featured in the following books: Discovering Antique Phonographs 1877-1929; Antique Phonograph Gadgets, Gizmos and Gimmicks; Antique Phonograph Accessories & Contraptions; and Antique Phonograph Advertising. Joan has her BS degree in Business/Interior Design. Robin has his BS and an MS degree in Technology Education. They are owners of Audio Antique LLC, a business that specializes in phonographs, Nippers, dolls, and related antiques from the Victorian period to the 1940s. Joan enjoys collecting the Nipper trademark dogs and Robin is enthralled by the technology of phonograph mechanisms and mechanical sound reproduction. Together they make a great team to present information on the Nipper trademark, the many Nipper collectibles, and inventions of Thomas Edison. The authors can be contacted at: www.audioantique.com
Robin and Joan Rolfs in Vintage Dress with Nippers
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Robin & Joan Rolfs
Nipper has been part of our family for over thirty years. We never owned a real live Nipper dog; however, we always have a couple of pet goats. Joan's mother placed an old Victrola in her bedroom when she was two years of age. The old music from the Victrola became part of her life. Every time she lifted the lid, she saw this cute little dog looking into the gramophone. As years passed, Joan went to college and her younger brother Bruce played with the Victrola until the spring broke. When her parents were moving to a smaller home, they asked if she wanted the old Victrola. Yes, she wanted this wonderful Victrola. Her husband Robin was intrigued by the technology of the music machine. The rest is history.