James Dixon & Sons Whistles & History In the 19th Century. Avner Strauss

James Dixon, Dixon & Son, James Dixon & Sons Whistles, A Brief History of Whistles in a Few Parts. Avner Strauss

Under construction, kindly drop in occasionally for updates.

                                        Whistle Model # 51 by Dixon & Sons


Recently I have been digging through layers of “modern archeology”, specifically of whistles in the 19th century. Decade by decade, I have been “peeling” off the layers to reveal earlier dates. Identifying and discovering new whistles and information is a fascinating and rewarding subject for me to engage with. Discovering the first examples of dated escargots, the Bean Police, or Stevens model #27, are just a few examples. Likewise, discovering previously unknown whistle makers and bringing to light new information was a great reward for years of researching. Each discovery leads to new understandings, which, in turn, lead to an ever-increasing interest. I take great pleasure in sharing my thoughts and findings and wish to someday open a real whistle museum as well as publish my research, thus making everything even more accessible.

Dixon & Sons was one of the four large whistle makers in England up to 1880. While T. Yates and Stevens, and W. Dowler, the other three makers, were large, Dixon was, by far, larger. The family’s history and products are well documented and I can turn the attention of readers to one of few books. Here is a link to a PDF of one of them. In what follows, I shall concentrate on whistles and give a short overview of their history.

I started my research after coming across the 1st known TNT whistle stamped by Dixon (2006). I now know there are two of them. After I posted my first bit of research about Dixon on Wikipedia, someone noted that it should be erased as it is doubtful that a company by that name ever existed… Today, there are already hundreds of articles and photos, as well as many other resources. However, the subject of whistles is relatively still little-researched, and therefore I hope this text will contribute to collectors and others interested in whistles.

Here is an old post I wrote about Dixon (it includes mistakes, but since it was archived somewhere else, I cannot revise it): http://archive.is/RuZZb

The article shared here is, hitherto, the most comprehensive essay about the subject of Dixon & Sons whistles. There are, of course, many whistles I know of and did not include, as well as many that are still waiting to be discovered.

Part I 
Brief History and data (19th Century)
Part I.a. Round whistles by Dixon & Sons; the sheffield mouthpiece; catalogue excerpts; numbered models; stamps; materials and whistle types; retailers.

Part 2
More whistles by Dixon & Sons, including beauforts, extractors, combination whistles, two chamber whistles, Double end whistles, TNTW police type, Escargot- Snail Whistle, vestas, bicycle whistle, cork screw combination, carriage keys, steam alarm, speaking tube whistle, Whips with whistles and more.

As a rule, my observation is that whistles made as DOG CALLS did not use a pea. (A.S*)
A small collection of 41 whistles was given by the Dixon family in 1938 to the city of Sheffield, and was exhibited at the city hall. There are many whistles which Dixon made during the 19th century and are not among these.

You may take a CLOSE look and note that 27 are ROUND WHISTLES, and 6 more are round whistles combined with shooting gudgets.


The James Dixon & Sons Company was a family-run business for 170 years (up to 1876) and was located at Cornish Place for over 180 years (up to 1992).
James Dixon was the Founder company established 1806.
James Dixon later  Dixon & Sons were one of the major British manufacturers in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. They were well known as manufacturers of pewterware, electroplated Britannia metal, silverware, and electroplated nickel silver. Their product range included hundreds of items for domestic use in the kitchen (inc. bowls, cutting-tools), and the dining room (e.g. tea services, cocktail shakers and mixers), and items like candlesticks for general household use. They were also a world leader in manufacturing shooting accessories through the nineteenth century, and exported powder flasks in large quantities to America. While Dixon & Sons were known for their whistles, all of their products were of outstanding quality.

JAMES DIXON, founder, 27 Jan, 1776 – 17 Oct, 1852.
Few other family members involved with the company were:
William Frederick Dixon 
Henry Issac Dixon
William Fawcett
(James Son in low)
James Willis Dixon James’ son from his second marriage.
Lennox Burton Dixon.
James Willis Dixon Jr. (The founder’s grandson)
Lennox Burton Dixon, joined the company in 1889.
W. Millo Dixon, ran the company following Lennox’s death in 1941.

Above ; James Willis Dixon, 1802-1876.
Henry Issac Dixon,
the youngest of James senior’s sons, 1820 -1912.
James Willis  Dixon Jr.,
b. 1838 -1890.
This partial family tree, is taken from a book published in 1862 entitled the ‘History of the Parish of Ecclesfield in the County of York’ by Jonathan Eastwood. p. 384. The Dixon family tree (Dixon of Page Hall)

James Dixon, 42 Silver St., Sheffield
Dixon & Smith, 16 Silver St., Sheffield (1811-1822)
James Dixon & Son, Cornish Place (1822-1920)

London Office, 14 St. Andrew Street, Holborn, EC4
Several branches in Australia and the U.S.A (See advertisements)

Here you can see advertisements in: 1834, 1849, 1866, 1882, 1891, 1895 , 1899

The 1934 advertisement above reads: “JAMES DIXON & SON MANUFACTURERS

Timeline of important dates and facts:

1790-1797 – James Dixon, whose father and grandfather were metal workers in the cutlery business, does his apprenticeship and goes on to work for Richard Constantine, a successful Britannia metal manufacturer (Sydney Constantine became James Dixon & Sons Works Manager in the 1930s).

c. 1806 – Following his father’s death, James Dixon THE FOUNDER (son a metal worker also named James Dixon) starts his own business at 42 Silver St. 
1810 –  Dixon & Smith a partnership with Thomas Smith is registered at 16 Silver St. (until 1822).
“Dixon and Smith, manufacturers of Britannia metal goods and dealers in cutlery, etc. 16, Silver St. Green Lane proprietors of rolling mill”
1911 Directory.
1922 –
The company moves to Cornish Place, Sheffield. William Frederick Dixon Joins the company. Smith dissolves the partnership. William Dixon, the older son from first marriage, joins. Company moves to Cornish Place and the firm is named James Dixon & SON c. 1824
1825 – James Dixon’s son-in-law, William Fawcett, joins the company.
1828 – Trade directory shows Dixon & Son – manufacturers Britannia Metal goods, spoons, scallop shells, etc.
1929 – Dixon registered in Sheffield as a silversmith, acquired a plating business and registered his platemark in.
1834 – First large advertisement is published (see image)
1835 – A third son, Henry Isaac Dixon, the name changes to “James Dixon & Sons”. 1936
1835 James Willis Dixon Joins as a partner at the age of 21 and goes to New York where he establishes 4 agencies. His son James Willis Jr. was born in New York in 1838 and would take over the firm in 1876.
1842 – 400 workers attend a party for James the founder, James retires.
1848 – The company starts electroplating.

Page Hall was the home of Dixon, purchased in the early 1820s. In 1854, two years after his father-in-law’s, Willian Fawcett refurbishes the property.

A later view of Page Hall

1851 – Dixon participates in The Great Exhibition and the company is awarded with several prizes in different classes for Silver and Britannia Metal.
1855 – Fawcett (James son-in-law) becomes mayor of Sheffield. His own son is to take over the company 50 years later.
1861 – 35 new cartridge implements such as re-cappers, fillers, cutter scissors, closers, carriers, and cartridge hooks are made.
1865 – James Willis Dixon bought Hillsborough Hall.
1867 – A new silver hall mark is registered.
1873 – A large Catalogue is published. A plate from the 1873 Dixon & Sons catalogue.

1876 – James Willis Dixon, third generation to the founder, takes over the company after his father’s death.
1879 – The trumpet and Banner Logo is registered as trademark for Dixon & Sons.
1882 – Arms catalogue with few intricate whistle combinations (see part II for examples) Whistles first appear in a Dixon catalogue, though some of their whistles appeared in guns, rifles & sporting goods catalogues of American manufacturers and distributors in as early as 1872 for [dog calls] made of Britannia metal and sold through their agencies in New York founded after the mid. 1830s. But as you would see in the next parts whistles were made since their early days and showed up in catalogues much later. 

1883 – Another arm catalogue, page 52 is all whistles catalogue : (See part II)

1893 – Company now has 670 employees. large catalogues keep appearing.
The company continued to be a family-run enterprise until 1976
and kept producing up to 1992.

Dixon & Sons stamps used the trumpet and banner stamp ( There were few variations since 1850s as well as a variety of other stamps as seen here.
attempt to date few dozen Dixon marks:

Coming up in the next few days PART I a with many whistles and some special credits.
All rights reserved, Avner Strauss.

Stevens & Sons Round Whistles & Some Special Ones, Part C. by Avner Strauss

Stevens & Sons Whistles (Part C)

Part A 
Part B
Part D


Dating Metal Plates on Stevens Whistles by periods (4 periods) 

A Historic Whistle Discovered,
And few important dated ones. 

EARLY round whistles Pre Mid. 19th Century made
by or attributed to Stevens & Son

The Numbered Whistles (Whistle Models) & Numbered with Plates

THE ARTICLE IS STILL under construction

Plates found on whistles by Stevens & Son- Sons 
dating and examination of plates & examples

The common plates can be devided into 4 groups and periods. * and **
Here they are in chronological order:
Continue reading Stevens & Sons Round Whistles & Some Special Ones, Part C. by Avner Strauss

Stevens & Sons History of the Whistle Maker & His Whistles Part A. A. Strauss

Stevens &­­­­ Sons Whistles & History.   Avner Strauss

Part A        (Underconstruction)
General History, Addresses, Richard Porteous importance and inventions, Railway and more adv.  Stamps time line and a glimpse at few whistle example
from many more to be discussed in more details in part B , C, & D , as interlude.

Part B – Tube whistles SNT & TNT
The First Two Notes Tube Whistle,
The first SNT (Single Note Tube) with two windows ,
The Invention of the Partition, & TNT (Two Note Tube) Stevens & Sons
Part C – Dating Stevens & Sons Whistles, Dating Stevens’s Whistles,
Round Whistles & others, retailers & Much more.
Part D – Bell Whistles and the discovery of the inventor


John Stevens  1779 – 1861
James John Stevens 1807-1881
James Stevens Jr.  1840 –1911
Warwick Alan Stevens  1842– 1924
Richard Porteous  1802-1881

Company History 
John Stevens was Born in Birmingham 1779 and came to London to start his Business in the early 1800s, He started as a maker and supplier of agricultural
Implement maker,  supplying the army with Shovels & pick axe handles,
during the Napoleonic wars. Soon after the wars he moved into Gas pipes making supplies and engineering, and into Railway supplies which was a fast growing business which he got into influenced by his wife’s Brother who was an agent for railway supplies.
In the 1820s, 1830s he was mentioned as having connection to George  Stephenson . ( Inventor of the Locomotive, the miner lamp and “Father of the Railway”)
The company grew fast with his son James John Stevens joining and expanding the firm taking part in the Great exhibition of 1851 and 1861 so in the pre Glasgow branch (1865) they already had close to 70 employees while the new SIGNAL WORK kept growing after his father the founder John Stevens died (1861)
James moved with his family to Glasgow in the 1860’s.

Stevens & Sons c. 1865 James John Stevens age 58, and two sons James Stevens Jr.age 25 & Warwick Alan Stevens age 23. [other sons which seemed to be less involved in the family business are Leicester Bradney Stevens 1851-1914 and Stafford Evan Stevens 1845 – 1866 who died at the age of 21 are not in photo]

John Stevens Tombstone * at Norwood grave 3817, square 47
(d. December 4 1861 )
other burials at
the grave are
James John Stevens ,
Caroline Matilda Stevens
(d .19th Nov 1871),
Anna Maria Stevens
(d. 26June 1858 )
and Stafford Evan Stevens
(d.12 March1866 )



General note and observation with some reservation: At the time period, there were no whistle makers per se but rather brass founders iron mongers and Arm makers, Kitchen ware manufacturers Button makers and other goods, who made whistles as a “side line”, Today whistle collectors and scholars relate to some as Whistle Makers. This article here concentrates on the general Company History and whistles made or attributed to Stevens & Sons and less in many other aspects ( There are many details ) of the family Biography.
See my article about 19th century Whistle Makers.
It is also important to understand that as manufacturers and factory owners had rarely a shop of their own and were dependent on orders from retailers, contractors and companies, this explains that rarely an actual manufacturer name is stamped and many times a stamp of the retailers,
companies or inventor appears.

Stevens & Son, were one of the 3 great whistle makers up to 1860s.
And by the 1840’s were manufacturers of mostly Railway related goods:
The railway Times Magazine Vol. II 1839 Adv. by Stevens & Son
We can Learn about the diversity of products and projects Stevens & son were manufacturing in 1839 : GAS-ENGINEERS, OBELISK, Black Friars road :
Gas works for railways, manufactories, Cast Iron tanks, Liquer backs, Steam Boilers, cast main pipes for gas, steam or water, improved coke ovens, drying stores, and steam Kilns for grain constructed and erected in any part of England. Wrought- iron tubes and gas fittings of all kinds, brass and gun metal castings, Chemical apparatus, Experimental machinery, etc. etc. Plans & estimates for the above.
One may note which of the above relates to whistles.

From huge iron constructions to Railway Signals and smaller Scales, Hand Lamps and of cource whistles which were not mentenioned in advertisments. Below you can see part of a Scale made at Darlington works and a Hand Lamp made by Stevens in the 1840s .

Here is a historic whistle, heavy gun metal made of one rod and a screw mouthpiece, early whistle before size and weigh were reduced designed by Porteous and made by Stevens C. 1920s, 1830s. A previously unknown whistle found 2015 which employs the first known compound round Mouthpiece .
Part C has a lot more on this whistle and many more.


Continue reading Stevens & Sons History of the Whistle Maker & His Whistles Part A. A. Strauss

John M. Westwood The first Glasgow Whistle Maker & Samuel Auld Whistles Breaking News ! A. Strauss

John. M. Westwood *  whistle maker  b.1856 – d. 1886
His family (James Westwood His Dad) seems to have come from New York with his other brothers, all in the brass foundry business (His brothers in the trade James, Robert, Alexander & Andrews show up later some as Andrews were probably working with him).
John opened his own business in 1872 as Tinsmith and Gas Fitter at 73 Cumberland St. Calton, Glasgow .
                      Excerpt from 1973 Directory.Westwood made whistle which later became the model identified with S. Auld whistles.
Continue reading John M. Westwood The first Glasgow Whistle Maker & Samuel Auld Whistles Breaking News ! A. Strauss