A web site dedicated to whistles, research and collecting whistles. by Avner Strauss
Category: ; By Function;Marine Naval;Military; Whistle Manufacturers History and Samples by A.Strauss;Catalog Pages;Unidentified maker;Silversmith; By Material;Metal & Brass;Silver & Gold; By Continent
History and Timeline of ‘William Dowler & Sons’ Whistle, Button & Military Ornaments Manufacturers. In 6 Parts.
Intro This article (Part III a) focuses on the Birmingham Whistles, Military Ornaments and Button manufacturer William Dowler, later ‘William Dowler & Sons’. It is the continuation of the first article, and an on going research of 15 years, some of the first finds were posted here in 2008 and in the Wikipedia and in 2015- 2016 a revised article about the family which established their business in 1776. See Link, William & George Dowler which presented the family’s history and work.
George Dowler had the bigger manufacturing plant and manufactured whistles which were advertised but not identified to this day, continuing the family’s plants & manufacturing business up to 1870, it was ‘Willian Dowler’ who was the bigger Whistle manufacturer, He started working independently in 1853 and took over the family’s assets in 1876. In fact seeing the whole picture we can say that since 1853 William took an independent path and only in 1876 after legal fights gained control of the other various family plants and assets which George was running up to 1870. Thus between the years 1853 – 1870 There were two different manufacturers; one is Dowler – Birmingham, the other W. Dowler -Birmingham.
Georgian Period Whistles, British made whistles in the Pre Victorian times were a theme I was interested in for over a decade, New antique whistles surface here and there and throw light on the development of ‘Professional’ Round whistles, time line and makers, of which little is known about. *
But these certainly give a new perspective to the term IRONMONGERS in the 17th 18th 19th century who were making whistles, and which later became more Brass Founders I believe.
Before I put many of the thoughts, comments & observations on these,
I share some of mine and others, Needless to say all very rare.
Starting with a Trio of Military whistles from my own collection,
most possibly by J. Dixon of Sheffield very early 1800, These include few amazing features for the whistle student and scholars who have a keen eye.
The sound is of each one is outstanding, (I am tempted to say the best I heard ) Interestingly the trio forms the sound of a triad chord,
I will edit and add comments later.(There is a LOT to be said and learn)
Two important American whistles long searched for by whistle collectors
were found April 2019.
Alexander P Hatch Patents were thought as none existing, since none were seen and the patents applied for stated no model examples.
As to rarity we know of another Plural whistle I discovered with a long time U.S.A collector in 2016, The Police one is the only example I know of.
I imagine there are more to be discovered and there is a good chance that the more fancy variation with few combined whistles as seen on the same patent of the plural whistle is somewhere out there… (so it is with the British Plural one that I posted the patent for last year, no actual example ever seen – it is from the same period)
keep your eyes open it is a treasure probably worth well over a 1000, hopefully with more exposure to the ones that just surfaced more will show up in the future.
It is a pity that there is no information about this inventor who was a citizen of Bridgeport Connecticut at the time, I am sure an extensive research can reveal much more as to his life, Albeit the fact that his whistle patents are among the most cited by whistle inventors, dozens of newly patented whistles since then quote his patents, including 21st century ones.
Alexander P. Hatch American Whistle patents App. for 1899 & 1901
Both are made of Nickel Plated Brass.
I highly recommend reading carefully the patents description & drawings in the next links.
The one on left side is know as the plural whistle and you may see the patent drawings and description HERE at google patent storage
It was found with the original chain in an old bicycle store, in mint condition.
The whistle on the right a tube whistle with unique design and partition is stamped
POLICE DEPARTMENT and has patent date as well see google patents HERE All rights reseved to A. Strauss Whistle museum
we are glad to help with any questions regarding whistles,
please attach photos to questions, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whistles used as Bird Calls are a huge category,
Many of the hand operated type whistles vs. Mouth whistles use a Bellow,
There are few types of Bellows. This time I will review few pedal shape bellows
made of wood & leather. The operation is by hand & the term is used because of the shape albeit I think these could be played by the foot as well.
Here are few examples of Antique Bird Calls – Whistles, 19th century to early 1900, certainly a seldom met with type.
The French and European Continent Bird Calls & are very different than the American ones, and of the far east ones.
These I believed to be folk art work of rural hunters; Tin whistle combining a mechanical element, a Bellow – Pedal shaped Bellow & Whistle, but found out some stamped bellows.
I had looked through many catalogs of bird calls – whistle manufacturers from mid 19th Century onward and had never seen one in a catalogue.
There are four different calls here all from France & Neighbouring countries (Belgium) , I would be glad to see more if the reader happens to have.
Next is one taken apart, the Tin whistle incorporating a button type whistle can be used inhaling or exhaling it seems that when attached to the Bellow it works by pressing the bellow and it omits a sound when released, but short lite press and release movements produce both sounds.
The calls are made of various materials including a Tin Whistle , Leather, wood, steel spring & iron nails.
Early ‘Bobbie Whistle’, Whale-Bone Pea Whistle Pre Metropolitan Police Constable Whistle from Hill’s Family.
1821 Early ‘Peeler’, ‘Bobbie Whistle’,Whale-Bone Pea Whistle Pre Metropolitan Police Constable Whistle from Hill’s Family. The next email and photos I quote word for word with some private lines omitted, is from Mr. John Hill Noted for his Great Articles about Historic Places and Cultures among others.
I received it with answers to my questions, I chose to put Some technical and Family history in Bold letters.
What a pleasant surprise it was to receive your friendly and interesting email. And what a treat it was to discover your fabulous website on whistles – it is absolutely wonderful – congratulations!
My father said it belonged to his great-great-grandfather who was a “Hill” who lived in London and was one of the early “Peelers” (also called “Bobbies” – after Robert or “Bobbie” Peel) or the specialist police set up on the suggestion of Sir Robert Peel in 1814 in Ireland and, in 1829, 1000 men were formed into the “Metropolitan Police Force” who were regularly referred to as “Peelers”. It apparently belonged to him and he carried it while at work. I was lucky enough to inherit it from my father.
We don’t know much about this distant ancestor as the family history seems to have been broken when my grandfather, Alfred Hodson Hill (1887-1977), moved c. 1910 to Montreal, Canada. Before that, his father (who was a silversmith and son of the “Peeler” who owned the whistle) and family moved to Sheffield from London at some unknown date in the 19th century.
That is about as far as the family stories go.
How lovely to hear back from you! I only wish my father was still alive – he would have been so excited to find someone so interested in his family heirloom.
It truly is a unique whistle – i have been very fond of it since childhood and always impressed with the fact that ti is undoubtedly unique.
The whistle is, as you know, carved in the shape of a whale in
(presumably) whale-bone – but maybe from sperm-whale teeth or walrus ivory – I wouldn’t know how to tell the difference – can you help with this? Also, would it be useful for me to gently rub it with mineral oil – or do you have another suggestion – or, should I just leave it alone ?
One blows through the mouth of the whale to make it whistle. It does have a dark brown “pea” (roughly 8 mm. in diameter) inside the whistle, and the hole (where the sound comes out) does not contain a reed or anything other than the original piece of whale bone – with a sharp-edged hole cut into it.
It is just about exactly 8 cm long, 3cm wide at the widest point, 2 cm high
at its highest point (on the top of the whale’s head),
and about 1.5 cm wide at the narrowest place.
It still has a good-sounding loud, piercing whistle –
I still use it occasionally to call guests from a little cabin we have about 80 metres from our home.
If I may add I believe the maker was a very fine skilled craftsman who hopefully made other whistles as well. It is also notable that it is a PEA WHISTLE.
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American Bosun Pipes, Bosun Whistles, and More. A.Strauss Some of you may remember that the old whistle museum website was lost, later I was able to save many posts from there using the Time machine web archive. I started copying some of the 500 posts the photos may not be as good as the original ones and will now have a double ‘whistle museum’ stamp but will suffice. This post was one of many dealing with the subject of Bosun whistles, I will spontaneously bring more while I keep researching and studying. A.S
American Gold Bosun Whistle, 1853 Gold Dollars sides 128mm 29gr,
Cylindrical sound chamber, Spiral wire at Keel end, 2 Filigree bands and mouthpiece, serpentine gun.
A drawer – Cabinet with few dozens of Boatswain’s pipes – Buson whistles.
The second from top right hand side is a 140mm old uncleaned silver, I was told by experts that it is from 1820 but it it seems to me as a very early estimate.
The design was certainly a USA style 19th century design since in early 20th century German catalogs of German makers, the same model appears for export as USA style Boatswains pipe.
The Model is marked “STERLING” .
A similar in weight , measures, design and size model stamped AE & Co. Utica N.Y
In a Triangular stamp
with Plain & almost straight gun
L: 140mm Weight: 24gr
It may be of a later date but I did not take the time to research that company yet. This model also in nickel plated brass became the standard for the U.S. Navy, seldom stamped with the marine vessel’s name.
The fourth from bottom right hand side is stamped , on one side :
U.S.A Pattern (Note the word pattern uses different punches for letters ).
Dated 1936 L.C.H US CGC Hamilton WHEC-715 and US COAST GUARD
on the other.
It is also stamped under the Keel’s frame LORDSHIP N.Y in between two tiny stamps inside rectangles which are too small to decipher. LORDSHIP N.Y , They used HLP as their hallmark while their corporate name was “His Lordships Products” until about 1973, they then changed their name to “Lordship Industries” and their hallmark to LI.
The next one is a nicely designed whistle made circa late 1990s early 2000’s as a souvenir often sold in a wood box inlaid with brass anchor.
When I first saw it it was 2004 and was tempted to pay few times more then it’s worth,
It is sold in souvenir shops in many port cities, along the eastern and western coast.
I consider it as an American one since I had not seen it sold anywhere else but it may be made in china or the far east .
To Be cont. Meanwhile I would like to add that looking at my whistles I found very few American Shaped ones and all together there must be many thousands of ones stamped with a SHIP’s name and US navy ones , so if any of my readers can send photos of some (will be credited) it would be appreciated.
In the meantime I realized that it could be categorized by shapes that can be easily identified and I shall bring DRAWINGS of the typical ones.
Few countries have their own typical design that can be recognized in a glance mostly by looking at the Keel – body.
Russian bosun pipe shape
American Bosun type shape
German Bosun type shape
French Bosun type shape
British bosun type shapes
Chinese Buson shapes and unique features (I did a short post about some here in the past) Early types
If you have any other examples and wish to contribute
Please email : email@example.com
Two rare type bicycle TUBULAR REED WHISTLES, Tube reed whistle, late 19th Century early 20th century.
I thought these are very beautiful will write more about these at some point
The left one is Probably by J. Hudson & Co. it has a screw mouthpiece, Nickel Silver Brass, I do not think it was a Model supplied to the public .
The other is Brass with a Horn made Mouthpiece and sounds LOUD like a small Saxophone. If you do see variations kindly send me photos, I do have another variation somewhere but I did not realize it was a bicycle whistle , thought it was a pitch pipe.
Dixon & Sons Extractors & other combination whistles. A Strauss
Underconstruction A photo of 6 examples enlarged from the Sheffield City Collection;
Model #104R made late 1870s and later, Length; 75 mm Powder primer and picker combined with dog whistle. Here is a drawing of this model #104N as appears in the 1882 catalogue
and in the Sheffield city collection.Model #220N from the same catalogue & period.
Model #220 as seen in the catalogue and actual one in closed position.
You may note that all this combination- shooting gudgets -multitools – with whistles, used round dog call whistles that were made as separate models before.Model #220N Powder primer with outside self-acting picker for gun nipples.
Model #220N as stamped on whistle was made late 1870’s early 1880s, shows in the 1882 catalogue.
Next; Moffatt’s Patent #11396 registered 1887. It included a spring blade which comes out between the two cartridge puller claws.
This part starts with metal whistles (one wooden) excluding Britannia metal made whistles which are to be uploaded later, and continues with Ivory,
Horn & Stag horn made whistles. Materials & Identifying features for Dixon whistles would be discussed later. The Part dealing with round whistles terminating with an Animal Head can be viewed here, Part I here,The begining of Part II. a.,Here. Dew to the length PART I of the article was divided into 7 parts, all posted.
Dixon’s whistle’s timeline divided roughly to three periods over the 19th century;
Early – Pre 1835 Dixon, Dixon & Son Middle – 1835 Dixon & Sons Later 19th Century c. 1865 – 1900
The earliest whistles Dixon made were round whistles.
These were very sturdy cast or machined from one metal rod with no hole at top, the drilled hole came later, I believe the early ones were made mostly for military use. and later quality was upgraded in terms of materials and designs for the elite, sportsmen, and later for railways.
A very early type: A special knot was used to tie a lanyard to the whistle’s top; This whistle uses the “Sheffield Fipple” (a term I coined here) which is discussed in details, in a later paragraph here, and the round metal band below mouthpiece which may well be unique to Dixon (to be verified).
The next photo shows another very early Dixon on the left with the same features but a different top design, mushroom like.
A very early type beside the ‘next generation’
The whistle is embossed with the image of a Hi wheel Penny Farthing Bicycle rider surrounded with a laurel wreath, and having two identical front and back sides.
It may had been made as a prize for the winner in some bike riding race competition, made in the U.S.A c. 1870’s to early 80’s . It was found in New England and it the first and only one seen by the author so far.
The whistle has two notes ; F# and G# . It has an interesting unique diaphragm and a smaller chamber at one side of the inside part to make the higher pitch.
Dimensions; 66mm by 45mm, by 10mm .
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