19th Century Round Pea Whistles Timeline History and more. By A. Strauss

Early 1870 master piece, round pea whistle ,By J.Hudson or Linegar whistle museum
Above J. Hudson 1870’s Round Pea whistle with a stop hole, Birmingham.

See READ MORE For few dozens photos


This article is just a glimpse and a part of Part one in a very long 7 part research into this type of whistles,  consider it a first draft , There are MANY more which can be accurately dated and way more which I could not yet accurately date
but as a draft it may inspire others and you may send and email to info@avnerstrauss.com to add ask contact.
I would try to first cover  mostly British 19th Century and some whistles of other countries without going into many details, since some countries deserve another article.
Part one is a draft and 19th Century General Time line and whistle designs.

In general Clay whistles are in a category by itself while Brass and silver whistles lend their qualities to certain functions professions  and usages.

While at times we concentrate on a certain material the material dictates the design and the time line is of designs of  these whistle types.
So I used whistles from Organic materials as wood Horn Ivory bone
as well as various metals.
The standard of  British Silversmiths in England dated their whistles accurately
is certainly a great help in trying to date whistles.

As the century’s clock moves we find more and more whistles and examples so
one may find one for each year . From the late 1860s there was a BOOM in whistle making, the 1880 to 1900 seen over a 1000 various types of just metal whistles , should we consider stamped whistles one can find way over 1000
stamped metal whistles at that time.
The term for a whistle at that period was CALL and the term whistle for an object was used more in the context of Toys.
Professional whistles were CALLS or Dog Calls and Bird Calls  in all catalogs .

There is a reciprocal and mutual correspondence between CAST METAL and Lathe Turned  Wood , Horn, and other organic materials , in the style and design of whistles .

Obviously wood and horn being softer materials were easier to work on with early tools and lathes and appeared first inspiring designs in Metal.
( The ‘pip’ at the top of whistles which was a standard in covering the tiny hole left by the lathe ws filled with a ‘Pip’ and later appeared as part of the design in metal made whistles this  could be a nice article by itself.

My observation is that the MOST important inventions concerning the Practical construction regarding and affecting  the sound of Mouth whistles in the 19th Century were mainly :

A   The compound circular (compound round )  Mouthpiece. See drawing.
B   The circular Disk Shape Diaphgragm.
C  The addition of a Pea to a whistle .
( See a Long Paragraph here Regarding  4 types )
D Reed whistles.
E  The inward partition.
F The Snail shape referee Escargot whistle.

Most of these inventions developed mainly in the second half of the 19th Century
only the first four are concerning round pea and Pealess ( Ones without a pea) whistles. Obviously  A and B were to be used in tube whistles (GSW’s)
Each one of these particular developments deserves a Long article which is still
in the making.

Dating ; After years of comparing dated and undated whistles many small details in the style and design can be very useful in dating whistles :
The top, the window, the mouthpiece, the pea, and smaller details as the PIP on top , etc.

Arbitrary choice of 8 early Round Pea and Pealess whistles made of Organic materials .
8 antique 19th century round whistles made of Ivory, Bone & Horn whistle museum
Line A
Left:Center left Japan  / Center Right Englandq / Right Ivory , a style used in the first half of the 19th century and earlier in Brass Bone and wood .
2nd Line
Left:  Bone 15th century/ Center left: dog relief on an Antler whistle
Center Right: 18th Century bone with a stamp on top. Right 19th century Antler relief of a Deer, A Gentleman’s Dog call – hunting whistle.

Horn made whistle 1779

1779 Round whistle Horn , whistle museum archive1795
LONDON , By Samuel Pemberton
Solid Silver Round Whistle 1795 Samuel Pemberton 10.5 GR. whistle museum archive
The top and the window are certainly a great help in Dating whistles , This particular top and window  were typical of 1790 to 1840 British whistles mostly seen on Whistle combined with Bells- Rattlers and Teethers.

1803 London Silversmith
1803 round pea whistle london rubbbed whistle museum archive1810’s
1810 James England Dublin
1810 round pea whistle by J. England w.m.a.

John Reiley , London

1824 John Reily, London 5 cm Round Pea Whistle

Issak Hibberd London,
This conical round pea whistle with a fitting silver case, was first designed and seen in the Late 1870’s as a military whistle, The conical round whistle developed to the much heavier  Cased Beaufort whistle which became a standard for Military forces especially ones on Horses.

1828 by Isaac Hibberd, London 2.5inch 6.4 cms whistle museum

A wood whistle dated 1830
1830 treen wood whistle , a classic design probably by J. Dixon & Sons whistle museum

1830 treen wood whistle , turned wood , a classic round pea whistle design whistle museum 1830 fipple Dixon style, a. strauss

These whistles with few variations were used for railway conductors and Postmen in the 1840’s
and made by J. Dixon & Sons in Sheffield England for many years. Their New York Branch sold these to various gun and arm suppliers in the USA up to the 1880’s.
Dixon Horn VERY Early Railway 10cm whistle museum
1846, Note the compound construction and ignoring the animal you may well see the design of the Round whistle .
1846 round whistle , silver. England , whistle museum archive
1849 by Y & W Birmingham
Round Pea whistle, round pea whistles time line Y & W Birm whistle museum
Late 1840s
C Parker
Parker Tappered round 1851 whistle1851
Benham & Froud Manufacturers, and Kipp , London  for Wishaw’s Telekouphonon
whistle patent . They made that type of whistle in Brass in wood and in Ivory
( Gutta -Percha )  .


Denham & Froud Manufacturers Brass version for wishaw's whistle patent 1851 whistle museum Benham & Proud Manufuctering 1851 Whishaw

1860  J. Dixon & Sons   – The fipple was made from Hard Cacao wood a feature that can be used to identify Dixon made whistles ( And Hawksley whistles as well )  .  tappered mouthpiece was the most common and the earliest and the most common .
Later the compound round circular mouthpiece developed in the MID nineteens century and was always rarer.
A 19th century antique whistle by J Dixon & sons a study of round pea construction whistle museumI took apart this round J Dixon & Sons whistle ,  1860’s or earlier whistle so the special construction of the FIPPLE which serves as Diaphragm as well can be clearly seen, a Unique study of fipples in round pea whistles is long over dew and an over looked subject.

The fipple the pea and the body mouthpiece part in a J.Dixon whistle by A.Strauss

1860 ‘s And the PEA in the whistle .
Thomas Yates  model appeared in his 1870 catalog but was made earlier and here is a chance to look at two IMPORTANT components THE PEA and THE COMPOUND ROUND MOUTHPIECE. which became the standard for all Bobby whistles Police tube two notes whistles.

Here is something new that has never been told , we see 3 ( Photo to be uploaded) compond round mouthpieces on 3x Thomas Yates whistles , These were made in the 1860’s and 1870’s ( Many were made BEFORE the catalog appeared on 1870 after the ruin of Dowler’s factory by fire, the catalog took over a year to be made. These are some of the first known round pea whistles to use a round mouthpiece and a disk diaphragm , another interesting observation would be the PEA you may see that one pea is drilled and the other is made of a dried up SEED or Cut wood pea , Cut wood has corners. dried up wrinkled seed does look simillar at first glance.
There were 4 main types of PEAS used in the 19th century
A – 
  SEEDS, dried up seeds, mostly in smaller whistles
B–    WOOD, the wooden Pea , Cut as a semi round or uneven dice.
( There are few kinds of woods , I do not know which wood was the most common but rumor says it is from a LEMON TREE .
C -The “PRONGLED” PEA – DRILLED PEA, This was the process by which a square dice wood was turned into a small ball Prongled  is a word not found in any dictionary but I heard it from workers that heard it from workers in old time whistle factories as Hudson. .
D – Cork wood , mostly from Portugal, a very light soft wood . sometimes with extra large peas.

The subject has many implications including the development of SCREW TOP Round whistles which enabled replacing and / or choosing the right pea size,
and PIG-NOSE WHISTLES ( Round pea whistles with two blow hole in the mouthpiece, which were made to prevent the peas from getting “stuck” in the window, at times an extra hole was added for tonguing . Pic to be up loaded)
Round pea whistles with Pig-nose mouthpiece  are a subject in itself,
These were made for a relatively short period.

Why is the hole drilled and how did they made the round pea ?
Well a Prong in this context was a LONG THIN ROD TURNING  by A MACHINE  AND STANDING UPRIGHT
The making of PEAS – wodden warbling balls in whistle involved cutting a long piece of square wood, then  drilling many holes and then cut into square dices so each dice had one hole.
Then the square dice was threaded on the prong ( A Sharp edge as in A FORK’s ‘TEETH ‘ ) when the prong started turning a worker would smooth the dice corners with a File and rounded it up into a BALL shape. This process was time consuming but needed for mass production and achieved few goals.
IT WAS MADE WITH HARD WOOD THAT WAS HEAVY BUT WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO DRILL IN without cracking, because the wood was relatively heavy,  and would not “warble” – ‘dance’ well in the whistle chamber, with the hole in the middle it warbled well , the hole helped air move thru it and prevent the PEA from getting stuck in the window or worth, running out , the french cast whistles solved the problem by heaving a small “Pip” coming out of the lower whistle window pane and blocking its way out.
Later came the CORK WOOD Peas , the cork was light soft and easy to turn into a ball. Can I use the observation of the peas in these Two Yates to date the whistles which was earlier ? I think it would be on the safe side to assumethe seed pea was earlier , and that means that PRONGLED Peas that were PRONGED were made in England since somewhere in the 1860s .
SO PEAS can be of great help dating whistles when we compare YATES whistles we can see earlier ones with SEED PEA and later ones with PRONGLED PEA-
Drilled PEA. It seems thet this custom of drilling peas appears first sometime before the 1870’s .
T. Yates with 'prongled' drilled pea , and compound round mouthpiece whistle museum whistle museum
   Pig nose Huge MG , whistle museumAbove an undated whistle it is extra large and extra heavy and has the charm
of a bit crudely early made whistle.

A round pea whistle for the ‘Royal Mail Great Steam Packet Company’
side view

Royal Mail Great Package company side view, whistle museum

Round Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. RMSP crest whistle museum

J. Stevens and Son Model 29 ( at times mistakengly read as # 63 )
Numbers are  Each digit is punched  by hand .
J Stevens & Son, London & Glasgow pre 1871 Model 63 67mm screw top Leif AUg 12 92 anon after JJ( * T. Yates whistles TO BE ADDED )
1863 T. C. Banks USA Patent No 39,873  drawing, showing a compound round mouthpiece. This is the earliest drawing I noticed of this type of mouthpiece.

1863 T. Banks Compound circular mouthiece on a round whistle Patent 39,873
Joseph Hudson 
Large Round pea Military whistle with a stop hole, Brass , and stop hole is made of a short pipe made of German Silver, Note the cut chunky wood pea.
Early 1870 master piece, round pea whistle ,By J.Hudson or Linegar whistle museum1870’s J Stevens & Sons Model No. 31 {Photo by L. Bailey )
Model 31 J Stevens & Sons, London & Glasgow 50mm PAGE48
1878 silver military or Hawking whistle with stop hole, London, W.T.,  Thornhill
1878 military silver1878 Numbered # 338

1878 Hall marks W.T

1878 silver note simmilarities to Hudson's top

Dates to be still verified on the next J. Dixon & Sons  screw top and a PIP on the diaphragm retailed according to side stamp by : J. Paterstone Southampton, 1860s or 1870’s
(shooting accessories maker and retailer ) The toothgrip seen here is not a feature noted on any other Dixon round pea whistles.

J.Dixon mid 1870s stamped w retailer's name J.Patsyon Southhampton, screw top round pea whistle whistle museum
j dixon mid 1870s whistle toothgrip

1883 Catalog by J. Dixon & Sons , photos of some actual whistles to be added , J Dixon & Sons made whistles since the very beginning of the 19 century.
May be the only company making whistles all thru this century, Therir whistles were always considered of Outstanding quality.
Dixon & Sons Models 5 & 15 1883 catalogue whistle museum

Next A round pea whistle stamped J. Buck Newgate London, Other whistles by him had been found , it is attributed to The well known maker J. Barrall but some new variations may point at an earlier  maker.
J.Buck Newgate Round pea whistle by Jhon Barrall , 1880s whistle museum1886
T. Yates Dated fancy whistle with compound round mouthpiece .
T Yates Round whistle, MAJOR T AUCHINLECK TO F MULL 1886 whistle museum

1899 Round NWR Hudson 1899 Military Railway whistle, by J.Hudson,
Used in Pakistan North India. (North West Railway )

1899 Round NWR Hudson 1899 Military Railway whistle,Dated Round Pea Whistle by J.Hudson,, whistle museum
1899 with notched window by William Oliver Birmingham
Birmingham Maker 1899 whistle makers ‘WO’ for William OliverUnderconstruction Photos to be added
All rights reserved 2016 Avner Strauss -Whistle museum.
whistlemuseumAdditional Photos of 19th Century whistles
Antique Nordic whalebone , seadog horn whistle ,ethnic art, whistle museumJ. Dixon & Sons
3x  19th century whistles
Ivory, Cast Brittania metal , and Nikel Silver , 3 whistles by J.Dixon & Sons, 19th Century whistle museumOne of many typical advertising and souvenir whistles
Victorian wood whistle made for thye U.S.A market, with a birdie on top, , two notes, whistle museum

Viictorian acron top round pea whistle with a hunting dog relief, early to mid 19th century antler horn , whistle museum

Two Antler round pea whistles by J.Dixon & Sons, whistle museumRichard Porteous – Porteous’s Wind Instrument for signals Registered February 27 1845 is the First dated compound circular mouthpiece.

Porteous,s Wind Instrument for signals February 27 1845 stamp Museum
19th Century round pea whistle combined with a teethr made of Ivory whistle museum Round Pea whistles Time line r19th Century round whistle Ivory Teether , whistle museum
Two ivory and bone whistle large is a 19th century American Police , small by Dixon & Sons Sheffield, whistle museum

Hope to hear from you out there )


3 thoughts on “19th Century Round Pea Whistles Timeline History and more. By A. Strauss”

  1. These are lovely, thank you. However, recently my husband found a small tin toy whistle that is approximately two-three inches long. It’s blue with musical instruments on it. He found it under a house he was working on & it appears old, perhaps 1950’s or earlier? Have any ideas or perhaps suggestions where I can go to find out?

  2. I have an earlyGeorgian?,maybe mid,brass whistle,quite large,3 inches long,quite stout,with a treen mouthpiece about another inch long.
    The aperture on the whistle itself,is a cheese cutter in design,half a moon,if you like.

    A very curios and interesting item,which I was hoping you might be able to shed some further information,and worth.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Many thanks,

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