By A. Strauss
Dating G.P.O Whistles.
The History of the General Post Office in Great Britain is well documented,
I shall concentrate on British Whistles used with the GPO and bring NEWS and New information and findings as to whistle’s dates and makers, previously not published,
(It is underconstruction, and an on going research ! )
I shall start with late Victorian times first, then mid Victorian.
and continue to Post Victorian and up to WWII and later up to the 1980s when they stopped the use of whistles.
VICTORIAN PERIOD G.P.O WHISTLES.
As of writing only 2 Known Hudson & Co. GPO whistles are known ,
and as a rulle of thumb G.P.O Numbered whistles are rare;
1 Digit one known 2 Digits 1 known pre 1895 and one 2 Digits from 1902 Order
3 digits (a later 1914 series) very few known.
All these are very rare, and I am sure more may surface in the future,
Hopefully of other London Districts.
Others are 4 did its numbered in the series of 1000, 2000, 4000.
Ordered in 1915 supplied 191are all scarce.
We know that as early as 1891 Two note tube whistles by Osborne & Son
(Made by Bent & Parker) were marketed in advertisements to Rural Postman & Mail Cart Drivers;
Next we see 1888-1901 whistles,
The Metropolitan stamp Patent and J. Hudson & Co.
stamps are curved – arched.
The address has a DOT after 13 so 13. Barr St.
A Turning point in 1906
When the official issue of whistles to RURAL postmen commenced in
1906 The larger order was made from J. Hudson & Co. in Birmingham.
Many whistles were subsequently supplied to the post office. In fact, Rule 24 of the ‘Rules for a Rural Postman’ went on to state that
‘He must carry a horn or loud whistle…to let the public know of his coming.’
Extract of the paperwork from 1906 to check how many whistles would be needed just for THE EASTERN DISTRICT (843) There were other districts.
Hudson & Co. later Acme Whistles Ltd. were undoubtly and by FAR the LARGEST supplier of whistles to the Royal mail, General Post Office, so most whistles stamped GPO were made by them and carry the Metropolitan type stamp .
Rarer to find whistles by other makers.
Here are Four different makers of G.P.Os Left to Right
1) J.Hudson & Co. Numbered 2318 1916
2) W. Dowler & Sons The International Model, used a different font design for their’s
3) Bent & Parker & J.R Gaunt 1906 – 1930s (To be discussed further),
4) Alfred DeCourcy Late 1918 -1927
All are 1900s to Pre WWII period.
Alfred DeCourcy’s 1900s sollid one piece top variation. (1906 Patent)
Bent & Parker (B & P) – J. R. Gaunt GPO, (To be expanded)
I took a photo showing their distinct LOOP design, made since early 1900,
only in 2020 I had found early 1900 Pre WWI J. R. Gaunt whistles after waiting many years, (An article about their whistles is saved here as draft)
This type were probably made 1904 to 1938 (accurate date to be refined since other variations exsist).
My research shows that Gaunt which were the world’s largest maker & supplier Of accoutrements,badges, Buttons etc etc) to the British Goverment with 12 over seas Branches from Canada to Melbourne, Absorbed few Button manufacturers as well as Bent and Parker in 1923, It is believed the two cooparted together earlier,
still the Bent & Parker 1938 dated Military whistles were Gaunts
albeit they carried B & P stamps.
GENERAL TIME LINE & DATES FOR HUDSON’S GPO WHISTLES
(Dating G.P.O Whistles)
J. Hudson & Co. Whistles for the G.P.O
Upon studying the various dates of Hundreds of Hudson made whistles we can see that large orders were made in CERTAIN YEARS and then paused for few,
We can see 8 main periods. Some orders were large ones of many Thousands of whistles. Thanks whistle collecction for clear graphic design, It show clearly the GAPS in years. see blank spots in table so far we had not seen any dated for these four periods, It is a summed other makers; De Courcy or J.R. Gaunt – Parker filled in the gaps.
TIME LINE & DATES FOR J. HUDSON’S & Co. Acme Whistles Ltd. G.P.O WHISTLES
1888 -1895 First GPO whistles Numbered and stamped with London Districts
1898 -1901 order 13 Dot Barr St. Address Pause None
1902 small Order of Numbered whistle so far very few found 1902-1904
1906 Very Large order supplied 1907 -8 . 13 NO Dot Barr St. Address. Pause, None 1909 to 1913
1914- 15 LARGE ORDER supplied mostly 1916 ,p 244 Barrr St address. Pause
1922 – 1930 (The photo of 1917 is actually 1922 one ) so none 1917 -1922 Found yet.
1930 – 1939 Barr St Hockley
Post WWII up to 1968 Last GPO produced
(Later for about 6 years G.P stamped)
1969- about 1975 GPO becomes G.P General Post
To date the PERIOD and the exact year of a specific whistle requires
CAREFULL study of STAMPS.
It seems that after Dowler’s still 1898 -1902 the whistles of none Hudson makers
De Courcy or B & P – Gaunt were ordered in the Pauses – GAPS.
Numbered whistles were supplied in THREE PERIODS
All Numbered Are by Hudson c 4000 + were numbered
As a rule of thumb Numbered with single digit Two Digits Three Digits are rare and only one example of each is know to the author.
all 4 Digits are very scarce.
Here is a Chart of dates not found as of Posting the article
ones to look for.
If you find any kindly update us. Thanks
1885 Joseph Hudson Letter to G.P.O
Hudson started supplying whistles on a very limited scale in the early 1890s
(or late 1880s) According to their record in 1902, the two known earlier examples may had been part of an experimental project. The two are numbered and marked with a letter and carry the 131 Barr St. address stamp.
Joseph Hudson efforts to supply the G.P.O with whistles were revealed in a 1885 letter, on the
Acme Whistles Ltd. FB Page after finding this whistle
With the ongoing success of the Metropolitan Police Whistle, Hudson were keen to explore all opportunities for the new whistle and were writing to suggest that the whistle should be used by postmen for protection. “We can give you plenty of instances where it has been the means of saving property and maybe life” they wrote.
Finding this top whistle in 2020s Acme whistles Ltd. shared important info from their archives, and Posted this Joseph Hudson Letter:
“To the Right Honourable Lord John Manning in 1885. we are my Lord Your Obedient Servants With that, the Hudson’s signed off a letter to the Right Honourable Lord John Manning in 1885. With the ongoing success of the Metropolitan Police Whistle, they were keen to explore all opportunities for the new whistle and were writing to suggest that the whistle should be used by postmen for protection. “We can give you plenty of instances where it has been the means of saving property and maybe life” they wrote. We now know that many whistles were subsequently supplied to the post office. In fact, Rule 24 of the ‘Rules for a Rural Postman’ went on to state that ‘He must carry a horn or loud whistle…to let the public know of his coming.’ Our records suggest that we first supplied whistles to the post office in 1902 but, given that the subject was first raised in 1885 we wonder if supply started much earlier? We may never know, but If any of you are able to shed any light on this, it would be much appreciated. We are my Lord Your Obedient Servants” With that, the Hudson’s signed off his letter in 1885.
Next are 1906 supplied 1907 & 8
These carry a 13 Barr St. Note NO DOT after Barr St.
In 1906 a LARGE order was made from Hudson and the whistles were supplied in 1907 and 8 The third from left is 1908.
NEXT are those from the LARGE order made in 1914 and whistles supplied 1915 & 1916
THESE WERE NUMBERED
The early 3 digits ones are 1914 (* early Batch with 2 Digits was ordered 1902)
Photo Numbered 126
with Small letters of GPO
As a rule of thumb; we see the 4 Digits numbered 4 digits
1000 – 4000 are 1916, all scarce.
3 Digits Numbered.
The earlier 3 Digits started1914 Number 126 is the earlier one noted,
It has an unusual small Font G.P.O , at number 331 we already see 1915 Issue.
(1915 Straight patent and dot after 244 And maybe blank top, (1914 may or may not have patent stamp on cap).
For those who wonder how we get this exact year dates here is a table from whistlecollection, note the red marks to establish year.
There is an example of 1914 without a number from 1915 it may had been earlier that year before numbering .
Number 331 Is 1915
4 Digits Numbered, number 1000s & 2000s ,
are all 1916 Issue. So is the 3000s 4000s Series.
4 Digits 2000s Series 244 Dot Barr St. on 1916 ones.
Numbered # 2013 was ordered 2015 and issued 2016
There are whistles of the same date 2016 numbered 3000 and 4000.
As a rule of thumb; ALL 4 Digits numbered 4 digits
1000 – 4000 are 1916, all scarce.
GPO two piece top 244 Barr st. Pre Numbered Series. 1914 But no number,
SO IT SEEMS 1914 they started with unnumbered andd laterthat year made few as £126 with a different small logo. (Up to no 200s or so)
Later on in 1915 they ordered more which were numbered and supplied 1916.
The whistle was mistaken for 1922 but 1914 whistles the cap was blank. 1915 -1922 Stamped again some people may confuse whistles for being post 1922
I found just one 1922 to 1930 by Hudson, Note different M.P than previous photo.
I am not clear yet as to this era there may had been a pause, Certainly a Pause between 1917 to 1922
DeCourcy made few his 1918 Patent used up to 1927 of one piece top is in photo with 3 others.
Next one is 1930 -37
Here is 1938-9 dated one, as there is and underline before Hockley in stamp.
(Thanks whistle collection for refining date)
It is uncertain when the custom of blowing an alert upon postman arrival stopped but we can assume by the late 1980s it had stopped .
( ‘Rules for Postmen’, printed in 1975, were still with the instruction ‘A whistle to be used for letting the persons on his walk know of his approach, especially on his inward journey’.)
The Importance of STAMPS to identify the DATES on whistles is by FAR more accurate and reliable system when compared to the the very General old way of dating by addresses which at timess proves wrong. It enables us to identify the EXACT year on many whistles, (Of cource inner construction inner stamps and other factors are a great tool not to be overlooked)
Now here is a DOUBLE STAMPED Hudson, which shows that the stamps we see are sometimes constructed fro FEW STAMPS.
There are more instances of Double Stamps on Hudson’s whistles.
And we identified they were stamped on Mondays) This one is 1907 , Monday.
The photo is from Ivan Gamsby & his son Luke who is 12 and Collects – we encourage and need young collectors.
Last note; This was the outline rough draft for the full article, there is still more ground to cover and research Out line and subjects for the full article, some mentioned.
British Postal History General
Makers – Manufacturers
Dating of Button whistles various makers
Dating of T.N.Ts-Two Tube whistles (Also known as GSW-General Service Whistles)
J. Hudson & Co. later named Acme whistles Ltd.
G.P.O Numbered TNT’s (GSW)
Alfred De Courcy
J. R. Gaunt & Son
Bent & Parker
I would like to Thank members of the whistles & Sifflets closed FB group,
Thanks fC. Mathison for photo of 331 and thnks F. Rodrigue for new Photo of GPO 70
Special thanks to ‘Whistlecollection‘ for Brain Storming discussion & help.
We appreciate any comments or sending us Photos.
The British Postal Museum & Archive blog
The Postal Museum
All rights reserved A.Strauss 2021-2