This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Sep 30, 2012

"Swan logo"... Identity revealed!

The Swan logo is the "second most famous" nose flute in the world, just after the Humanatone. However, "nobody" knows exactly when it was launched, and even... it's name!

Several days ago, a very fine Austrian man, Mr. Christian Steinbrecher, contacted me because he was interested in a 1911 music instrument catalog I had bought. We discussed a bit and had a very good relation through e-mails. Christian is a mandolin lover, and conducts historic researches about his favorite instrument. I told him that my quest was nose flute oriented, and he sent me a file, adding « Probably you know this but for being on the safe side, I attaché it! »

The file was the Swan patent. Dear Providence!



Weidlich und Lohse were based in Göttingen, precisely in Weende (just besides the Göttingen University). The company was specialized in the production of plastic musical instruments, but also in repairing accordeons. I have not been able yet to find more info about Weidlich & Lohse, but I found (thanks to Mr. Steinbrecher), 3 other patents published by this manufacturer. All of them four were filed within 2 months.

The first one is a "Druckzylinder mit Stimmen und Federeinsatz als Sockel für Figuren mit beweglichen Teilen als Spielzeug", which can be translated in "Pressure cylinder with voices and spring use as a base for figures with movable parts as a toy". The item is a funny plastic duck which, according to the drawing, opens his mouth and has his hat jumping when the springed base is pressed.
The second one is a "Flaschenverschluss", that is, a simple bottle cap.

Then, Weidlich & Lohse filed 2 patents on the same day. Both are small musical instruments : the Nasenflöte, and a "Kreisrunder Hohlkörper zun hineinsingen aus Plastik" ("Circular hollow body item for humming, made in plastics"), let's say a circular kazoo, which was called the "Summophon".



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"We all" thought that the "Swan" was launched in 1958... Mistake! It was 3 years earlier :

On February 24, 1955, the Weidlich & Lohse Musikwarenfabrik sent the file to the German Patent Office in München, and it was recorded on the 1st of March. It was registered on the 29th of April with the number 1.698.951 and publicized May 18, 1955.



What is interesting is the object of the patent. For sure, Weidlich & Lohse wanted to patent a nose flute, but above all the new feature it provided : a flexible nose cap. Indeed, the title of the patent file is "Nasenflöte aus Plastik mit biegsamem Oberteil" ("Plastic Nose flute with flexible top part")



That is, approximately: "The subject to be registered is a nose flute. The flute is made of plastic, and it must in any case be blown with the nose. Above all, it comes with this instrument that the upper part (nose piece) is flexible. Thus, the technical innovation is characterized."

This innovation is provided "so that in each case, the opening is hermetically sealed.":



Very interesting, because as far as I know, there were no "Swan" nose flute with a particularly flexible nose cap...

Some technical drawings are provided after the description, and we can recognize the "Swan" flute as we know it :



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Identity and dates have been unveiled! Do not say "Swan from the 50s" anymore, but "Weidlich & Lohse, Göttingen, 1955". However, all the questions about this nose flute have not been answered yet. Notably regarding the current Chinese production.
And when did the Weidlich & Lohse Musikwarenfabrik stop its activities? When exactly did someone decide to relaunch the production? Who was that? Was it first in Germany, then in China, or immediately abroad?

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On the same topic :

- About the "Swan logo"... Part I
- About the "Swan logo"... Part II
- About the "Swan logo"... Part III
- "Swan logo"... Identity revealed!
- Much more about the Swan!
- Schwan Special Colors
- Vintage Schwan - Forensics and Dating

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4 comments:

  1. YES YES YES YES YES!!!!! Christian S.: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    Finally some information about the 'Swan' and at long last a name! At least that is something!

    I wonder if the removeable cap actually is an innovation, as stated: the Simmy, supposedly from 1952 so 3 years earlier, already showed a two-tone nose flute, made up of two parts: the body and the air duct cover. Apart from that: it is pretty difficult to remove the cap intact from the W&L-model (I have to get used to this!). It may be the Chinese rip-off model that is glued so heavily, though.

    Also, the cap is hardly flexible, if flexible at all and I really think that this also isn't any innovation whatsoever. How could the W&L model be recognised as an innovation to the existing instrument then? Please tell me if you know the answer!

    Looking at the cross-section of the patent drawing above, it strikes me that the cap could only fit the body snugly in one way. The straight front needs to create the edge that splits the air at the labium. The round hollow cover has to sit tightly into the nose rest in order to prevent any air leaking. This implies that the cap fits and could sit in one place only. Its rigid sealing certainly proves that no flexibilty of the air duct cover is possible.

    Interestingly, in the 1970s I used to have a few rubbery toys in the shape of an animal from the same manufacturer (or at least with the same logo as on the W&L nose flute) that made squeaky sounds when you squeezed them. The sound would come out of a specific hole in the base, that to my knowledge look very similar to the 'Summophon'.

    I remember noticing slight differences in the device belonging to each toy animal, subsequently producing different effects (by forcing air through this device), supposedly resembling the sounds that the represented animals make. I still have one white elephant, but there used to be a whole range containing a pigs, a bear, a duck and you name it.

    I am really looking forward to any additional information about this nose flute model that has been part of my life from 1979 onwards.

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  2. Yep, thank you Christian S.!

    Maikel : the flexible nose cap is not the part you talk about. The part that was supposed to be flexible is the part on which you place your nose, the oval "air collector". it was *supposed* to be flexible, and as I wrote in the post, it obviously was not!! They probably found it too difficult or too expensive to make it flexible (another kind of plastic, how to attach it, etc.). Or maybe they wanted to make the whole nose flute in a flexible plastic and didn't finally do it.

    So, the patent was registered with an innovation that has never been used!

    Anyway, there is no proof that the Simmy was german. No proof that the Simmy was patented. So, no proof at all that the Simmy was patented *in Germany*. (the W&L was patented only in Germany, not in... France or Spain...).

    The Summophon is a circular kazoo. And looks like a "kazoo chimney" part, containg the vibrating membrane.

    We all look for info about the Swan ...!

    All the best,

    Antoine

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  3. Dear Antoine,

    I see why the factory wanted to apply a flexible nose rest, as this way it becomes far easier to adjust the effect. Also, the nose doesn't hurt, as it doesn't matter if there is any cartilage in the way. A very interesting idea indeed, which must have been too difficult and expensive as you say!

    I hope a patent to the Simmy will also come to the surface in the near future!

    All the very best,

    Maikel

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  4. I would also hope to find a patent for the Simmy, but for that, it should have proposed an innovation... And there is no patent number stamped on a Simmy. (there is none neither on the W&L : indeed, they didn't used the innovation proposed by their patent!). The patents used were in the public domain (it's a 20 years protection duration), so they didn't need to refer using other patents.

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