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.

Oct 26, 2012

Much more about the Swan!

One month ago, Mr. Christian Steinbrecher, a mandolin expert, providentially sent us a copy of the "Swan nose flute" patent, and it finally became possible to date precisely and to locate the original Swan fabrication. More, we discovered the names of the manufacturers, Mr. Weidlich and Mr. Lohse (please check this post).

I followed up on the new data, and found some biographic elements that I wasn't totally sure to be certainly attributable to the right persons. The question was notably when the nose flute production ceased in Göttingen.

I contacted the Göttingen Archive Office ( and had the luck to get in relation with Herr Rolf Kohlstedt, a real gentleman, generous of his time, who considered my quest with interest and did a huge (and efficient!) research work. Mr. Kohlstedt also allowed me to quote the mails he sent. Our warmest gratitude goes to him and to the Göttingen Stadt-Archiv Office.


So, we had discovered that the Swan nose flute had been produced since 1955 by the Weidlich und Lohse Musikwahrenfabrik, a company settled An der Lutter 408, Weende-Göttingen, and specialized in the production of plastic musical instruments, but also in repairing accordeons, bandoneons and concertinas. The company had registered 4 patents in a short lapse, between the end of 1954 and Spring 1955. The logotype was the famous swan, still visible on the current "Swan nose flutes".

Formerly, we had shown (check this series of posts) that the plastic Nasenflöte had known 3 different productions, the current one being processed in China and distributed by GEWA and/or Arnold Stölzel.


Mr. Kohlstedt found and sent me "some registration data of the families Weidlich and Lohse":

« Kurt Weidlich (born November 29th 1899 in Brunndöbra) and his wife Elisabeth (born June 26th 1901 in Klingenthal) in November 1953 moved from a emergency shelter in Rollshausen near Duderstadt to Weende, An der Lutter 408. This fact verifies that Kurt Weidlich was one of the founders of Weidlich & Lohse. January 26th 1954 the family took its home in Kaakweg 19 in Weende (Göttingen incorporated Weende later at July 1st 1964). Their daughter Irmgard lived in Göttingen, another daughter Liselotte worked as foreign correspondent in the USA. At that time at the home of family Weidlich lived Kurt Lohse, but I found no information about his relationship to Güntert Lohse.

« Günter Lohse (born September 18th 1919 in Nordhausen) at July 1st 1953 moved with his wife Erika to Kirchstraße 45 in Weende. Their daughter Sigrid was born 1954. Erika Weidlich (born  October 12th 1926 in Brunndöbra) was the oldest daughter of Elisabeth and Kurt Weidlich and married Günter Lohse at January 17th 1953. Obviously existed not only economic connections between the families Weidlich and Lohse, but also family ties: Günter Lohse was the son-in-law of Kurt Weidlich. I guess it is quiet clear, that Günter Lohse was the other founder of Weidlich & Lohse. »

"some" data? Exact dates and places! A bunch of info! The name of the village Brunndöbra immediately lit a bulb in my brains. Brunndödra, in Saxony, is a town in the neighbourhood of Klingenthal, near the Czech border.

Klingenthal and its surroundings, notably Brunndöbra, was the area specialized in accordions and harmonicas making! All the german accordions, bandoneons, concertinas, harmonicas shown in the catalogs published at the turn of the century (Meinel und Herold, Schuster & Co., Max Adler...) were made there (or in Markneukirchen, also located in the Vogtlandkreis district: Markneukirchen was mostly specialized in brass and strings instruments, and Klingenthal, in accordions and mouth harps).

Between 1844 and 1911, there were no less than 26 accordion manufactures which opened in Klingenthal, and 8 in Brunndöbra. And involved in the harmonica production, there were even more! Among them, one manufacturer retained all my attention: Otto Weidlich, who founded his company in 1873 in Brunndöbra.

From the 1883 Addressbuch:

Otto Weidlich produced fine accordions and harmonicas, some of them very innovative and "known for their originality of design, fine workmanship and tonal quality". From the early 1900s, the Weidlich instruments were sold in all Europe, and also in the USA and Canada by Gratz, a New York City distributor.

In the catalogs, it's more common to find the Weidlich instruments named by the brands the manufacturer had registered: Empress, Orchestrion, The Pied Piper, Grand Solo...
Weidlich notably filed a trade-mark — not only in Germany but also in England [reg. March 22, 1883 (No. 31825)] — consisting of "a circle enclosing the words"HANDELS-FABRIK-MARKE", above a swan, which appears to be swimming on a tray of water bearing the words "TRADE MARK", and the motto "SEMPER SURSUM" ["always aim high"] on a ribbon"! Yes, a SWAN!

So, since as early as 1883 (and probably even earlier in Germany), there had been "Weidlich instruments" stamped with a swan. And more, the line of instruments was "officially" called "Schwan". The original concertina boxes wore a label in the lid : « Nur die mit gesetzl geschutzter Schwan-Marke eingebrannten Concernas sind die echten. [the logo] Only concertinas with the registered Swan Trade-Mark are genuine and originals »

Here is the mark stamped on concertinas:

This ad from 1929 shows a logo very near the Göttingen one, with a real circle drawn around the bird:

Why did Otto Weidlich choose a swan as his emblem (despite the meaning of the "swan song", beautiful but ultimate, according to the ancient belief)? I don't know. But what is sure, is that some of his local competitors had also chosen an animal as a trade-mark:

According to Doug Smith, a collectible expert, « The company was never large or particularly successful, and at times it made instruments for bigger manufacturers, including Hohner, the industry leader. Even during the early ’30s, when harmonica sales were at their peak, Weidlich experienced financial difficulties. Not surprisingly, its plant closed for good shortly after the end of World War II. »

I have not found yet a proof that Otto Weidlich was related to Kurt Weidlich (Grandson?), founder of the Göttingener Weidlich & Lohse.

On this 1909 addressbook page (provided by Mr. Christian Steinbrecher), one can read "Otto u. Paul": Was Paul Otto's son? And would Kurt have been Paul's son?

The link seems obvious though, from Brunndöbra to Weende, working in the same business (accordions), and using the same trade-mark. The nose flute makers also used the name "Schwan" for their product line. Mr. Kohlstedt found an advert in Weende Gestern und Heute, published in 1958 (just text, no picture):

Weidlich & Lohse
Herstellung von Musikspielwaren und Spielwaren aus Kunststoff
Unsere „Schwan“-Artikel sind in allen einschlägigen Geschäften erhätlich


Weidlich & Lohse
Music ware factory
Manufacturing of music-toys and plastic-toys
Our “swan”-products are available in all relevant shops


I found many addressbook entries with a "Kurt Weidlich", noted as "kaufmann" (merchant/agent), in different places of the Vogtlandkreis, but there certainly were several different "Weidlich, Kurt, kfm.". Indeed, the first entry I found, reporting a merchant, dates of 1910, in Zwickau. And in 1910, "our" Kurt Weidlich was only 11.

Mr. Kohlstedt found that Günter Lohse was Kurt Weidlich's son-in-law, having married Kurt's daughter Erika on 17th of January, 1953. As stated by Rolf Kohlstedt, « Kurt Weidlich (...) and his wife Elisabeth (...) in November 1953 moved from an emergency shelter in Rollshausen near Duderstadt to Weende, An der Lutter 408 ».


The Weidlich & Lohse Musikwarenfabrik was settled in Weende at An der Lutter 408, at the end of 1953 or beginning of 1954. A new road was build since, and the buildings have been renumbered. But Mr. Kohlstedt was able to tell me that « "An der Lutter 408” correlates to the current address “An der Lutter 24”. (...) Built 1937 as artillery barracks, the buildings after World War II turned into a hospital, the Evangelisches Krankenhaus Göttingen-Weende (Evangelic Hospital Göttingen-Weende), and already exist. »

Indeed, the plot is unbuilt on this 1936 aerial view, and in 1971 the hospital was occupying the former artillery barracks:

Photos from

The hospital in the 1955's, in the 1960's, and nowadays:

On this page, we learn that the site became an annex of the Buchenwald camp from Feb. 1945, with prisoners used in the building construction of the SS cavalry school. The website also displays a map showing the buildings settlement. Thanks to this map, I made a collage upon the current aerial view:

(In red, the original buildings still in use, and in green the buildings that were skimmed over)

Mr. Kohlstedt gave details:
« 1950 the hospital took place in the barracks, later became the owner of the buildings and intended to enlarge them. Until the expansion of the hospital in south existed some riding stables and other houses, which were used by several small companies in the 1950s. (...) Weidlich & Lohse possibly was located in that area near the other companies and not in the current hospital buildings, but I can’t verify this suggestion anyway. »

I totally understand Rolf Kohlstedt's cautiousness. However, the W&L address was An der Lutter 408, and in the 1950s, the four former barracks were already occupied by the hospital. So, it is logical that the W&L building was in the South part of the block, in one of the military buildings still existing at that time. I suppose the Zimmermannstraße didn't already exist in 1954 (it seems like being in a building state on the 1971 picture), else the "An der Lutter" address would have focused on one of the three buildings immediately South to the hospital)

Anyway, I made a trip to Göttingen in order to take some pictures of the small building still existing (the small red one at the bottom-right on the picture above). Indeed, it might have been the W & L workshop, or at least, since all this buildings were built on the same model, it shows how the Schwan factory looked like...


About the Weidlich & Lohse Musikwarenfabrik, Mr. Kohlstedt added this precious info:

« At last I found an exchange of letters between Weidlich & Lohse and the municipality. 1954 Weidlich & Lohse described itself as company with 25 employees and a volume of sales about 15.000,00 DM a month, one third as export goods to Western Europe, Africa and South America. Other consumers were department stores, for example Karstadt. In this year Weidlich & Lohse planned a removal from Weende to Göttingen and searched buildings in a new industrial area, because meanwhile the Bundeswehr intended to re-use the barracks (but never realized that). Nevertheless Weidlich & Lohse stayed in its rooms  “An der Lutter” and in May 1959 the administration recognized that Weidlich & Lohse was not interested for a settlement in Göttingen anymore. »

We already presumed that the W&L company had been a short story (indeed, there are so few traces of it, that it could not have been a multi-decade enterprise). But, once again, crossing data from addressbooks, Mr. Kohlstedt was able to draw a precise time frame:

« The address book 1953 with no entries for Weidlich, Lohse or Weidlich & Lohse was edited in March 1953, the address book 1956 in February 1956 and the address book 1960 in April 1960. Unfortunately the address book 1956 declared just “Geschäftsmitinhaber” without any company. The address book 1960 mentions Kurt Weidlich only as “Kaufm.”, an abbreviation for Kaufmann (merchant), and Günter Lohse similarly as “Kaufm.” and “Filter- und Industriewatte-Großhandlung” (filter- and industrial cotton wool wholesale trade). In the address book of 1962/63 I found no company for both. »


« All things considered, it seems to me that Weidlich & Lohse started at the end of 1953 or the beginning of 1954 and quitted at the end of 1959 or the beginning of 1960, but I found no reason why. »

Then, what happened? The only documents I found deal with Günter Lohse and regard his demise, on 1st of January, 2012. I learned in the announcement that Günter was diplomed of economy, and that he lately was a car dealer.


Where and when did Kurt Weidlich or Günter Lohse had heard about nose flutes? It was probably in Brunndöbra. In the 1930s, there is a catalog of a Brunndöbraer manufacture which proposes a Nasenflöte. Paul Brunner, manufacturer of "toy trumpets, nickel horns, whistles, flutes, Jazz-flutes, etc.", sells a nose flute among his "Jazz-articles and Flutes" section. The instruments on the page seem all to be self-produced by "Pabru", but the nose flute is the exact same model that the one pictured in any german catalog of that time. Was Paul Brunner its producer? Probably, because he was the maker of his other kazoos and flutes... The thing is that he was installed Auerbacher Str. 23F in 1925, while the Weidlich family worked at number 35C: 6 houses from there, on the same sidewalk. (Big thanks to Christian Steinbrecher for having sent us this document!):


The question is now to find who bought the Swan nose flute patent — and the plastic injection mould – and when this happened.


Once again, all my gratitude to the Göttingen Stadt-Archiv, and specially to Mr. Rolf Kohlstedt, who generously spent a bunch of time making a precise research.


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



  1. Another major step forward in revealing the history of the nose flute! I love the old logos of W& L and its competitors. How bizarre to learn about the history of the site as well... Great persistent work again and sehr vielen Dank to Herr Kohlstedt!

    Such a shame that the person who must have worked on the plastic nose flute no longer is amongst us...

  2. Thank you Maikel!

    Well, regarding the "history of the site": I thougfht it was necessary to mention it, but I didn't want to focus about it, since it is totally off topic, and I wouldn't like to create a false, artificial and unfair background (some would say a "bad karma") for the Schwan Nasenflöte.

    PS: Mr. Christian S., after having read the artile, sent me new pieces that I have added in the middle (regarding "Otto und Paul" and at the end of the article.

  3. Vielen Dank to Herr Steinbrecher! It seems as if the pieces are falling into place here: the link with Brunndöbra appears to be obvious now. The nose flute from the catalogue looks exactly the same, indeed. So: the "Swan" obviously wasn't produced by "W&L" at all! "W&L" probably were the 1950s' equivalent of present companies Gewa and Stolz.

    It is a revelation to see that the plastic "Schwan" actually dates from the 1930s! Was it made from plastic at that time already? I am very keen on finding that one out: when was the very first plastic nose flute produced?

    On a time scale, it makes sense that this model is from the 1930s, considering the various German metal models of the same shape from the 1920s, particularly the one from the Piet Visser collection.

    That would mean it pre-dates the "Simmy", wouldn't it? Therefore, the "Simmy" probably was a spin-off of the "Schwan", explaining why some features are so totally similar. The Simmy actually looks 1950s though: I can imagine that its designers wanted to create a more "modern" look.

  4. Oh, I will publish a post about the "german metal nose flute". As far as I know, and despite several "models", it seems there was only ONE maker, since the picture in the catalog is ALWAYS the same one. I would need to know if Paul Brunner (Brunndöbra) produced himself his noseflutes. But it seems that the berliner one was the only one.

    No, it was not in plastic, but in tin plate, a kind of copy of the Humanatone, dating from around 1914, Berlin. For sure, it's obvious that the Schwan was a plastic descendant of this "original" german nasenflöte.

    The very first plastic nose flute was produced in England, as far as I know, before (but around) 1930 : the Humanaphone had a declination in "celluloid".

    If you mention polystyren, the first one is the Humanatone, in 1943. In germany, it's the Schwan, in 1955 (in the case that Simmy was not German...)

    Simmy is a very particular case, since we don't know nothing about it. It looks anterior to the Schwan, but who knows? What is sure is that Weidlich came in Weende in 1953 and that the W&L fabrik dates of end of 53/beg. 54. It means they had no time to produce another noseflute prior the Schwan. I deeply doubt that a plastic nose flute had been produced in Bruundöbra. So, the Simmy and the Schwan are not tightly linked together (but one might have been a copy of the other). Anyway, we even don't know if Simmy was german...