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.

Nov 7, 2012

Marius Amiel: a french patent from 1908

December 19, 1908, Marius François Jean-Marie Amiel filed a patent for a « Sifflet autophone imitant le son de la flûte » ("Autophon whistle imitating the flute sound"). The document was registered March 15, 1909, and published May 27, 1909 [FR398,148].

What a surprise and a disappointment to realise that the Amiel's patent is a simple and pure copy of 1899 Couchois' one! The nose flute has the same shape and this cannot be coincidental. What is "funny" however, is that Amiel corrected some Couchois' drawing mistakes (the labium exagerated height for instance).

First; Amiel's design, and then, Couchois'one:

This french patent is interesting though... Indeed, it means that Couchois' flute was undoubtedly produced, and with the shape of the patent. It had not been the "Chicago flute", since it was much later, but probably the "missing link" between the Chicago nose flute (1893) and the Stivers' Humanatone/Magic Nose Fute (1903).
Was it distributed in Europe? Probably not. It is more likely that Amiel met the nose flute during a travel to New York City.

Thanks to Christian Steinbrecher for helping finding this piece of nose flute history!


  1. What a find! Thanks again to Herr Steinbrecher!

    This absolutely is a copy of the Couchois nose flute. What I cannot believe is that Mr Ariel filed a patent as if it were his own design and that he even dared to state the word "unique" on the document!

    I have a few questions:

    How does this prove that the Couchois flute was actually made? Couldn't Mr Ariel simply have seen and copied the patent file? Also, could you explain in what way this one would be the missing link between the 1893 and the 1903 nose flutes?

  2. Yes, Mr Amiel did some kind of counterfeit. He was not alone in the nose flute patents history.

    Well, certainly Mr. Amiel could have only seen the Couchois' patent... For that, you had to go to New York patent office and ask for seeing, let's say, "any new patent for musical instrument". It's a possibility.
    But there is just more chances (just because it's easier) to have visited one or another big world fairs (Buffalo 1901 for instance) or even have been to Coney Island (where Mr Couchois was supposedly have been seen as a fakir...), have bought the nose flute and copied it.
    Any info about this Marius Amiel would probably help, but I didn't find (But I found several Amiel as transatlantic passengers in those years).

    About the "missing link", yes, I misused the words. What I wanted to say was: There was a nose flute in Chivago (the Nasalette already called Humanatone??). Then Couchois patented a nose flute with one of the characteristics of the Nasalette (the mouth tube) and one of the posterior Stivers Humanatone (the nose shield). I should not have said "missing link" but "intermediate" or "linking flute" ...