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.

Feb 17, 2013

British archives

I didn't find much with the British newspaper research tools, but interesting facts and evidences for nose flute history.

The first mention I found is a classified ad recruiting two men for Humanatone demonstrations. Yes, Humanatones were apparently imported to Great Britain as soon as 1913!:

Liverpool Echo, Jan. 31, 1913:

In 1927, the Humanaphone, "all british make", was sold for 4 (old) pence and a half, as a Jazz instruent:

Hull Daily Mail, Oct. 3, 1927:

Was the Humanaphone a metal Humanatone copy, or a real Humanatone manufactured in Great Britain under license? What is sure is that it was the european nose flute the most similar to the american instrument. The differences with an early Humanatone look very tiny. Even the rivets and shape of the flap in which they are soldered are similar. Only the nose saddle edge looks a bit wider on the Humanaphone.


The North Devon Journal (05/25/1933) reported a Salvation Army musical festival, at the end of which the Captain Montgomery played his "Humanotone".

And finally, a 1938 Cheltenham advertisement selling nose flutes for an (old) sixpence the piece:

4½d in 1927 and 6d in 1938 represents a 33% increment in the price. We were surprised to notice a 25% augmentation between 1927 and 1936 in the price of the french Ocariflute (3FF to 4FF) [check the end of this post], but finally, the rise was comparable on the other side of the Channel.

1 comment:

  1. Those were the days: imagine now being paid to demonstrate the nose flute...! Again, very interesting, particularly the price and model comparisons.

    Apparently, the nose flute ended up as a festive season present in the UK, just like in the Netherlands. This probably marked the transition of the nose flute from a "jazz instrument" to a "toy".

    Oddly enough, the UK seems to have been (one of) the first to import the American nose flute, yet the nose flute hardly stuck in their collective memory... which is the case in the Netherlands.