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 8, 2013


If you're a regular reader, you may remember we already dealt with fakirs. Also called fakers, those street vendors, more or less honest, were looked at with suspicion. Remember how Garrett J. Couchois was discredited when a "witness" told to the Court having seen the piano seller and nose flute designer playing a Humanatone as a fakir.

Indeed, the early Humanatone, while sold by mail-order, were also largely distributed in the streets by the fakirs. George W. Stivers, whose sons founded the Humanatone Introducing Novelties Co., was called the King of fakirs, and was used to recruit hundreds of "agents" to sell his tin novelties.

But who were exactly the fakirs? How did they look like?
I found a full page of the San Francisco Chronicle on the subject, dated of Apr. 18, 1909. This period corresponds exactly to the full-charge marketing of the Humanatone. Indeed, the new-yorker company is named.

The pictures are great, and show the real street scenes and it's easy to imagine how the Humanatones were demonstrated and sold:

One paragraph of the article is dedicated to a "first-class merchant" working for the Humanatone Co. Unfortunately, there is no further mention of nose flutes:

There is also a photograph of this Humanatone agent:

The whole text is interesting and well written, thus I recomposed it in the case you want to read it in full.

1 comment:

  1. Important post about the background to the success of the nose flute in the early 1900s.

    This selling on the streets reminds me of the travelling shows in the Western US: bringing a product to the people.