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 6, 2013

The Ocariflute through its advertisements

Back to the Ocariflute, with advertisements, in order to precise dates.

The Ocariflute was invented in 1922 or 1923, and was presented to the Concours Lépine in September 1923, where his inventor, Achille Brilhault, won a silver medal.

The first ads I found were published in 1926, in two novelties catalogues, l'Echo de la Gaîté française et le Record du Rire. As you can see in the first one, the instruent is called Ocariflute (and not Oclariflute as it had been in the music instruments catalogues). But in the second ad, there apparently was a mistyping, and the flute is named "Orariflute". The nose flute is sold for 3 Francs in both books.

in 1927, the ad in the Echo de la Gaîté française is axactly the same, but the price has raised to 3 Francs 60 centimes.

In 1929, both ads have been re-composed. The text and price of the first one have not been changed (despite a typo problem in the name), but the advertisment was "downgrade" from page 7 to page 125. However, a line on the side of the page says « All the success novelties are launched by the "Ca é Française" » (with a typo problem in the word "Gaîté"). It means the Ocariflute is still regarded as a "success novelty".
The second one (in Record du Rire)has been totally renewed in a half page, with a huge title, a much longer description, and a price lowered to 3 Francs 50.

In 1930, the price is unchanged in the Echo de la Gaîté française, but the ad has again be re-organized, and downgraded again to page 395.

The 1932-33 ad in the Record du Rire got a new lay-out, and the price has increased to 4 Francs! (a bit less than the equivalent of 2 kilos of bread)

In 1936, there is no more ad for the Ocariflute in the Echo de la Gaîté française, but there's one left in the 1936-37 catalogue of the Record du Rire. The instrument is still sold 4 Francs, again with a renewed lay-out.
It seems it's the end of sales for the Ocariflute.

In conclusion, The Ocariflute was launched in 1923 and sold until 1937. During those honorable 14 years, the price increased by 25%, from 3 to 4 Francs (for the nickeled model). Was it a consequence of the 1929 crisis? Well, if one looks to the french rates, inflation increased from 1923 to 1930 (with a peak of 31,6% just for 1926!!) and then decreased (deflation) from 1931 to 1935, then took off again to tops! So the Ocariflute constantly increasing price was not directly correlated to it. But between 1930 and 1935, there was a huge activity decrease. So, it's very bizarre that an instrument that was not new, got a regurlarly increasing price until it disappeared.


  1. I really like the comparison that you make, particularly at a time when Europe was in crisis, money was tight and people had to make ends meet even to put food on the table... It certainly looks like they outpriced themselves as they constantly kept the price high whilst other products went down in price... What motivation was behind that decision?

    I think it would be interesting to compare the prices of the Ocariflute with the other "jazz" instruments of the day through time. I remember seeing a catalogue with prices in one of your earlier posts: are there any other? Did they also have a similar price development? How do they relate? Were there any of those instruments or brands that also were in decline until they eventually disappeared?

    How were sales of musical instruments in those days anyway? Did pianos, violins or guitars sell at all? Despite the financial struggle, I can still imagine that people would turn to music for consolation and entertainment in the comfort of home...

    I think 14 years is still a pretty decent run for a "gadget". The thing is that at the time it probably was only or mainly regarded as a musical "jazz" instrument. Can you confirm that with the introduction of the plastic nose flutes it was considered more of a novelty than an instrument?

    Do you actually sell bread by the kilo in France? In the Netherlands bread is usually sold by the loaf, with an average weight of 800 grammes... So the price of 4 Francs in 1932-1933 would equate to 2 loafs anyway. Interestingly, the high price of 2 Florins in The Dutch Indies according to one of your previous posts would equate to about 22 Euros in modern money! With an average price of 2 Euros per loaf nowadays, a nose flute in the Indies of the early 1920s would equate to 11 loafs of bread!


  2. Hello Maikel,

    Well, we are not used to measure bread by kilos, but that's the figures I found... I cannot check in musical catalogues, because I have no sequences of them through years. But I will check with other little instruments in the same novelty catalogues.