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.

Aug 11, 2014

The Magic Nose Flute in Ellisdon's catalogs

While Johnson Smith was the most prefered novelty catalog in the US (hosting Humanatone and Magic Flute ads), Ellisdon's was its equivalent in the UK.

Ellisdon's catalog cover in the 1930/40's and the 1950's:
The nose flute proposed by Ellisdon's was the Magic Nose Flute, other name for the Humanatone or, more likely, of the Humanaphone, which was the British make of the Humanatone (this is just an hypothesis, but we are convinced of its reality, notably because of the visits of G. Stivers in London, etc.) Why do we write Humanaphone? Because the Humanaphone was stamped "ALL BRITISH MAKE", and the Magic Nose Flute — as drawn in the Ellisdon's early catalog — show a BRITISH MAKE stamping. Anyway, this stamping has disappeared in the 1950's ads. Is it significant of a change in the nose flute manufacturing? What's sure, is that it could correspond to the Humanatone Co. sale by the Stivers to Fred Gretsch. And also, it is certain that the change was intentional, since it is the original drawing that has been modified (and not a new drawing that would have neglected this stamping detail).

Another interesting point is the texts are absolutely the same, excepted for one sentence that does not exist anymore in the 1950's version: « It is made entirely of metal ». Since the modification did not gain a line of text (it's not a typo/lay out need), what is the reason of this correction? Wasn't the 1950's Magic Nose Flute made in metal? Again, we remember that the Humanaphone was *also* the first plastic nose flute. Did Ellisdon's propose a plastic Magic Nose Flute?

[EDIT]: Indeed! Our friend and reader Steven Parkes confirmed his "Ellisdon's" nose flute from 1950's was... a Schwan!

1930/40's advertisement:

1950's advertisement:

The same advertisement — with a renewed presentation text however — is continuously used in the 1960's. Then the ad disappeared.

Here on the back page of the comics Marvelman #3 (1959) and in the 1965 Ellisdon's catalog:


  1. Again, a great find. I am sure your hypothesis is correct. All we need now is an original plastic Humanaphone to turn up. I never expected an 1899 Couchois whistle to emerge (let alone two), so why wouldn't this one?

    1. Oh, it would be great! But could celluloid resist a century or so?

  2. Wow, Antoine! You've found the old advert in the Ellisdon's catalogue from which I ordered my first 'Magic Nose Flute' as a child, back in the 1950s! I notice that the older ads say it is made of metal - while the 1950s-onwards ads miss that bit out! That's because mine was blue polystyrene with a pale yellow fipple front - no wonder it soon got broken!

    1. Hello Steven! What you're telling is very interesting! You're a good carver, so you're certainly a nice draughtsman:please could you make a little painting or drawing with colors of your old Magic Nose Flute? (because I suppose you don't have it got anymore...).