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.

Sep 18, 2014

The Amazing Nose Flute

In 2005 (October 1), the Amazing Nose Flute was launched by Andrews McMeel Publishing. It was a little box containing a nose flute, a small book, 4 cards and a card holder, well designed with funny graphics. It was sold $6.99 in the USA, but apparently available in any country of the Commonwealth too. It should have met some commercial success, since it went out of stock, and the samples findable here and there (Amazon dealers) nowadays are very pricey (kind of $50 or more!).

The graphics design is pleasantThe nose flute itself is a simple Humanatone by Trophy Music, packed in its regular blister and so, no need to say more about it. The four cards are supposed to work as basic music sheets, with staff and notes on one side, and the song lyrics on the other. The songs are Shenandoah, Oh Susanna!, On Top of Old Smoky and Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

The book is a small 32 pages (+ cover) paperback booklet, with great illustrations. It contains a nose flute user manual (including troubleshooting section!), advices, anecdotes (gentle mixes of "urban" and "traditional" nose flutes) and... history facts.

The scanned pages that follow are copyrighted by Andrews McMeel Publishing. Their publication here is made on an informative purpose (book review and critics), and with no intention of infringement.
The booklet is pleasant, funny and well done. However, one page (P24) made me jump on my chair because I had dropped some hot tea on my pants!

So much nonsense per square inch! How could some redactor have written that ??

We know that the name Humanatone already existed in 1894 (even before), that plastic nose flutes appeared in the 1925s (the Humanaphone made in celluloid), that the shape of the plastic Humanatone was patented in 1940 (only) by Ernest Davis, that those plastic Humanatones were issued by Gretsch in 1943, and that the Humanatone nose flutes were launched probably by Garrett J. Couchois (who used the brand name), but surely then by the Stivers' Humanatone Introducing Novelty Co., who registered their brand in 1904, then 1905 (which had been "continuously used in [their] business since July 6th, 1903".

So, how could someone have written that ? : lazyness. Yes, "the rest is history", because this was not.

Indeed, there was a company which produced a "talking machine" (phonograph) called Humanatone, and which published its first advertisement in 1917 in the World of Talking Machines. Yes, the company was settled in New York (Brooklyn, actually). But it had nothing to see with the Stivers. The same "brand name", but not the same "trade-mark". And why would someone use the same name without using the same logo? Either you want to get the benefit of a reknown brand and you use both, or you don't and use none. If James J. Stivers had founded a talking machine company with the famous tin nose flute name, he would have used the regular Humanatone logo, designed by his brother George. Last, the Stivers weren't implanted in Brooklyn in 1917, but Ann St., Manhattan downtown.

OK, nobody knew those facts before researches, but when I don't know, I stay mute.

Please, Mr. McMeel, if you ever publish a second edition, please change this page 24!


  1. :-)

    Great to see such packaging, sad to see it applied to such a lousy version of the instrument. Fortunately we are seeing more and more fabulous designs containing proper versions of the instrument today.

  2. Yes, Maikel. 10 years have gone. Anyway, I think the Humanatone (as crappy as it has become) is a reference in the USA. Humanatone = nose flute = Humanatone.

    And yes : :-)

  3. what a nice find and funny drawings! And your text is not too long (nor too scientific:), great stuff, merci :)