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.

Oct 1, 2014

A Beautiful Early Humanatone

I recently had the great luck to acquire an old tin Humanatone, with its box and user manual. They are in very nice condition, regarding their old age. The nose flute is a chromed model, and its shiny coating (after some ultrasound cleaning) appeared to have kept its integrity in all of its beauty. The box has missing side flaps and is a bit worn on the edges, but has still its beautiful sticker on the top. And finally, the user manual, which was a bit wrinkled, shows a great conservation condition, after a soft ironing session.

The nose flute itself is beautiful. It's an early Stivers' era tin Humanatone in its whole beauty. The chrome plating is in a very great condition, with very few traces of corrosion (mostly in the nose rest).

The stampings are crispy, show the usual patent numbers, and are of the type "Trade Humanatone Mark" (meaning the mention 'Trade Mark" is symmetrically split on each side of the name Humanatone), contrarywise to later Humanatones, which wears a "Trade Mark Registered" line under the brand. It is also stamped with "Other Patents Pending" (which never will be registered...)

This Humanatone stampings, compared to two later models:
The other remarkable point is the shape of the two flaps which hold the rivets on the sides of the airway. Here, they are shaped like the tip of an ice cream stick (prolongated half disc), with a nice little dome rivet in the middle. I am not totally sure, but I think this is the second type of flap: the original one would have been the rounded rectangular one ("bolster" shape, with 2 rivets) and the later one (the most usual), half pear shaped (1 rivet).

This Humanatone flap, compared to the bolster shape (earlier?) and the pear shape flap:
But contrarywise to both rounded rectangle and half pear shape, the rivets ends are visible on the other side of the nose flute:

Last detail on this Humanatone: a little hole above the nose saddle. I am not able to tell if it is original or was made by the nose flute owner. The fact is I have never seen such a hole on another Humanatone, and when some people drilled or punched out their flute in order to pass a neck cord, they generally did it at the bottom of the mouth shield.

Despite its missing side flaps, the box is beautiful, with its gorgeous sticker applied on a grained paper. It is absolutely similar - a small detail and the color excepted - to the one we published here, but should be a little later, since the Humanatone contained in this other box was of the "bolster flap" type. Also, this earlier burgundy color box was printed with "Style No. 20" and "Price $1.00" :

This Humanatone box, compared to the earlier (?) one:

The user manual, as said above, is in great condition. It is a 5½ by 10¼ inch document, printed on one side only, contrarily to a later user manual (1920s?) that we published here.

This user manual, compared to a later (double-side printed) one:
The user manual is interesting at least on two points. First, it shows a little engraving of a woman playing a nose flute... which is a Magic Nose Flute! This drawing directly comes from the 1903 Magic Flute advertisement, being another evidence of a continuum from this early nose flute and the Humanatone (Couchois (?) having sold the brand and patents to the Stivers).

Detail of this user manual, compared to the 1903 Howe catalog Magic Flute ad:

Another detail is important. On this user manual (contrarily to other ones or boxes), the "Humanatone M'F'G Co." address is specified: 15 Ann Street. Booom! We know that the Stivers moved from 15 Ann Street to… 35 Ann St. in 1911 (see here), a small step for Geo. Stivers, one giant leap for nose flute historic research: we are able to date this chromed Humanatone.

This nose flute is prior to 1911, and posterior to 1905. Indeed, the trade mark design, with the heraldic lion rampant dates of Apr. 18, 1905 (filing the trade mark by J.J. Stivers). 1905-1911 is the time frame during which the nose flute was produced, but I guess the reality is in the second half, since, as shown above, there was a different model produced before this nose flute, but having the same lion logo. So, our shiny Humanatone should date of ±1908-1911, more or less...(but not more:)