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.

Jun 9, 2016

Humatune… addendum

After having posted yesterday's article, I incidentally found some pictures of a pair of Humatunes that have been sold on (it is always easier to find when you know what to look for...). Those were still packed in a cellophane envelope, and sealed by a paper header:

The first interesting thing is the price: 10c. It doesn't ascertain nothing, but comparison with other nose flutes (sold in groceries or so) may help to give a date:

1963: Snoot-flute - 10c.
1965+: Topps (Humanatone) - 19c.
1969: Bullwinkle's Hum-a-tune - 29c.

But all three were plastic made. So, a metal nose flute should have been more expensive, or, at 10c., on the market earlier. Thus, the Humatune should probably date of the 1950's.

The second interesting point is obviously the mention Packed by "Toy-Pak" .

It was not easy to find info about this company, but I finally did through... obituary notices!

Vancouver Sun (BC):

So, Toy-Pak was founded by Stuart and Mary Whitehouse, and was 'the first wholesale toy distributor for the grocery trade in BC'. So, Toy-Pak was located in British Columbia (CA), precisely 8455 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby (Eastern suburb of Vancouver):

Sorry, I didn't find bigger:

My first thoughts were that Humatune could have been the Humanatone brand for the Canadian market... But the seller of this pair of Humatunes was in California, and the seller of mine too!

Indeed, Pak-Toy seems to have had subsidiaries in Santa Maria, California, and in Stirling, Scotland:

The Humatune looks to date of the 1950s; anyway, Toy-Pak was still existing in 1976:

Squamish Times (BC), May 20, 1976:

And if...

... if Gretsch had simply bought the brand Humatune ?

Remember, the Hum-a-tune was a kind of circular kazoo that got a good fame in the 1930s (see here). Its production probably stopped with the WWII. But the brand was reknown...

I got a late sample likely from the early 40s [according to the Junket Rennet powder box (ad on the papers) which had changed in 1943], complete and I dare to say 'pristine':

And if you see well, whether the brand is written 'Hum-a-tune' on the papers, it is stamped without the dashes on the instrument itself:

So? It is just an hypothesis, but if Gretsch had bought the brand Hum-a-tune/Humatune, it would explain why the graphic chart of the Humantune is the same that the Gretsch one, but also details like the article 'the' in 'Humatune (The Nose Flute)'. Indeed, the people already knew Hum-a-tune the kazoo, and here came the nose flute. But why not Humanatone? It could have been either to differenciate the metal flute from the plastic one, but more likely to get the benefit of a brand known in a different sector of distribution than music resellers: the grocers.