How does one get started collecting whistles?
I can tell you that with us it was more of an accident than anything. We live on the west coast of the USA and traveled up and down the coast on vacations with our young children for years. We used to stop in at antique shops for breaks on the way. To give the kids something to do and occupy their minds, I thought about what we could have them look for and struck on whistles I saw in a case, mistakenly thinking that it would be an all-American collectible and that there wouldn’t be many. And after 25 years of asking and looking we had a small cabinet of 25 whistles.
Living in a young country and the youngest part of it really hampered us, but it was unknowingly. How the internet has changed that! We now have found thousands yearly and have over 700 whistles in our 'reference' collection —- with over 300 for sale or trade besides that!!!!
The three of us all help out. Whit does the designing of the website as well as creating files and such. I (if I can keep up with her) do the searching, studying and writing, and Deb does the packaging, mailing, and purchasing. It's really a team effort.
Who knew all the history and designs there were? As one collector told me, "Whistle collecting is one of the best kept secrets!"
I work full time as an electrician, so this is a hobby for us. We are now in our 5th year of serious collecting, buying and trading. So we do what we can. There are so many projects we would like to get to, but all in good time of course.
All of our whistles are displayed to see and go through quickly whenever we need to. In essence a wall hung filing system. My intention is to put together a website that is informational and fun. As there are too many makes and materials of whistles, we have chosen to stay with metal only, no tin. To be sure, there are plastic, horn, bone, ivory, hoof, wood, tin, pewter, silver, and the list goes on and on. Categories we rarely dabble in are teethers, rattles, silver, newer to new, and a few others that do still fall into metal whistles.
Some of our goals to tackle will be to periodically review and spotlight certain topics (as well as feature questions and requests you send in!).
Hopefully we will organize the pages so that they will be somewhat easy to navigate. To that effect Whit is constantly modifying the web pages. Your suggestions and comments are very welcome and invited. Some collectors would hoard information for their own benefit, but we feel that doing so would choke the hobby —- and the more that is shared, the more that will come out of this very interesting area of study and world history.
We also will be selling, trading, and buying through the site; even brokering collections. We welcome any offers for whistles, but please keep in mind that we are not a free pricing service for ones to sell their whistles somewhere else. Really trading in whistles is only for the purposes of studyin them and writing articles for everyone.
Besides all of this, we intend at some point to display our reference collection for everyone to be able to study and learn from.
On our website you will note that we will rarely use our personal names. Why you ask??
Let's think about it for a minute……..the thought occurs that this is a whistle website not a launch pad for personal glorification. We need to stay focused. So you won't see phrases like I discovered used profusely or discovered by myself. You won't see my name used repeatedly and the whistle secondarily. If you did, what would be the underlying point?? …….Precisely. However credit will always be given for what information is donated, which encourages communication as sources and resources.
Beyond that there is a need to address what we feel is a very important subject. What is an AUTHORITY?? In this electronic age it seems that this concept is being stretched beyond credibility. Why do we say that??
In the past experts who wrote on a subject were required to cite their references. This was called bibliography. Research papers were kept for the very reason of backing up everything written for reuse on a subject. So, in the process textbooks were created that became further citations for someone else. At times ideas were challenged or updated accordingly as research discovered further information and documentation followed. Ergo the word author can be extended to authority.
Now comes the electronic age and anything can be thrown up (sorry for the analogy) on the internet for the public at — no cost to the writer. Then misinformation is quoted — as if it is a verified source!!! Wikipedia abounds with examples galore — although their requirement is NO original material. Shall we now call it Wikiresearch?? To quote a friend, Martyn Gilchrist, a proven authority in the whistle field who has actually researched and written three books on the subject of whistles — when I asked about a curious whistle I was researching he said, “I don't think you really mean me to 'guess'! Rest assured I never guess about whistles."
So you will see us making every effort to cite references or have them ready at hand for verification means. We keep notes on ALL SPOTLIGHTS. We will not take liberties. No guesses. No assumptions. No jumping to conclusions. If we can't cite proof with either the actual whistle or a proven source that can be verified — we will not PRINT!!!! We want you to be able to use this site as a text for your own research, especially without books to be able to buy and highlight with a yellow marker!!!!
Because of the ongoing research you will hear statements like 'at this point, this is what we KNOW’
The same will go for dating of our whistles. There will be no exaggerated 'guesstimates' — we will always try our best to be conservative about how old a whistle is and stand corrected later. Our endeavor will be to follow the steps of Martyn Gilchrist in another way. We may say 'possibly' or 'probably' and then cite the reason why.
PLEASE!! Call us out on anything we slip up on – we appreciate helpful criticism and will quickly make corrections!!!
Please feel free to write us. — Len, Deb, and Whit.