This SPOTLIGHT looks at split level windows in whistles. Not a new concept as research indicates it dates back to at least 1899 in the USA and likely earlier in the UK with Coney and Co. The requirements for this to work is not just changing the window heights. There has to be internal alterations of the diaphragm to match. This makes the whistle more expensive and therefore higher quality by nature. Not many models are known or at least have not been recorded, so here we will look at some 5 examples. First up is a look back to a known patent by F.L. Johnson from the USA. an American inventor who held several patents for whistles. He was located in Wallingford, Connecticut. Connecticut was a real hotspot for whistle manufacturers and patents circa 1880-1900. This split level dates to 1899. Note how the drawing shows the internal adjustments to the diaphragm. It will be interesting to see if this design was used in Germany or France in their pre 1900 productions in time. ( The Nick Harris looks to be possibly German made, although distributed in the USA, like many Municipal stamped police models )
Coney ( UK ) made a very high quality whistle with split level windows circa 1900 (?). No patent information is known at this time, although Coney held several patents of corkscrews. They also stamped PATENT on a split level whistle,but no patent information has been found. It is difficult to date the split level window Coney GSW, so for now we will date it circa 1900. On page 93 of Collecting Police Whistles by Martyn Gilchrist a good drawing can be seen under Diaphragm X to see the soldering work. Then go to page 81 and look at an example. The mouthpiece and top rings are distinct in identifying Coney. Shown is an example from The Whistle Gallery reference collection. The cuts come clear into the window edges so as to reach the diaphragm making the window width as extreme as possible. The windows are thinner than many GSWs.
Next up is a confusing clone by Coney & Hudsonboth mentioned in Martyn's book on page 81. The tone is slightly deeper and the two notes surprisingly even more distinct than the clearly stamped Coney Alarm. The Cuts to the windows are not as wide and do not extend all the way to the furthest reaches on the window capability. Perhaps that is lending to the tone difference. Both are stamped Coney's Alarm. However this one has T.E.Thompson & Co. Ld. and Calcutta.
It’s always important to be researching our whistles and occasionally updating what we learn. Here is an example of our confision and therefore some necessary updating. On page 81 of Collecting Police Whistles in the side notes it mentions in regard to Coney’s Alarm that after Hudson bought them out they produced Coney whistles — with the stamp T.E.Thompson & Co. Ltd Calcutta. Now the only apparent difference would seem that Coney left out the ‘t’ in Ltd. in their own stamp and the whistles otherwise looked alike. So ther are two split level T.E. Thompson whistles with different stamps by Coney and Hudson manufactured one ( with Coney parts ? ), but with a letter added is all.
- Coney’s Alarm
- T.E.Thompson & Co. Calcutta Ld.
- T.E.Thompson & Co. Calcutta Ltd.
What do the two whistles look like ? Further research shows that Martin was spot on !! If you turn to page 41 there is the HUDSON version of the Coney split whistle design. Goes to show you what a fantastic job that he did and how many times you can go through his book and learn !!! Presented here is a Hudson made Coney design Coney's Alarm made according to the split level design, but with the Hudson patented two piece top that Hudson designed. The mouthpiece is also rolled and not cast and quite distinctive of Coney's 'elevated' top ring
After this we will break down the differences with close ups of the tops and the mouthpieces. You can see easily the cast top on the left from the original Coney and the two piece top on the right from Hudson’s application on a flat top. The high neck that was Coney’s hallmark is now lost for the sake of easier and more economical production due to the changing times in whistle manufacturing.
Next we look at the changed mouthpieces…
The cast Coney is easily recognizable on the left and the ‘rolled’ Hudson — that is a machined mouthpiece on the right. Hopefully this will advance our understanding and of course makes more sense that the actual whistles would certainly have changed at some point using up aquired parts after being bought out by Hudson circa 1900.
Next out of the USA came a heavy, bulky version with split level windows. It was made to promote the Ed Harris detective agency. We wrote them to try to find out who made the whistle for them ( from their records ) but were kindly put off for now. It appears and feels heavy. Coney weighs in at 37kg while the Hudson's made ones comes to 39kg. However the Nick Harris weighs in at a whopping 57kg !! 20kg more than the Coney. Seeing how the mouthpiece and top ring are actually made out of lead it is not surprising !!! This whistle should never had been made of lead and then put in the mouth. The sound is much more shrill than the other two. Neither Coney nor Hudson utilized tines up from the disc along the partition edges to contact the tube side walls for support, but the Nick Harris uses extended tines on both sides. All three appear to be cast mouthpieces and top rings. Lastly this example shows much less variation in the window positioning, lending to the closer more shrill sound
We will finish by looking at a very unusual model found in the USA made entirely of machined brass parts. Weighing in at 40kg, it is closer to the originals we started with. The levels are well split and the sound comparable. Interestingly the top ring is machined in one direction to make the cap and then machined in the other direction to make the ring. The ring rests high up on the top cap like a Coney does. Moving to the mouthpiece we see it is clearly machined inside and out leaving a slightly larger opening. Looking inside is where the real surprise is found. The diaphragm disc and partition are actually riveted together twice to hold the partition together. First time we have seen this done.
Now let's compare the last four together. you will see fairly similar lengths, however some variations in the windows, especially the Nick Harris. The sounds are directly proportionate to these levels. However the construction is similar. The only news being the riveted model from the states.
Just for fun take a peek at this four window whistle from Germany. Inside the diaphragm is divided into four levels yet the windows are at the same level. It does not carry the sound that the actual window splitting does.
TWG Posted July 8, 2012