In SPOTLIGHT number one we looked just a little at the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company ( i.e.. BGI ) bullet whistle, under American made production whistles prior to 1900. If you remember it was a production whistle, not a 'trench' whistle or handmade hobby whistle that some soldier or other put together while sitting back in some hole or trench. It is a high quality designed whistle and we would like to look into its designer and the subsequent production of it prior to 1900. The 601 had attributes of a round whistle with one window, but with the characteristic of a disc inside rather than a fipple at the mouthpiece.
C.D. Leet ( his son C.S.Leet would later follow with the model 601 ) laid the groundwork for these whistles by way of his business dealings in the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company formed 1878. Along with his other patents and witnessing signatures to various other company patents in Bridgeport that came over the next 15 years or so, was one he had patented (along with Hotchkiss ) — a shell cartridge (patent #98,278 ) ( dated that same year ) that was said to be improvement in the 'boxer' cartridge.
He had been making ammunition as early as 1862, doing so as a small manufacturer. In 1878 came another improvement in a cartridge that C.S. Leet was a witness for, patent #208,247 dated Sept 24,1878.
C.S. Leet went on to patent the call whistle #250,083 – dated November 29, 1881 taking only 5 days from filing to issuance – and just three years after that latest patented cartridge just described.
One can easily see the similarities in structure to the earlier casing in production. His design was for huntsmen ( not police per se ) The casing is in the form of a metallic cartridge-shell and the mouthpiece is in the form of a 'cartridge-ball'. It would go on to be manufactured in two sizes, a 50 caliber carbine cartridge and a 33 caliber pistol cartridge as seen in an 1883 Tryon catalog. It was offered gilt and nickel finished. An example of the 33 caliber model has not been found yet.
How long this whistle was manufactured is not known, but it disappears about the turn of the century, making it scarce to rare . It does surface from time to time though and is a very high quality whistle, quite shrill.
Some were made with a 'twitter' ball ( wooden with a hole through them ) some were not. Some had a flat stone instead. We have examples in brass and copper materials. Hand held and with a ring for a chain.
Our first look is at a handheld model 601 entirely in brass. You may note that the top is not just a round ball with a hole through it, but has a bit more flair to it. It attaches to where the center pin would be.
Further, the patent date when stamped is always to the front above the window. You can compare this to the 'rougher' made ( note the window cut is off center ) copper version next to it. It has two holes in the knop that do not go all the way through. So the ring has to be an open ring pressured into the holes for retention. This made it easier to lose that ring and so when we found it we had to replace it. The length is 1.8 inches or 46mm for the main body itself and it weighs in at 14 grams.
WE might take a moment here to look at an early advertisement of the 601. The knop is a little higher up than usual. Also this picture reflects a half round window not see as of yet in existance.
As you can imagine we are hunting for this one too.
Next is the plain knop that is seen more often — when found ( well, when seen at all ) with an aftermarket chain attached at some point of ownership. The knop is very small and the ring is original. There is no patent stamp on the front of this one.
We hope you have enjoyed this SPOTLIGHT and welcome any comments correction or criticism. Perhaps you have the elusive 33 caliber. If so please send pictures for comparison and we will add it to this post. TWG
Posted March 13, 2013