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014 Six Tube Porteous Wind Instrument – Registered 1845 (Special Edition)

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In keeping with our desire to do SPOTLIGHT SPECIALS of singularly known whistles, we present the SIX Tube Porteous Wind Instrument – Registered 1845. This is the only known example at this writing. Previously it was thought that there were two models, a four tube and a three tube, both made under the registered name of the designer, Porteous — but credited to Stevens and Son in literature and on the web. Compare to the four tube, previously thought to be the largest model.

  Stunning the whistle world is the emergence of a previously unknown Porteous 6 tube whistle known originally as a wind instrument. For the first time we look closer at a relatively un-acclaimed designer of whistles. It was designed by Richard Porteous and registered in 1845 in the UK for railway use. J Stevens and son has always received the credit for manufacturing Porteous whistles, but whether he even made this whistle is not proven yet. He may have been contracted by Porteous, but these wind instruments were designed for railway, police and sporting in mind and advertised as such. No mention in any advertisements or records has ever been made of nautical use as has been claimed. The name Stevens and son’s name does not show on any of these whistles —- nor any other of Porteous early whistles. It was previously thought that 3 and 4 tube models of these whistles were the extent of this outstanding designer’s registration ( both originally registered in 1845. )  Now we see that there are more ‘wind instruments’ to discover. All three have the same registration dates on them, although Porteous was making them years before hand. Makes you wonder if there is a five tube design ?? Presented here are some comparisons from the reference collection….

  All three now known models have holes in one tube for dissonance ? ( or hanging ).  The tops roughly unscrew for cleaning the tubes and they are solid brass, with cast ornamental tops and solid brass bases. The six tube is actually the same length as the more common ( relatively speaking ) three and four tube models. All utilize the same materials and are entirely made of brass. It is difficult to find these and then beyond that to be able to make comparisons obviously even more so. It has taken years to be able to publish. The tops are (ornamentally) cast, and their bases are cast also, which then take quite a bit of shaving and fitting. Still, even after much work the threads on them are on so large a piece, that they are rough fitting and one has to be careful when attaching them. Now let’s look at the tubes from the bottom – dramatic isn’t it ??

  Please note all the work that went into not only construction, but also the details of the top casting !!!

  The venting through the top had to be entirely reworked from the 3 and 4 tube designs … You can see the planning and execution involved. Marketing such large whistles must have been interesting. Nothing compares for the 1840s in quality, design, size and versatility.

  So also with the center portion, did it require re designing, which also changed all the machine work. The top is larger of course due to the extra two tubes now incorporated.

  What a wonderful example of what can be done and of an era gone by and almost lost. This whistle surfaced at the beginning of 2013 and it only makes one look forward to what else is out there. A five tube ?? In this last year we at the Whistle Gallery have seen almost a dozen ‘never seen before’ whistles surface. The lesson we learn ?? It’s not about who gets what whistle, but that what we still have to learn about and share— Which only tells us that it is very early in this emerging hobby. TWG

Posted May 21, 2013

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