Please help me solve a 50 year old mystery about my whistle
September 2, 2011 9:00 PM   Subscribe

When I was much younger, it was very common for kids to put two fingers on their tightened lower lip and make a very loud and shrill whistling sound. For some reason, I could never get the hang of doing it.

When I was about 12 or so, a kid gave me a very different kind of whistle. It was made of steel (I believe, it was a heavy metal), was about 1.25 to 1.5 inches long and the shape was very odd. I have never claimed to be an artist, but I believe this crude drawing will give you an idea of what it looked like. Apparently during its manufacture, it started off as a flat piece of metal, probably punched out via a die. (picture 1 in the illustration). Then a hole was drilled, as shown, and the piece was then bent double in the middle to form something resembling picture 2 in the illustration.

You would put it in your mouth and place your tongue in the opening of the bend, and after just a little practice, be able to emit an extremely loud whistling sound, just like those doing it for real with their two finger style.

I had the whistle for some time, but eventually lost it. I have never seen, nor heard of one like it since. I've talked with people at flea markets, auctions and garage sales. I have googled it many times over the years, but have never found anything like it. No one I've ever talked with has ever heard of anything like it. The time frame was the early to mid 1960's. I would like to know more—who made it, when, and does anyone possibly still make them? I realize its a long shot, but someone in the hivemind may know... thanks a bunch!
posted by konig to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Looks like a Tenterfield fox whistle.
posted by hades at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2011

Best answer: And here are instructions on making your own.
posted by hades at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks much, hades; I believe you may have nailed it. Even though some of the Tenterfields look much different in style and size, their function is the same. In fact, this one that I saw on the page you linked to re making your own, is pretty close in shape and size, and sounds identical to the one that I had. Of all the purposes for there are for whistles, for some reason hunting never crossed my mind. I'm glad it did yours and appreciate your kindness in answering!
posted by konig at 9:58 PM on September 2, 2011

Ha. My dog stood up and alerted when I played the video. Very cool whistle!
posted by DarlingBri at 11:45 PM on September 2, 2011

If you are out in the woods without a piece of bent metal and a drill, you can try an acorn whistle. Also works with a bottle cap.
posted by CathyG at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: DarlingBri, I would image that pitch would get a dog's attention for sure!

CathyG, thanks for the acorn whistle info, certainly a must know for hikers!
posted by konig at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2011

I vaguely remember guys making these whistles from metal bands that were used to strap boxes on pallets in the days before plastic pallet wrap.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:07 PM on September 3, 2011

I remember these being popular for a while in grade school (1970s in Washington State). From what I remember the material was some type of spring steel, similar to what humble nudibranch mentioned above.
posted by doctord at 7:14 AM on September 6, 2011

« Older Name That Tune, Renfaire style?   |   fear of the unknown Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.