Sunday, December 15, 2019

Vintage police whistle found inside 278

Today I planned on posting my 2019 wrap up and begin my year end break, but then the owners of Houdini's 278 sent me this photo of a mystery artifact discovered by their contractor. While the words "Regulation Police" would make one hope this could be part of a lock or handcuff, it actually appears this is half of an old police whistle.



Below are examples of some intact police whistles. Interestingly, in searching vintage whistles on eBay, I see the words "Regulation Police" appeared on many German whistles.


Why would Houdini (or the Bonannos) have a police whistle in their home? Might it have been for protection -- an early form of 911? But why is this one cut in half? Could it have been used as part of some spiritualist chicanery?

Please share any ideas or insights you might have in the comments below. One last mystery for 2019!

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12 comments:

  1. The lower third of the whistle appears to have been cleanly sawed off. The remaining piece might have been used for something. To hold keys or picks?

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    1. To hold keys or picks... Interesting!

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    2. Yes--I wouldn't put it past Harry to saw the end off and use it for something. It becomes a container to hold stuff. The ring on the end might have been useful. It probably didn't work out and was discarded or forgotten somewhere. Or no longer needed.

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  2. Sounds' like a great way to load a key... to me anyway.

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  3. What an interesting mystery! Not sure about it being used as a container since either end would presumably still be opened. Unless it were used for something that wouldn't fall out, such as putty (to make an impression of a small key, for example). The ring on the end would make it easy to pull out of a pocket. Whatever its purpose, I would think it was used, or would've just been tossed in the trash.

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  4. Putty! Another interesting idea.

    Although it might be too romantic to think this had anything to do with escapes. It might just be exactly what it is. A police whistle in the house to call for help. I'd like to think Houdini got it from one of his many police officer friends and gave it to his mother to keep by her bedside. But maybe that's being romantic too. :)

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    1. Certainly possible! I also wonder if it could've been used as some sort of a temporary stopper. Pull on the ring and the stopper comes out and the water drains out!

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    2. Another very viable suggestion! That would explain why it was cut. Maybe this one slipped down a pipe and was lost. Until now.

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    3. Yes, and it might also make a good stopper on a test model or miniature of some device they were experimenting with.

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  5. A round magnet could be placed in the open end to hold a key or pick for easy access. A string tied to the loop, then safety pined inside the trouser or up a sleeve. It's all conjecture but it's fun to guess!

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  6. Check it for dna

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