Clean as a Whistle

During the Industrial Revolution, one of the major manufacturers in Britain was James Dixon & Sons.  Founded 1806 in Sheffield, the company made hundreds of items for kitchen and dining room use, as well as sporting trophies, shooting accessories, and powder flasks.

They also made whistles.

The whistles first appeared in Dixon’s catalogue in 1883, though some also appeared in sporting goods catalogs that sold guns and rifles, and those were typically dog whistles.

The whistles were, to our eyes, lovely. Often made of Sterling Silver, gun metal, ivory, or horn, the whistles were used for recall and in training a gun dog. Not to be mistaken for a Galton’s whistle (also known as a silent whistle),  Dixon’s whistles were intended to be loud to get a dog’s attention. Dixon started making animal head whistles around 1850, and by 1883 there were at least six dog head models that all appeared in catalogues as “Dog Calls.”

We don’t have consent to share any of the photos we found of Dixon’s dog whistles, but you can see them here. The thumbnail image at the top is of a Victorian era carved ivory dog whistle that sold at auction at for $300.

That said, dog whistles were made by other companies, and in Britain, the other great whistle makers were W. Dowler & Sons, J Stevens & Son, and Thomas Yates.

We thought you might like to see a few other examples, though we’re unable to attribute their manufacturers:


These are two early 20th century Royal Worcester dog head porcelain whistles, one modelled as a hound, the other as a Pug, both found at


This is a 19th Century carved bone dog-head whistle with glass eyes, also found at


Victorian era silver dog whistle found at the Antique Jewelry Company/

Getting back to Dixon. Until 1976, the company was a family run enterprise, though its patterns are now owned by another Sheffield firm that export its products mainly to the Middle East.

Dog whistles are highly collectable, and you can still find some gems at 1stDibs,, Ebay, the Antique Jewelry Company, and even Etsy.

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