As the makers of the original tin whistle since 1843, here at Clarke Tinwhistle we have plenty of fantastic tin whistle facts to share with you, including some that you may not already know.
Here are our top 10 favourite tin whistle facts:
- The first tin whistle was made in 1843, which is the same year as Nelson’s column was erected in Trafalgar Square, Dicken’s published ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Mendelssohn wrote his famous wedding march.
- The inventor of the tin whistle, Robert Clarke, decided to make tin whistles for a living after quitting his job following a disagreement with his employer
- The first tin whistles were sold from a handcart in various marketplaces, and Robert would make them in front of potential customers before playing a tune on them to gain interest
- The original instruments that Robert Clarke made were small in size, high pitched and called “Megs” – which was the Lancashire name for a halfpenny
- The Clarke family also made cycle whistles and pea-shooters!
- Clarke tin whistles consist only of a sheet of tinplate, a piece of wood and a small quantity of solder – plus black paint and gold lacquer on the originals
- Originally, the Clarke tin whistle’s fipple was made from Malayan rubber-tree wood, but this was eventually changed to cedar or maple wood to make it more resistant
- The name “Pennywhistle” is thought to have come from street performers playing the instrument for pennies – but this alternative name still refers to a Clarke tin whistle
- The Clarke D whistle was invented in the late 1980s which delighted folk musicians, as this key plays better alongside fiddles
- The colourful Clarke Sweetone whistles were originally made for children, but are also played by professionals due to their sweet and delicate tone
To learn more about the history of the tin whistle, you might like to take a look at our book which covers the story of this great instrument from 1843 right up to the present day.