This month’s artifact of the month is our miniature 24-whistle steam calliope, ca 1901. The calliope was invented in 1855 by Joshua C. Stoddard and had its debut in Worcester, Massachusetts on the 4th of July, 1856. It was made to work by having a number of graduated whistles pitched to create the appropriate sound. When the player hit a key, steam would be released into the appropriate whistle to create the desired sound.
The calliope was built in Cincinnati by George Kratz and may very well be the last Kratz steam calliope built by Kratz in existence. This piece comes from a showboat named French’s New Sensation. She was the fifth showboat to bear that name and was built at Higginsport, Ohio in 1901. The calliope was frequently used to announce the showboat’s arrival into town to attract visitors.