Georgian Silver Bosuns Whistle


Stock: 7956

Date: 1810

Maker: Joseph Willmore

Country: England

Of nautical interest. A large size antique silver whistle with traditional curved design, scrolled wire work detail and engraved basket...

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Of nautical interest. A large size antique silver whistle with traditional curved design, scrolled wire work detail and engraved basket weave design. Complete with suspension ring. Weight 21 grams. Length 13 cms. Birmingham 1810. Maker Joseph Willmore.

Literature: The bosun (or bo’sun or boson) whistle derives its name from ‘boatswain’, a warrant officer on a warship, or a petty officer on a merchant vessel, in charge of rigging, anchors, cables, etc.

Historically it was used to pass commands to the crew as its high pitch could be heard over the activities of the crew and bad weather.

In present days it is used in traditional bugle calls announcing certain events and ceremonies in modern navies.


This sought after silver whistle is in good condition with no damage or restoration. The silver marks are clear. There are teeth marks on the end of the mouth piece. Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item.

Maker Information

Maker: Joseph Willmore

Born in 1773, Joseph Willmore was the grandson of Thomas Willmore, an original member of the Birmingham Assay Office established 1773. Thomas’ first mark used 1773-1801 in partnership with James Alston, though working independently. Willmore was a buckle maker, Alston a button maker. Joseph registered his mark in 1806 at the Birmingham Assay Office as a snuff-box maker, for which he is highly regarded, especially for his snuff boxes with repoussé or ‘castle-top’ lids. He later also registered at the London Assay Office in 1814-15, opening a showroom in Bouverie Street. Joseph took on his grandfather’s business on his death in 1816, and expanded the variety of silver wares. For example, at the Birmingham Assay Office, he registered as a maker of knife and fork handles in 1831, and a maker of silver-gilt knives, forks and spoons in 1832. He continued to register makers marks until 1843, and died in 1855. His apprentice George Unite became a renowned silversmith in his own right.

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