From the Collection

Kazoo Day

A tarnished metal kazoo with four small holes, a blue turret, and the words "KIRCHHOF U.S.A." engraved beside the mouth piece, photographed on a plain white background

January 28th is Kazoo day – so get humming!  Nowadays, the kazoo isn’t much more than a toy noisemaker, a buzzy thorn in the side of parents and lovers of quiet.  Originally intended as a serious instrument and means to disguise the voice, the kazoo employs a vibrating waxed membrane, making it a member of the rare “Mirliton” family of musical instruments.  This kazoo (81.10.13), made by the Kirchhof Patent Co. of Newark, NJ, dates from as early as 1930, nearly a century after the instrument’s invention in the southern United States.   Seen here, but uncommon on modern toy kazoos are the holes, permitting the player to attempt discrete notes.   Hopefully, one can put aside the natural adult aversion to this toy to appreciate its history and, with any luck, its limited future.

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