This object functioned as toy with a whistle and bells, as a teething device and as an amulet. The silver of the whistle and bells made it precious while the coral was used for teething and was thought to ward off enchantment and disease. As a token of protection and prosperity a whistle with coral and bells was included in an eighteenth-century American portrait of "Mrs. Jacob Hurd and Child" (64.114.2). For similar objects in the collection, see 47.70 and 1978.287.
Inscription: engraved on underside of whistle in shaded roman: IS
Marking: marked on whistle: RVD (in rounded rectangle) [The letters are wide and squashed and difficult to read and could be PVD]
Alphonso T. Clearwater, Kingston, NY, 1924; bequest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1933.