[Ads-l] Early variant/precursor of Kazoo

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 12 20:42:20 EDT 2018

I've previously posted here about "kazoo".  The word was apparently coined in 1882 - the earliest appearance is in a patent for a kazoo awarded to Warren Frost in 1883, based on an application filed in August 1882.


The earliest examples of "kazoo" marketing materials appear in mid-1884.  Barry Popik had identified the earliest example.


It seemed likely to me that "kazoo" would have been based on the word, "bazoo," which generally related to trumpets or a loudmouth.

I recently found apparent examples of what we now call a kazoo marketed under the name, "Elkazoo", in late-1882, by a company in Hinsdale, New Hampshire.  This would have been after the kazoo was invented and patent filed for in August 1882, but before the patent was awarded and the word "kazoo" used in marketing (as far as I can tell).   It's not clear whether this is an unrelated competitor, industrial espionage, or under license from the inventor.

>From The News-Courant (Cottonwood Falls, Kansas), December 21, 1882, page 2.

[Excerpt] Elkazoo. The great Egyptian musical wonder.  Original discovered among the ruins of the pyramids.  Any tune played on it by any one, imitates any and all beasts, birds, animals, insects, every noise, in fact, with it you can imitate not only all human beings, but all animals like thd dog, cat, turkey, goose, etc. . . . More wonderful still, any tune is played on it at pleasure, making the most delightful music, and, astonishing as it may seem, those can play on the Elkazoo that play on no other instrument. [End]

The ad suggests an exotic, "Egyptian" vibe, perhaps intending to play off the Arabic-based word, Alcazar?

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