boatswain's pipe

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A peculiarly shaped whistle of great antiquity, used by boatswain's mates of men-of-war to pipe—or wind as it was called before the 18th century—orders throughout the ship. A variety of cadences could be produced on it, and each order had its own particular, easily recognizable, cadence, or call as it was known in the Royal Navy. Up to Tudor times, the pipe, or whistle, often set with jewels, was the personal insignia of the Lord High Admiral, and was worn around the neck on a long gold chain. Its only use today is for the ceremonial piping on board warships of visiting commanding officers and other dignitaries.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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