M-M-M-My Harola

Gidday Riff Raffers,

Ooh, my little pretty one, my pretty one.

My my my aye-aye whoa!

Quite awhile back I discovered advertising for this unusually named harmonica, the Harola. I endeavoured to locate its origins and to see if it was actually unique to the Australian market. My initial attempts failed dismally and it would be shelved for some time. Its resurrection occurred on the discovery (in an unrelated search) of a Harola mouth organ being donated as a prize in a competition. The Queensland Times on the 2nd September 1935 reported on the results of the Mouth Organ Championship of Ipswich and West Moreton. The runner up Mr. A Church won a mouth organ donated by the Harola Company of Brisbane. As McCloud would exclaim, “there ya go”. Following up on this lead, in 1929 at the Commercial Traveller Gala Day held at the Britannia Hall Mackay, Queensland Mr. A E Harrold presented a gold medal to the winner of the mouth organ competition. The competitors had to use a Harola mouth organ (perhaps that is the reason they were winners in three public competitions-see below). Interestingly at the fore mentioned Ipswich Championship, which only had a field of six the winner was Mr. J J Harrold.

My research had revealed that the Harola was indeed an Australian brand harmonica. Mr. Arthur Elliot Harrold was born in Balmain, New South Wales, Australia on the 9th January 1886. At the age of thirteen Arthur went to work for J Hess & Co of Sydney, who were wholesale dealers in musical instruments and the Hessophone gramophone. In 1909 Arthur moved to Brisbane to open a music warehouse for J. Hess and Co. On the 28th March 1919 the proprietor of J. Hess and Company would hand over the Queensland branch to Arthur. He went on to make his own gramophones, marketing them under his own brand name, Harola. He would also use the name on his imported instruments including his German made Harola mouth organs. 

(Pictures courtesy of Doug Dawson’s collection)

A funny thing happened when I viewed Doug’s Harola. I had a blurry flashback. In the recesses of my mind there was a familiarity with the graphic on top of this distinctively designed box, but what and why? Could this be a clue to the German manufacturer of this fine product. Then it hit me like a sucker punch. Many moons ago, when my young family had our annual summer holidays in Rye, we ventured down the beach road to the seaside township of Rosebud. Inside this rickety and cluttered antique shop were two harmonicas, a Crackajack and a Hohner Auto Valve. One was in a box and as it can be so often the box and mouth organ didn’t match. I purchased both at a bargain basement price with my main objective being the Crackajack. The maroon box was a Ludwig and as they say in the classics, ‘the rest was history’. The Harola was made by Gebr. Ludwig of Brunndobra, Germany. Pat Missin, authority on all things relating to harmonicas added this to the evidence room, “Their standard trademark was a fir tree in a circle, but as I checked my TM notes I spotted that they registered a 1936 TM for Supertone Automatic Valves” which looks very similar to the pic you sent me.”

Interestingly J Hess & Co had there own brand of mouth organ from about 1898, The Federal Harp. Made by Ernst Hess Saxony, Germany. Tune into NAWFOS (Now a word from our sponsors) #2 for advertising promotions on The Federal Harp.

Ooh, my little pretty one, my pretty one.

My my my aye-aye whoa!

M-M-M-My Harola (not really it was Dougs, but the Ludwig box was mine).

Ch SD

Addendum:

The earliest I could find of a Harola mouth organ model sold in Australia was in 1923. Doug’ s model probably early to mid thirties.

Arthur married Jesse Milne on the 8 October 1910. He had four children, Maxwell, Margaret, Patricia and Suzette. He died in Clayfield, Queensland, Australia on the 6th March 1981 aged 95.

Couldn’t locate J J Harrold’s (Joseph John) relationship to Arthur. I believe Joseph lost an arm aged 13 at the Ipswich Woollen mill in 1913 where he was employed. His left arm was caught in the rollers of a carding machine and had to be amputated.

A E Harrold’s Warehouse was located in Charlotte street Brisbane.

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