As Neddy Seagoon would exclaim, “What! What! What!“
In a previous article (Lip Protector-NFSCD #7) I mentioned a device that was used down under as an aide for learning the mouth organ. The student could practice freely without the advent of any lip issues.
In this 1937 advertisement the Glaz-o-phone can only be obtained from the The British Music Academy (King Street, Sydney), however in 1936 it was available from the Godfrey College, whose Director was a Mr. Godfrey F Clark. Perhaps Godfrey College which had been established for nearly forty years (stated in a previous advertisement) morphed into the British Academy.
Is it an Aussie invention? In the Commonwealth Australia Gazette of 1904 Walter Leslie Thacker Omond and Leonard Ronald Preston both of 189 Commercial road South Yarra invented an improvement to a mouth organ being a sliding mouthpiece and a triller.
In 1907 Allan & Co had a model on the market called the Boshter Shake-advertised as fitted to make a tremolo effect. Initially I thought it may have just had a horn attachment to produce a tremolo effect with the hand. Now I wonder if it had both a horn for a trilling effect and a mouthpiece which provided the shake. Whether this was anything like the Glaz-o-phone is pure conjecture without a specimen to be viewed.
In 1918 B F Laukandt (1870-1958), pictured here in the year of his patent, designed a somewhat similar mouthpiece attachment to the Glaz-o-phone. The mouthpiece is held in the mouth in the usual way and the harmonica is slid back and forth when playing it. Bernard states, “It is free and frictionless in its action” and its purpose, “the rubbing contact between the instrument and the lips is obviated.”
Bernard Frank Laukandt was born in Schilkojen, East Prussia, Germany. Bernard, a prominent Reverend in Red Wing, Minnesota, was later noted for a patented invention for a piece of piano action hardware. As early as 1897 two patented inventions had sliding mouthpieces. In August of 1887 John Smith of Rockfall, Connecticut, designed a mouthpiece to stop the drag of metal on the lips.
In December George Delano, of Abrams, Wisconsin, produced this interesting prototype with claims of, “improved construction and combination of parts.” Further to this he added, “that it provided the player the ability to sound clear distinct (not jumbled) notes free from lip trouble.”
However, as I think out loud, I’m wondering if the inventor of the Glaz-o-phone could have been Hohner employee and inventor, Ernst Glass. Ernst patented in 1929 (filed in 1926) a device for giving correct notes and harmonies in mouth organs.
This invention was reported in the Music Trade Review of 1926 as the Trutone Pitch Pipes. There were eleven garden varieties, all having a sliding mouthpiece with friction spring. The review reported that Hohner were, “now in the market with a complete new line of pitch pipes.”
Here is a squiz at the Banjo Pitch Pipe.
In the patent description Ernst doesn’t specifically mention the device as a pitch pipe for tuning instruments or that they came in different flavours. The only drawing was of the thirteen hole mouth organ which the Music Trade Review describes this model as the, P3-Hohner “Trutone” Vocal Full Chromatic Pitch Pipe. (Patent Pending). In the patent notes he outlines that, “The present invention relates to an improvement on the existing devices for giving correct notes and chords in mouth organs, in which a mouthpiece is provided on the one hand and a slide provided with holes on the other in order to enable the desired combination of notes to be produced. According to the present invention this device is considerably simplified in that the mouthpiece and slide are in one piece so that the desired note can be readily and accurately adjusted and produced with certainty. Given a suitable arrangement of the notes, that is, a suitable arrangement or formation of the blowing orifices, the device can also serve as a harmonizer.”
The Glaz-o-phone has no structural similarities with Ernst’s device except for a sliding mechanism, but there is a connection to his name (glass/glazier) and then there are the music notes on a staff stamped on the cover plate of the associated mouth organ. The earliest recorded mention I could find for the Glaz-o-phone is 1935, that’s not too long after Ernst’s patent. As I said I was thinking out loud and this all could be a red herring.
As recently as 2017 a mouthpiece attachment has been designed and prototypes produced by David Kettlewell to fit a chromatic harmonica. The one pictured is for lip pursers, but there is a multi-hole design for tongue blockers. David’s press release provides his intention for his invention.
“The bane of harmonica over the years has been the fact that the lips must move over a metal or wood surface to find new notes, lubricated by saliva. The saliva on the mouthpiece dries as one plays, and the mouthpiece gets sticky and sluggish, and that affects style of play. A new invention by Akron, Ohio, USA native, David Kettlewell eliminates this problem by use of a simple mechanical device where the player’s lips rest gently upon a moveable Slider, with the Slider moving back and forth effortlessly on a Base connected to the harmonica.”
This article began with a Neddy Seagoon quote, so let’s go out with another.
Bloodnok: “What’s the matter with you this morning, Seagoon? Why have you got such a long face?”
Seagoon: “Heavy dentures, sir.”