Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, Merry merry king of the bush is he. Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, Gay your life must be!
The name Kookaburra has its derivation from the indigenous Wiradjuri word Guuguubarra, which is onomatopoeic for the bird’s distinctive laughter call. To many they were known as the bushman’s alarm clock, however European settlers had referred to them by the irreverent catchphrase, “laughing jackass”. Dreamtime explains the Kookaburra call is a signal to the sky people to light the great fire (the sun).
Sold alongside the Boomerang Miniature way back in 1898 by Albert & Son was the Kookaburra. Not sure how this all fits in with Johs Richter’s Trademark for the Kookaburra of the same year.
Authority on mouth organ Trademarks Pat Missin reported to HRR that, “the Richter TM could be a red herring. Seydel may have had some relationship with one of the Richter’s…the style of writing on the covers is quite different from the Richter TM, but that might not mean anything.” Check out Pat’s research for more interesting information on the Richters.
Several of J Albert and Son’s advertisements were located from 1898 that offered both The Boomerang Miniature and the Kookaburra. An advert existed in 1914 (below) for the Kookaburra and a few from the 1930’s as well. Guess what year this one from Cahill’s is? A Hohner Chromanic (say what) as used by a named gentleman might give you a clue.
No Seydel trademark for Kookaburra could be unearthed and I presume the 1898 model is somewhat different to the 1927 Albert’s trademarked mouth organ which has the added words Laughing Jackass (Daily Commercial News and Shipping List, Sydney, Wednesday 2nd March 1927). Perhaps it was just a change to the cover plate design as the lip plate, which is promoted in the 1914 advertisement, is also seen on Doug Dawson’s physical specimen that has Laughing Jackass stamped on the cover plate.
You want to know my secrets? Us Aussie’s use a technique on the harmonica called the Reverse Kookaburra. You’ll need to work out that one for yourself – have to have some trade secrets. I’ve posted audio of our Kooka laughing to assist you.
Had to throw these photographs in as well. Left is one of our local residents sitting on a branch of the old maple tree next to our front door (taken September 2020). We had a good chat – no food was exchanged except for the juicy worms in the garden. Right is a carved Kookaburra from a fallen tree just a torpedo punt (maybe a bit further) from our house. This shot was taken about twenty years ago and sadly today this Kooka is looking a little worse for wear.