An early advertisement in the Colony for a Mundharmonika at R Clisby’s Musical Repository in Rundle Street Adelaide. It appears in the South Australian newspaper the Sud Australishe Zeiting in 1862.
South Australia had a large intake of German settlers in the 19th Century, so much so that they represented 10% of all South Australians around the time of the advertisement. This weekly paper printed in their native language, was a reflection of their number. I didn’t find the advert in any other papers, perhaps the Mundharmonica wasn’t as much in demand with the locals. Thanks to Riff Raffer Mark Hand, we were able to ascertain this was supplied from Hamburg and branded the ‘San Francisco’ mouth harmonica. Ties in nicely with this month’s feature post Known Unknowns for more than one reason. Below is Mark’s translation from the old script called Schreibschrift.
Just received directly from Hamburg the “San Francisco” a selected assortment of Accordians, melodians (small rotary organs) mouth harmonicas and the popular cross harmonicas whose pleasing view and acceptance he occasionally recommends. These instruments are of excellent work, as strong and beautiful of tone. R.G. also expects a show of organs, pianos and other clear instruments of a new era by Grassbrook and Adolpf von Hamburg.
Here is Guru Pat’s (Missin) initial response on viewing the ad. “Wow! I’m pretty sure that’s the earliest mention I’ve seen of a Kreuzwender. This was well before the introduction of mass production technology.” A Kreuzwender is a paddle wheel harp where multiple harmonicas are attached to a wheel that you spin to play different keys. It was referred to in the advertisement as the Kreuz Harmonicas (Cross Harmonicas).
Redford Clisby (1810-1884) arrived from London on the Cheapside Barque in 1849. His original store was in Hindley Street, Adelaide in partnership with Charles Bilton. The partnership soon folded, but Redford continued the business ticking over. His store then moved to 68 Rundle Street where he made Flutes and Clarionettes and also tuned and repaired instruments. These skills were a rare commodity and in demand in the colonies. Redford was a noted competent exponent on the Flute in his home town performing at many local concerts. In 1866 he sold the store to Godfrey H Egermont.
The accompanying photograph (State Library of South Australia B 9114) has Redford on the left and I believe Eliza his wife and Godfrey. There is an unidentified gentleman, with moustache and a top hat behind them.
Now this is where the story takes another direction. Godfrey continues the store’s operations, but somewhere in 1868 and 1869 the shop becomes Blackeby’s – selling ‘Cheap Boots’. Godfrey was well known in Adelaide literacy circles as a writer of prose and verse and in 1881 was hired by the Adelaide Punch. It was in 1886 that things turned south for Godfrey. I’ll let the Narracoorte Herald (14th May, 1886) tell the tale in a rather unique reporting style.
Egremont, who some time ago eloped with the cash-box of a South Australian Building Society, has been turned over from Bow-Street, London, to William Street, Adelaide, to answer to the law for his act. Poor Godfrey, the way of the cash-box snateher is hard. Egremont made verses once upon a time with a view to becoming famous and failed. He tried embezzlement once only and succeeded. From verse to worse.
Godfrey had taken nearly £520 from his employer Adelaide, Kensington & Norwood Building Society where he was Secretary. He took flight (to the seas) on the vessel Sorata under the guise of De Burgh. South Australian Detective Heynen had been dispatched at considerable financial cost to locate him. With the help of Scotland Yard and German police he was caught and held in custody in Stuttgart. On Detective Heynen’s arrival Godfrey was arrested and brought back for trial. Heynen easily recognised Godfrey as he had made no attempt to change his appearance. Still he refused to concede his identity by protesting he was Godfrey Evans from Canton, Ohio. He had been known to use many aliases in the past which included Godfrey Hobart Egremont Gee, G Egermont Geigh, Godfrey Langton and Godfrey Sangster. Godfrey was sentenced to six years with hard labour. A book is available from Amazon on his collected works. Who would have thought?
A fantastic Christmas package came in the mail from Okriftel Germany. Yes it was Mark Hand again with this fabulous chocolate Marine Band mouth organ. These were available from the Harmonica Museum and possibly can still be purchased from them. Not too sure if I want to munch into it. It’s a work of art. It’s delicious.
The chocolate Marine Bands are hygienically packaged and can be kept to at least April 2022. The cost is 8.50 euros each. Hohner’s legendary “Marine Band” model was patented in 1896 and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary year.
Sad to hear the news from up North of the passing of Hoboken born, Aussie blues harp man, Doc Span’s wonderful wife Noni. Thoughts and prayers are with you mate. A great article appeared in the Hinterland Times on their loving relationship and their life and times. Superbly written by editor and chief Victoria McGuine. Check it out by clicking here. We also wish Doc well with his upcoming operation. Doc appropriately sent me a great version of Little Walter’s My Babe he recorded with Andy Cowan. Here’s a grab for your aural pleasure. Check out the full play on my radio segment Huff’n’Puff.
Adelaide’s Don Morrison has just released this brilliantly packaged double CD (left) celebrating forty years in the music business. This is a cracker with a fine selection of tunes from his various outfits. There’s a couple of newbies including an instrumental Forty Forty Blues recorded in his bathroom where Don’s exceptional blues harp skills are on display. We share a common bond being old Roy Boys (former members of the Fitzroy Football Club) and we both still bear the scars of their torturous death. There’s a hotter than a firecracker (previously unreleased) live version of his song Fitzroy I’m Calling You on the album, which echoes our torment. Out now on good streaming platforms like Bandcamp (not sure about the bad ones) and the Compact Disc, which I highly recommend, can be purchased from there as well. Don is not only a talented musician, but he is a craftsman too, making his own brand of resonator guitars from old galvanised corrugated iron sheets found in old farms and sheds – go check them out here Donmo. Pictured above are a couple of his Rustbuckets.
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