Gypsy mouth organs were available for purchase in the ‘Great Southern Land’ in the 1920’s. They weren’t exclusively produced for our market and probably their branding had little affiliation with consumers, but they were still being sold here in the thirties. Gipsy mouth organs were manufactured by Gotz of Germany.
C.A. Götz was founded in 1884 in the Vogtland area and located in Wernitzgrün/ Markneukirchen. The founder, Conrad August Götz, ran only a small company primarily producing violin pegs and a little later they added their own brand of instruments which included mouth organs. The firm continues to operate today selling quality accessories for stringed instruments, but their mouth organ production ceased some time before World War II. The Götz trademark is pictured top right and the Zigeuner (Gypsy) trademark below which was registered in 1914.
A W Birchall & Sons in Tasmania was offering the Gipsy mouth organ manufactured by Götz and their own brand name models between 1924 and 1927. Gipsy with an ‘i’ was an alternate spelling.
In 1932 Götz’s Gipsy mouth organ was on sale in Anthony Hordern’s Bargain Hall Sydney and could only be purchased from this establishment.
Growing up in a convict colony my only experience and knowledge (sadly) of the Roma people was through; Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books, television shows and a couple of Cher’s hit tunes. It was not until I visited an Unknown Gypsy Boy’s grave in Bury St Edmunds in 1998, that the reality of their true history come alive. The first Romani people would arrive in Australia with the First Fleet.
I was born in the wagon of a travelling show. My Mama used to dance for the money they’d throw. Papa would do whatever he could. Preach a little gospel. Sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good.
1971 was a great year for Spectrum’s I’ll Be Gone in Australia and also Cher’s Gypsys Tramps & Thieves, both here and in the States. It was, however a bad year for books in America……
“Yeah, ’71. That was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards, Abby Hoffman telling everybody to steal books. I don’t judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. But you put on a pair of shoes when you walk into the New York Public Library, fella.” (Lt. Joe Bookman, library cop – Seinfeld episode The Library)
In amongst the First Fleet arrival was convict gypsy James Squire, who would go on to be one of Australia’s finest brewers and his beer is still available today. There would be an influx of Romani people in 1973 when Prime Minister Gough Whitlam ended Australia’s White Australian policy. He subsidised passage for immigrants which included Romani people – rich with their heritage and fine music traditions.
Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music ’til her brew was done
(Dark Lady – Cher)
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