The Bells, The Bells.

18th October, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

A look at an Aussie harp from yesteryear, a couple of record reviews and a few bibs and bobs. Don’t forget to visit Harmonica Riff Raff Soundcloud and YouTube for more treats.

In 1909 in Australia Albert’s was selling a unique Boomerang mouth organ with a double cup set of bells attached to the rear of the instrument via an arch with a boomerang shaped bend at the apex. It was a series called the B.A.B-Boomerang Arch Bell models. Pictured is the 40 reeds Professional edition which sold for five shillings and sixpence-there was a mini (20 reeds) of similar structure and a mini double as well. Two other models the 2-sided and the 4-sided (sold for seventeen shillings and sixpence) had one set and two sets of bells respectively, however they were mounted on top. The five versions can be viewed in Ray Grieve’s fabulous books on the mouth organ in Australia (a third is awaiting a publisher). The bells of different pitches would be tuned to the key of the harp and with the use of a lever on either side could be struck by both forefingers in an accompanying rhythm while blowing the tune.

The mouth organs were manufactured by Seydel in Saxony, however the bells would more than likely have been manufactured elsewhere. I don’t believe Seydel made a similar model for other world markets. It looks like the Arch Bell didn’t reappear after World War 1 and I don’t believe any have survived today. The very nature of it’s design found it wanting when withstanding the laws of physics. Even the top mounted bells of the day were fragile and extinction was never far away.

A similar bell structure emerged later on a harmonica made by A A Schmitt of Klingethal on their Lyra brand seen above. The University Chimes (German made-pictured below) sold by Sears Roebuck in America under the brand name of Beaver also had a similar double cup mounted bells, however this was attached on top.

The earliest mention I could find advertised Down Under was a ten hole mouth harmonica with bell, which sold for two shillings and sixpence in Hobart by J Walch and Sons in 1882. The model pictured below was advertised in The Farmer & Settler (Sydney) 18th July 1906 made by Gerbruder Schuster (Schuster Brothers) at Markneukirchen which sold for three shillings.

Ken Leiboff provides a fine demonstration of playing a harmonica with bells on the information highway. See here 🔔.

The bells have told!

Ch SD

PS: A wee bit of Album news. South Australian band Lazy Eye is set to release their sixth album Whiskey & Gin next month and they’re giving it away track by track. You can join the Whisky & Gin Rent Party by reserving a ticket here. It all starts on the 23rd October. A video clip of their fantastic title tune can be viewed here Whisky.

“Just when you thought Lazy Eye had reached their peak they take you over the top with their new album release Whisky & Gin. This is a toe tappin’ finger clickin’ treat. Not only have they put the hip into hypnotizing, but also the groove into groovy. No harp (mouth) but plenty of horn. Lazy Eye have added some herbs and spices to their Blues cookin’ with a three piece horn section and single malt harmonies. Do yourself a flavour and pick this up at all good and bad record stores.”  Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff)

“Every now and then a tune hits you right between the ‘ten speed gears’. Sunshine Coast band Flaskas have achieved this with their latest single Song Bird. Lovingly crafted with a marching rhythm, earthy vocals, singing slide and then when combined with the magic ingredient the ‘ten hole tin can’ Song Bird is elevated to higher realms. They did the Song Bird proud!” Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff) Hear here Song Bird . Out now at all good and bad streaming platforms.

While we’re on the topic of our feathered friends a quick update on Benoit’s fantastic album Blue Bird. His launch will be held at the Selby Folk Club on the 29th of November. The album cover is completed and I must say Lyn’s artwork is superb. Benoit has posted for want of a better word or cliche an interesting video clip of a tune from the album titled Familiar Cliche.

Just another quick one John Whiteman’s fabulous book on Harmonica Box Art is available for purchase here in Oz on eBay. Shame about the postage costs.

Oh, by the way Ken dug up a Cracker Jack relic and posted a pic and a comment on a previous Dawg Blawg #28285.

Aussie Models-Timeline

14th February, 2019

Hi there Riff Raffers,

A timeline of Australian models (an attempt), as promised a while back.

No no no, not that type of model, sorry! Australian brand harmonicas up to WWII. Like this.img_23341890’s-The Scorcher (F A Rauner/Feldheim, Gotthelf & Co)-up to 1920

1895/99-The Melba (?/H S Chipman-TM 1895), Crack A Jack (F A Rauner?/?)

1896Woolloomooloo Warbler-originally had a patent bone lip protector (Seydel/Alberts), Kangaroo Chalmer (Seydel/Alberts)-Later that year King Billy-two sided & another with bells maybe later at 3s 5d (Seydel/Alberts), Boomerang Large & Miniature-also three sided models in both (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1897), The Federal Harp-perhaps as early as 1880, three models sold in 1910 as the Midget Federal 20 reeds, Junior Federal 20 reeds & Senior Federal 40 reeds (Ernst Hess/J Hess & Co)

1896/98Native Waratah-with celluloid sliding cover (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1910), Wallaby and Possum (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1910)

1898Kookaburra & Cooee 2d (TM reg by M. Johs Richter)

1900The Bushman-originally 2 models 2/- 20 reeds & a 3/- then a 40 reeds at 4/6 (C H Meinel/ W H Paling), Larrikin ? (Carl Essbach) Century Advance Australia (Hohner TM)

1901Corroboree & Geebung (Hohner registered never sold), Federation SouvenirAdvance Australia (Hohner TM)

1902Boomerang Professional and a three sided model (Seydel/Alberts), Crackajack three models all with open back covers Professional, Senior & Junior 20 reeds-also sold by same brand Tommy Dodd and Little Gulliver, added later Boss Cracker, Cadet & Double (F A Rauner/Allans TM-1903), Kookaburra (Seydel/Alberts), The BuglerSmall 10 hole/20 reeds for 1/- and a Large 20 hole/40 reeds for 2/- (Seydel?/Deane and Sons), Wallaroo (C Essbach/Johnstone & Company) sold alongside the Humming Bird and maybe even earlier.

1903Lyre Bird-four models upgraded later to six (?/W F Coxon)

1904Bonzer & Boshter-sixpenny models (?/Allan & Co), Melba (F A Bohm/Flights-Bendigo)

1908Topnotcher-Ordinary & Professional, later the Nipper 8 pence and Amateur’s Harp a full sized concert harp 2/3 (circa 1914), then the Scout, Artists, Vamper, Standard & Concert Grand (C H Meinel?/W H Paling TM-1906), BoskerVamper 1/6 & Double Reeds 2/6 (?/Chapman’s), The Kangaroo (A Koch/-) different to Seydel’s later model of same name. Dickens’ Echophonean attachment for the mouth organ invented by Sydney Dickens and patented.

1909B.A.B (Boomerang Arch Bell) series: initially three models #1-4 professional organs 120 reeds with 2 sets of bells 17/6, #2-2 professional organs 80 reeds with 1 set of bells 10/- and the #3-1 professional organ 40 reeds with 1 set of bells. Later (1912?) a mini professional 20 reeds 1 set of bells and a mini professional double with 1 set of bells.

1910The Wallaroo-diatonic and a four sided model (Seydel/Alberts), Kookaburra (Seydel/Alberts TM)

1911-Boomerang Grands-Miniature Grand (nickel plated), Grand (nickel plated), Miniature Grand (black enamel), Grand (black enamel), Austral Harp, Black Gin, Wonga, Jabiru, Wombat, The Wallaroo, Golden Wattle, Budgeree & Lyre-Bird (Seydel/Alberts TM)

1912Cobber four models-20 reed Vamper, 20 reeds miniature professional, 40 reeds standard, 40 reeds professional (Bauer & Krause/Jackson & MacDonald), five Boomerang Professional Arch Bell models, Young Australia-two models (Hohner Special Edition-sold to 1920: TM 1912)

1913Rozella (Seydel?/A P Sykes)-3 models-Solo 20 reeds 1/-, with nickel mouthpiece 1/-3, with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 1/6, Concert 20 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 2/- and the Professional 40 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 3/-, Magpie four models-40 reeds, two large 28 reeds 5s & 3/6 and a small 20 reeds (?/Macrows) to 1920, Coo-ee (Seydel/Alberts), The Kangaroo & Wallaroo (Seydel/Alberts), Bess O’ Th’ Barn (F A Bohm?/A P Sykes)-3 models-Solo Artist 20 reeds 1/-(with nickel case 1/-6), Concert Artist 20 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 2/- and the Professional Artist 40 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case.

1920’s-Bonzer-four new models (F A Rauner?/Allans), The Kangaroo (A Koch/-)- Made in Switzerland, Rigi model

1923-Boomerang (TM USA), Harola (Gebr. Ludwig/Harola)-sold 6 models 1/- to 10/- a new improved automatic valves sold in 1933

1924Boomerang De Luxe-‘Boomerang Shaped’ (Seydel/Alberts) with the slogan “Having Tried the Rest, Now Buy the Best” TM 1925 also Boomerang Tiny-four hole, Tiny De Luxe-five hole, Pocket, Miniature & Miniature Professional (Seydel/Alberts)

1925-Baby Boomerang and Baby Boomerang De Luxe (Seydel/Alberts) for a very short time. Koala Harp (?/?). Monarcheight models Piccolo, Vamper, Junior- 20 reeds, Senior, Tremolo Harp, Professional, Artist- 40 reeds & a Grand Concert Harp- double sided 96 reeds at one stage there was a ‘Monarch King’ (E Deinst?/Musgroves)

1926Perla four models-Medium 20 reeds, Medium Professional 20 reeds, Large 40 reeds, Large Professional 40 reeds (F A Rauner/Mick Simmons Pty Ltd)

1926/27-Crackajack upgrade to ten models-Cadet, Junior, Miniature Professional, Professional, Senior, Artist, Miniature Concert, Concert, Concert Grand, Tremolo Concert another advertisement listed them from lowest to highest price as the Tivoli 1/6, Cadet Plain 2/-, Cadet Nickel 2/6, Boss Cracker 3/-, Double 3/6, Junior 4/6, Concert 5/-, Senior 5/6, Professional 7/6 and Artist 10/6

1929-Trump (Hohner/Suttons)- 40 reeds 5/-

1930Auto-Valve Vamper (Hohner)-Marketed as ‘Australian’ Model and three other auto valve models-blue box with wide air slots, red box an octave lower, brown box two octaves lower

1936Chromorgan-Chromatic & Mezzo Boomerang-Diatonic, a lower music range model (Seydel/Alberts)

1937-Crackamonic-Chromatic (F A Rauner/Allans) also the Crackajack Regal a double sided, two different keys ‘C’ & ‘G’ with 48 reeds each side. Nickel plated and colourfully enameled. P C Spouse ‘Champion Series’-World’s Fame (F A Bohm/Mick Simmons)-3 models a small 20 reeds, medium 40 reeds and a large concert 40 reeds. The Federal Band-Chromatigrand (Johann Schunk/Mick Simmons)-2 models standard 40 reeds and a professional ‘Grand’ 48 reeds.

1939-Jazz Master (F A Rauner/Allans) replaced Crackajacks short lived due to war.

img_3035TM=Trademarked. First named=harmonica maker followed by music house. Unless otherwise stated.

Like ‘The Scorcher’, ‘The Federal Harp’ may not strictly be an Australian name brand, however the ‘Hess’ connection made it a viable inclusion, in my humble opinion. Ernst Hess of Klingenthal, Saxony, Germany made and registered the model (N.25116) and J. Hess & Co music wholesalers of Clarence street, Sydney sold the mouth organ. Ernst Hess had a display at the ‘World Fair’ held in Melbourne, Australia in 1880.img_1771

Please don’t take as gospel, however if you have any information it would be greatly appreciated. This is a fluid document that will be updated when new verifiable information comes to hand.

This research was a result of searching for the maker of Crackajack mouth organs (seeQuest For The Maker‘). Thanks to Ray Grieve & Pat Missin for all their assistance. Here is a collection of their endeavours.

Notes:

PM- I can’t find a “Kookaburra” trademark by Seydel, but there was a “Kookaburra” registered by M. Johs. Richter in 1898. Don’t know if that’s a trademark that Seydel later acquired, or if they are unconnected.

RG- The “Kookaburra” was on the market in 1902. His mention of the 1898 reference is interesting because a “Kookaburra” wasn’t in the original Albert’s range which came out in 1896. (Would be a rare one-off mouth organ if it was ever marketed by Richter.) Pat’s discovery would explain why Alberts had their unique and different “Kookaburra” on the market six years later, if Richter held a patent on it in 1898, which presumably must have lapsed by then?

img_1915-1PM- I’d already written a little about M. Johs. Richter on my website. On the same day that he trademarked “Kookaburra”, he also registered the same “Coo-Ee”. I doubt that these are connected with the later models of the same names, as his involvement with harmonica making seems to have been quite brief. He was mostly known for stringed instruments. Carl Essbach registered the name “The Larrikin” in 1900, for a variety of things including harmonicas. This was presumably for the Australian market, but I don’t recall any harmonicas with this name. Also that year, W.H. Paling of Sydney in conjunction with Glaser of Berlin registered the name “The Bushman” specifically for harmonicas. Again, don’t recall hearing of those.

img_1520-1Hohner registered a bunch of Australian-flavoured TMs, including “Century Advance Australia” (1900), ” Federation Souvenir, Advance Australia”, “Geebung” and “Corroboree” (1901) and ” Young Australia” (1912). The latter seems to have been their best seller Down Under.img_1195-1

Seydel’s earliest TM for “The Boomerang” was from 1897. They registered “The Moa” a couple of years later. They trademarked the name “Kookaburra” in 1910. I’m guessing the Richter TM was expired by then. The same year they also trademarked “Woolloomooloo”, “The Possum” and “Boomerang Miniature Grand”. The next year they registered “Austral Harp”, “Black Gin”, “Wonga”, “Haka”,”Jabiru”,”Wombat”,”The Wallaroo”,”Golden Wattle”, “Budgeree” and “Lyre-Bird”. In 1925 they trademarked a design for the Boomerang-shaped “Boomerang De Luxe” with the slogan “Having Tried the Rest, Now Buy the Best” and in 1926 they registered “Tapu” and “Kiaora”.

I also found a trademark for “Cobber” registered in 1911 by a Leipzig-based company called Bauer & Krause.

img_1552-1RG- Some notes on Pat’s brilliant research: There was a Bushman available in Australia in the 1920s and always sold alongside of the English Topnotcher. (see my “Boomerangs & Crackajacks” book P. 60). It was never advertised as an ‘Australian’ brand. Would seem that Hohner’s Geebung and Corroboree never went into production. I couldn’t find any mention in old Hohner catalogues. And if so Kurt would have definitely mentioned this to me. Very likely that Bauer and Krause made the Cobber. Couldn’t find any info on this at all from either Jackson or McDonald descendants. Would be interesting to know just how many of these actually went into production.

PM-https://www.trademarkia.com/au/crackamonic-71796.htm

img_1459-1It lists “Crackamonic”, but unfortunately has no other data on it. It gives the date Monday, January 1, 1900, but that seems to be the default for this site when they don’t know the filing date.

img_1591-1RG- Pat must be right regarding 1900 being the default date for the “Crackamonic”. It was marketed briefly from around 1938 – I had never seen one until the photo you sent. Most of the old Australian players were using diatonics and considered the Hohner as the superior chromatic anyway (Larry Adler had a lot to do with that).

img_1144-1Articles have already featured Crackajack & Cobber Mouth organs. Waiting in the wings W F Coxon’s Lyrebird, Hohner’s Auto Valve Vamper, Paling’s Topnotcher and Frank’s Boomerang.img_1754

Ch SD

PS: Just found (28/2/2019)! An application by Michel Francios Albert in 1927 for a Trademark. Mouth organ depicting picture of a Kookaburra and the words “The Kookaburra (Laughing Jackass)”. Application # 43906 April 23, 1927.

img_1803-15/3/2019- New addition ‘The Bugler’ sold by William John Deane and sons from 1902 to about 1909. Advertised as Deane’s patent and Sydney is stamped on the cover plate. Appears that it’s an Australian Mouth Organ although not an Aussie brand name, so to speak. Interesting to note that William Deane married Pauline Albert in 1896 (Jacques’ daughter and Frank’s sister). So maybe it’s a Seydel Mouth Organ because of the Albert’s/ Boomerang connection.

img_213523/3/2019- New addition the P C Spouse ‘Champion Series’ on a F A Bohm ‘World’s Fame’ mouth organ for Mick Simmons of George Street, Haymarket Sydney. More information in Ray Grieve’s upcoming third book on the history of mouth organs in Australia. P C (Percival) Spouse was Australian Mouth Organ champion in 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1935. Mick Simmons also had a chromatic brand ‘The Federal Band’ stamped on the cover plate of a Johann Schunk ‘Chromatigrand’.

img_2264

27/3/2019- A few more added. 1928 a ‘Baby Boomerang’ and ‘Baby Boomerang De Luxe’. Appears short lived for the same models branded ‘Tiny’. The ‘Koala Harp’ in the same year. Also in 1908 the Dickens’ ‘Echophone’ invented by Sydney Dickens of Carlton, Melbourne, Australia. A horn attachment for the mouth organ to increase volume. More to come in Ray Grieve’s third edition of the history of the harmonica in Australia.

2/4/2019- I’m throwing in Musgroves’ Monarch mouth organs from Western Australia from 1925 or thereabouts. Not an Australian sounding name, but being part of the Commonwealth  (Boomerang mouth organs were once advertised as the ‘Monarch Of Mouth Organs’) and also because Musgroves’ were sole distributors they’re in. More to follow.img_2176

23/5/2019-Recent discovery a ‘Tommy Dodd’ (the boy’s Crackajack) sold by Allan & Co in 1903 for sixpence and also the ‘Little Gulliver’ for 4/d made by F A Rauner. Story to follow!

Tommy Dodd

10/7/2019-Further updates on maker of Topnotcher’s-a Cadet model has appeared with the Balloon Brand and logo stamped on back cover plate which means C H Meinel made this one. In a 1899 trade page The Melba is pictured along with a Crack A Jack! Samuel Holmes Chipman of Margaret street Sydney trademarked the name Melba for musical instruments in 1895. In 1904 a new Melba model made by F A Bohm was sold in Australia. Have also placed Eduard Deinst tentatively as the manufacturer of the Monarch-research is pointing in his direction. Added the Wallaroo sold by Johnstone and Company of 27 The Strand and 672 George-street, Sydney, who were sole agents for Essbach’s celebrated improved Humming Bird and the Wallaroo mouth organs (TM must have lapsed and Albert’s swooped in). We also have two harps that may belong to the gift shops of prominent Australian Hotels. The Metropole (C A Herold) and The Grosvenor Harp (Seydel). Articles to follow.

18/9/2019-Latest updates to timeline. B.A.B Boomerang Arch Bell models advertised earlier than indicated. Preceded the Boomerang Grands and were sold as early as 1909. Rozella’s came in a few different formats and I’ve included the Bess O’ Th’ Barn models sold by A P Sykes as they appear to have only been sold in Australia. The other addition is The Kangaroo, made in Switzerland mouth organ-circa 1920. An article on this will be out before the end of the year.

19/10/2019-Latest additions include the Harola made by Gebr. Ludwig for the Harola company of Brisbane (1923) and the Trump made by Hohner for Sutton’s Music stores in 1929. Stories in the mail as we speak.

8/11/2019-Two additions the Bosker made for Chapman’s Up-To-Date Music & Musical Instruments of 694 George Street Sydney in 1908.

In 1914 Palings Topnotcher mouth organs had two models the Nipper and a full sized concert harp the Amateur’s Harp in a superior case.

Collingwood’s ‘Crackajack’ Collier

14th November, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers,

Who holds the title of Collingwood’s ‘Crackajack’ Collier? No it’s not either of the footballing brothers Albert or Harry from the late 1920’s through into the thirties. It is Australian Mouth Organ Champion from the same period, Albert and Harry’s cousin, Harold. Harold’s father, Harry Edward Collier was the brother of Albert Augustus Collier, father of Albert and Harry. All resided in the inner city suburb of Collingwood.

Albert and Harry were worthy contenders for the title of ‘Crackajack’ Collier as in the entire history of the VFL and AFL (up until 1989 known it was known as the Victorian Football League, from 1990 onwards as the Australian Football League) they are the only set of brothers to have won the coveted Brownlow medal, awarded in recognition for the best and fairest player for the competition. Both played for the Collingwood Football Club when they were known as ‘The Machine’, winning several premierships including four in a row, which has never been replicated by any other club. Albert debuted for the Collingwood Magpies at the tender age of fifteen. He won the Brownlow in 1929. His brother Harry won his fifty nine years later, retrospectively! In 1930 three players tied on four votes (an umpire awarded one vote per game) as there was no provision for a tie it was decided not to declare a winner. The commission stepped in an awarded it to the player who had played the least number of games and that was Stan Judkins from the Richmond Football Club. To add further insult to injury a vote was thrown out for Collingwood as the player couldn’t be identified due to the umpire having just written, Collier. When asked later which one he stated the small one, which was Harold standing at 5ft 8, Albert measured 5ft 11.

As famous as these two were they weren’t the ‘Crackajack’ Collier. The title had to go to their cousin, Harold Collier, National Mouth Organ Champion twice over and who exclusively used Allan’s ‘Crackajack’ harmonicas. He was ‘Crackajack’ ambassador and champion soloist winner of the 3LO open in 1927 and he would win again in 1936. Harold had found himself banned from some events when he revealed that he had used a ‘Crackajack’ harmonica in Boomerang (Alberts) sponsored events. Albert’s music house in Sydney had the popular ‘Boomerang’ range of harmonicas which were in direct opposition to Allan & Co music house of Melbourne who sold the ‘Crackajack’ models. Harold, after winning his first title, worked tirelessly for Crackajack and Allans. In 1928 he managed the ‘Melbourne Crackajack Mouth Organ Orchestra’. He would also form, manage and conduct women’s and children’s bands including the highly successful ‘Melbourne Ladies Crackajack Mouth Organ Band’. Now that’s a mouthful.

There were other football connections with the ‘Crackajack’ harmonica than just the moniker Collier. In the 1920’s the harmonica was packaged with a Football Team Colours card and they also featured in advertisements in the match day publication, the ‘Football Record’.

 

 

One seen here from 1930 has a Collingwood player (it may even be Harold, who we believe played football, but not at the same lofty heights as his talented cousins) sitting cross legged blowing a ‘Crackajack’ harmonica. The other from a finals record of the same year displays footballers preparing to mark the ‘Crackajack’ mouth organ. The model shown here has the distinctive cover plate that helped us verify it’s manufacturer, F. A. Rauner. Learn how this was discovered in a previous article here at ‘Quest’. One interesting anecdote featuring the Melbourne Ladies Crackajack Band was when they led the funeral of Thomas Harris, President of the VMOBA (Victorian Mouth Organ Band Association). Thomas passed away on the 25th of January 1934. He was participating in a social cricket match at the Kew cricket ground when he grabbed a fantastic diving catch and then suddenly collapsed and died. The funeral notice in ‘The Argus’ newspaper requested bandsman (I presume this was generic for bands-women as well) to bring organ in key of ‘G’. The fifteen Ladies of the Crackajack band wore orange jumpers with cream skirts and beret. They played ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ and Harold marched in front, conducting proudly in evening attire.

In the band that day was a young Nellie Dowdle. At the 1938 Australian Championships held at the Plaza Theatre in Geelong, Nell would be crowned Solo Champion. Her prize consisted of both cash and the Collier Cup and not only did she receive the cup from Harold, but as Ray Grieve put it, “and indeed Harold Collier himself when they married the following year.” Nellie had joined the band in 1932. The ladies band would practice once a week and perform every Sunday night for half an hour on 3KZ radio. They played at venues that included the Melbourne Zoo, HM Prison Pentridge (Ladies Section), a church service and as previously mentioned they led a funeral. When Nell was asked why the instrument was so popular her reply was simply, “it cost two shillings and sixpence.”

The Collier dynasty, with brothers Albert and Harry and cousin Harold during the 1920’s and 30’s had enormous impact not only in Collingwood, but also for the State Of Victoria. Harold’s impact traveled even further, it went nationwide. He was the nations ‘Crackajack’ Collier.

Ch SD

Quest For The Maker

28th October, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers

The epic journey set out on the first of October, 2018. The trekking party consisted of Pat Missin, Ray Grieve and myself. We were in search of a gold nugget. Just as George Leavis Allan had done in 1853 when he took out a gold licence (#88) and went prospecting at Campbell’s Creek. George would go on to build Australia’s largest music house, Allan & Co in 1877 at 276 Collins Street, Melbourne. In 1902 they would sell their own brand of harmonica called ‘Crackajack’ to rival their Sydney counterpart Alberts, who had already established a successful brand called ‘Boomerang’. The ‘Boomerang’ brand were manufactured in Germany by Seydel. Our gold nugget would be to find the manufacturer of the ‘Crackajack’ harmonicas.

Ray Grieve had it on good authority (Kurt Jacob) that F A Bohm were the likely culprits. However, Ray had found indisputable evidence hard to come by. A book on the history of Allans had made no mention of their harmonica line and descendants of the Allan family had no knowledge either. Pat had assumed it was Seydel as the big harmonica collectors of the world had labelled them such. One collector from San Diego, John Whiteman had them listed in his comprehensive anthology this way. Pat asked John if he could backtrack on how this information was derived. John obliged, but found no evidence for this decision.

Where to next? Pat ventured to the world of Trademarks, a place he was familiar with. He uncovered a mine of information relating to Australian harmonicas, but nothing that helped us in our quest. He kept digging. He was nearly down under when he came across a Trademark for the ‘Crackamonic’. Alas there was no extra information and a default date had been given for its registration (Monday January 1, 1900). Ray was excited by the find as Nellie Collier had told Ray of a ‘Crackajack’ Chromatic, but he had never seen one. I’m stoked! I was never able to see a ‘Crackajack’ Chromatic I couldn’t source one not even a photograph for my book. This shot of theCrackamonic’ is a first for me” (A picture exists in John Whiteman’s’ anthology). These were on sale in Australia in 1938 but with the onset of war and because they couldn’t compete with the ‘Chromorgan’ by Alberts, they disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

I decided to go surfing, nothing like an early morning surf down on the Mornington Peninsula at the breaks of Gunnamatta. No it wasn’t that type of surf it was of the information highway and would you believe it I discovered the patent for the name ‘Crackajack’ in of all places a supplement to the Western Australian Government Gazette of 1903. This was no nugget, but as this was Allan’s personal Trademark it was unlikely these harmonicas would have been made by Seydel as they held all the Trademarks for Albert’s ‘Boomerang’. We delved further into Ray’s book, ‘Boomerangs & Crackajacks’. There was the ‘Bonzer’, a ‘Perla’ and the ‘Rozella’. Nellie Collier had mentioned the ‘Bonzer’ to Ray. He discovered an advertisement for the ‘Bonzer’, but no other information presented itself and Pat couldn’t identify any trademarks either. It was the same result for the ‘Perla’. The ‘Rozella’s’ cover plate was of some interest and especially alongside a photograph of a 1927 ‘Crackajack Junior’ which I had forwarded to Pat. Could this be the lead we were after. He remarked, “… one thing has struck me over the past few days. When you look at the ‘Boomerang’ models with their fluted covers, the two flutings do not meet in the middle of the cover. This is how Seydel did the flutings on the covers of harps they made under their own ‘Bandmaster’ brand. As best I can make out, the ‘Rozella’ has similar flutings. Bohm made at least one harmonica with similar covers, although I can’t find any photos online. This design was registered by Seydel in the late 1800s and they got rather annoyed at imitations of it. They ranted a little about it in one of their catalogues and I have an article from a German music trade magazine from 1928 that talks about the alleged infringements, but sadly it does not name the accused infringers. However, looking at the fluted “Crackajack” covers, the two flutings run into each other to form one continuous channel. I don’t know if they are all like this, but this is quite different from the Bandmaster/Boomerang shape”.

There were several more days of frustration. The ‘Jazz Master’ which was sold by Allan & Co as a temporary stop gap measure just before WWII could be another line of inquiry. It too would be a dead end. Then suddenly quite by accident on the 24th of October while working on another project Pat tripped on a golden nugget. This is what he found, It’s been bothering me that whilst many companies copied the Seydel ‘Bandmaster/Boomerang’ fluted covers (so many that Seydel felt obliged to take action), the ‘Crackajack’ fluted cover is noticeably different. Then I stumbled on this photograph of F A Rauner’s ‘World Master’. It is very similar, right down to the hatching on the embossed name and the engraved scroll-work that frames it. I can’t be certain without having actual specimens in my hands, but these really look like they came out of the same factory. I haven’t seen anything by Bohm or Seydel that matches the ‘Crackajack’ design like this one”.

There was no doubt about it F A Rauner’s ‘World Master’ has the same cover plate. In fact in 1929 due to the recession and Hohner buying out smaller harmonica manufacturers, Rauner, Seydel and Bohm merged. Interestingly Rauner was the first named and the manufacturing operation was out of Rauner’s Klingenthal factory. The amalgamation didn’t last long folding a few years later in 1933. F A Rauner was a big exporter overseas, they even made the Babe Ruth harmonica bat for the World Series of 1927. F A Rauner when blowing their own trumpet, or should I say mouth organ, said they were the second biggest manufacturer in the world (well least they didn’t say they were the largest). The ‘Scorcher’ a popular model of harmonica in Australia in the 1890’s had also been manufactured by F A Rauner.

So there it is, our quest for the maker is completed. With a high level of confidence I can conclude that F A Rauner were the manufacturer of Allan & Co’s, ‘Crackajack’. I think!

Special thanks to my fellow trekkers Pat & Ray. You can find their websites here http://www.patmissin.com and http://www.bushlarkmusic.com. They can take four bob out of the till and get themselves a cigar.

Ch SD

PS: I have derived a wealth of information from this journey and I plan to share this with you in upcoming Blogs. Next in line as a follow up to today’s is, ‘Collingwood’s Crackajack Collier’.