Jack’s Congregation

Melbourne, 1909 1909 was an eventful year for young newsboy Jack Church and his Crackajack mouth organ. He was providing news content in all the Melbourne papers he was selling; The Herald, The Punch and The Argus. It’s probably fair to say Jack had been dealt a pretty rough hand in life with little chance … Continue reading Jack’s Congregation

Nautical Jack

I viewed a repeat episode of American Pickers awhile ago where they stumbled across a Cracker Jack vending machine. It set my brain cogs into motion (backwards) revisiting our famous Crackajack mouth organs sold by Allan’s of Melbourne. The cogs clunked to a stop on both why the name Crackajack and why advertising featuring the … Continue reading Nautical Jack

Robbo’s Lauder Melodies

W V Robinson (1869-1926), a Canadian raconteur and mouth organ exponent, spent nearly a year ‘Down Under’ late 1924 into 1925 performing on the Tivoli circuit with J C Williamson Limited. He was on the undercard for popular Scottish comedian and singer Harry Lauder. W V was born in Quebec and lived in London opposite … Continue reading Robbo’s Lauder Melodies

Besses & Beatles

Besses o' th' Barn Band's visits to Australia, by the sound of it, had many similarities with the wild scenes experienced when the Beatles landed Down Under in the sixties. It wasn't just in the popularity stakes either, but also in the proliferation of punters taking up playing a brass instrument (or mouth organ - … Continue reading Besses & Beatles

Band Beaters

Canadian collector Doug Dawson sent photos of a couple of exquisite Cracker Jacks recently added to his ever expanding collection. F A Rauner sent his models down under (with a little tweak to the name) to Allan & Co. of Melbourne. Sláinte Doug. Built to beat the band. Probably not ideal - better to be … Continue reading Band Beaters

Masters of Jazz

Another vintage (antique?) harmonica to the Shep fish tank (empty of fish & water) situated in the Front Bar. One I hadn’t seen before, with box, in good nick and double (mouse ear) tabs. Way beyond my price range, but with a little bit of negotiation (and perhaps good fortune) I obtained this beauty at … Continue reading Masters of Jazz

Kilburn Queen

I’m a Crackajack man (nobody knows or understands). Have to be, being born in Melbourne. Boomerangs were Sydney - sold by J Albert & Son. Crackajacks were vended in Melbourne by Allan & Co. This affinity originated with the find of an early Crackajack Concert Grand on a family holiday in Rye and it sent … Continue reading Kilburn Queen

Professor & Paderewski

Finally I've been able to peek inside the Crackajack tutor booklet. A few gems were discovered from within its pages. The diamond was the Professor's tips on playing the instrument that fits in a waistcoat pocket. Was the Professor the one they termed the Paderewski of the mouth organ? What is a Paderewski? More on … Continue reading Professor & Paderewski