Organettes and Other Unusual Roll Playing Instruments

Tournaphone Organette

The Tournaphone Organette is 18 1/2" wide by 14 1/2" deep by 12" high. It uses a 25 key 13 1/4" wide roll. An expression shutter is in the lid. The organette reeds sound when a hole in the roll passes over the reeds mounted in the centre allowing air to enter. Made by The Tournaphone Music Company, Worcester, Mass, USA.


Made by Euphonika, the Herophon Organette uses a square perforated cardboard tune sheets. The cardboard square remains stationary while the 24 note reed organ mechanism revolves underneath it. The mechanism uses keys to sense the holes in the cardboard. Circa 1905.


Introduced in 1928 by the Rolmonica Music Company of Baltimore, Maryland, the Rolmonica was sold as "the only Mouth Organ that plays paper rolls". All you had to do was turn the crank and blow. Built into a Bakelite frame the Rolmonica measures 4" by 3 5/8" it plays a mouth organ through a 12 note roll . The Rolmonica cost between 1 and 2 dollars in 1930.

Q-R-S Clarola

The Q-R-S Clarola uses a 16 note paper roll. When an opening in the roll uncovers a reed hole in the instrument the note plays. The Clarola ("clarinet") is 12" long and sold for $1.89 in the early 1930's. Also available was a Saxophone shaped version called a "Play-a-Sax". Both Play-a-Sax and Clarola use the same rolls.

Player Concertina "Tanzbar"

Made by A. Zuleger of Leipzig, Germany and sold worldwide from shortly after 1900 to the 1930's, the Tanzbar (Translation is "Dancing Bear") was sold in many different varieties. Power is provided by opening and closing the concertina which also advances the roll by a ratchet mechanism. The above Tanzbar is 28 note key operated, and one of three Tanzbar's in the collection.

"Triola" - Mechanical Zither

The Triola mechanical zither was popular in the late teens to 1920's. Using a 25 note paper roll to activate keys, it is played by turning a crank at the lower right of the instrument. Only the treble notes are played automatically by the roll, the bass notes are played by hand by following the numbers printed on the rolls and strumming the appropriate group of bass strings marked on the zither.