I recently bid successfully for a portfolio of photographs that had been collected by the late Welby Cooke, a member of the Wirth circus family and one of the riders in May Wirth’s troupe of riders.
This cabinet card was the earliest item in the collection, a montage produced by a Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1890 during the the tour of Wirth Bros Combined Circus & Wild West Show. As well as Wirth’s regular coterie of artists, the cabinet card displays images of Captain “Happy Jack” Sutton’s troupe of cowboys and Red Indians that Wirth’s imported from the US that year. This was the first complete “wild west” show to be toured through Australasia.
Sutton is shown at lower right wearing a moustache, long hair and cowboy attire. John Wirth, the senior Wirth brother, is shown in the top left hand corner. The montage also displays images of other members of the Wirth family as well as the engaged artists, Gus St Leon, Alf St Leon, Ida Vernon and Paddy Montgomery.
A rare item!