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Circus money bag

  • 1950-1963
This money bag was used to hold the box office takings at Wirths' Circus.

The Wirth name has a special place in Australian circus folklore. Billed as Australia's own 'greatest show on earth', the Wirth Brothers' Circus was indeed one of the world's great circuses. The Wirths' Circus collection documents the family's involvement in the business from the 1870s until 1963.

The sons of a German immigrant, the Wirth brothers began their show careers as members of their father's travelling band. They established a variety troupe, developed their performing skills and began touring as a small circus. Despite the hardships associated with travelling in wagons throughout the rural districts of the Australian colonies, their circus grew rapidly. Philip and George Wirth had the vision to do conduct their enterprise on a large scale. They recruited star attractions from Europe and North America. Members of the extended Wirth family featured as artists. Their circus included a menagerie of exotic animals. In 1893 the Wirth brothers took the circus on a seven year international odyssey to South Africa, South America, England, Ceylon, India, Burma, Singapore and Java.

Wirths' became Australia's pre-eminent circus, travelling around the country by rail and visiting New Zealand regularly. Posters proclaiming that the circus was 'Coming by special trains' created anticipation and excitement for country people. Watching elephants skilfully push and pull wagons from the railway siding to the circus site was a spectacle in itself. Wirths' Circus toured from 1880 until its demise in 1963.

Peter Cox
August, 2012


Object No.


Object Statement

Money bag, cotton, made by the Bank of New South Wales, used by Wirths' Circus, Australia, 1950-1963

Physical Description

Cream money bag with dirt stains. Text on both sides 'You can bank on the Wales. Bank of New South Wales. First bank in Australia.'



255 mm




Used by Wirths' Circus. Kept by Marizles ('Rill') Wirth, until her death in 2007. Donated to the Powerhouse Museum by her nieces Margaret and Georgina Wirth.


Credit Line

Gift of the Wirth family, 2012

Acquisition Date

3 September 2012

Cite this Object


Circus money bag 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Circus money bag |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.