An amazing Ebay find, that I feel very privileged to own. These two are acrobats or clowns photographed in Moonta South Australia, circa 1880.  Mark St Leon, author of Circus, The Australian Story believes these two fellows could be William Hayes and Harry Benham (real name Gilmore, sometimes known as “Merry Benhamo”), who came to Australia from London about 1878 to join Burton’s Circus. The pair soon broke their contract and went off on their own as the English Circus and visited South Australia in 1880-81 before proceeding to Western Australia.

Possibly the same clowns are seen in Mark’s book on page 97. (See scan below) Note the pointed fingers in both pictures, the matching moustaches and the similarity of costumes. The outfits on the Duryea photo appear to be bi-colour stripes but on the other tri-colour. I would say Mr Moose-Tash is definitely the same man but his partner may be different in the second photo.  Once I know more about these fab fellows I will post more information.

Much thanks to Mark St Leon for his help with this post.

From Mark St Leon's book Circus, The Australian Story

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