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National Museum of Australia

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Ritmeester brand wooden cigar box


Ritmeester brand wooden cigar box

Object information

Physical description

A Ritmeester brand wooden cigar box with black lettering. The lid has two small brass hinges and a circular tin seal is attached to the top near the middle rear. The box was used to store toy games' dice, houses, hotels and playing pieces.

Statement of significance

The Vienna Mozart Boys Choir collection no. 1 contains souvenirs, toys, costumes, vinyl records, school books and other items that belonged to the 20 boys aged from 9 to 14 who toured the world from December 1938 to September 1939 as the Vienna Mozart Boys Choir.

Having toured throughout the United States, the Pacific and Australia they became stranded in Perth when the ship on which they were to return to Austria was requisitioned. Germany had just invaded Poland and Australia had entered the Second World War. Dr Daniel Mannix, then the archbishop of Melbourne, offered that his parishioners would provide foster care in return for the boys forming a choir at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. The boys soon started school and attempted to learn English as they learnt their lessons. Remaining in Australia, however, likely saved their lives, as they came of age during the war and would have been conscripted into the German army. Only one returned to live in Vienna after the war.

Object information

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