Hugh Martin was a noticeable character of Old Shanghai. I heard about him by random and have been fascinated by him partly due to our similar names. This is the 4th post about him. If you have not read the thread before, first go to starting post “Hugh Martin’s grave in Shanghai“.
Over the years, I have accumulated many artefacts from or about Old Shanghai. I was recently reviewing some documents I did not look at for many years. I recently realized that long before writing the first post about Hugh Martin, our paths already crossed. Many years ago I bought some original stationary from the company “Noel, Murray and Co”, with Hugh Martin listed as a director (see below). I did not remember it before running into those papers recently, but motivation for purchase was surely the name Hugh Martin listed on the paper.
Noel, Murray & Co Ltd, was the company where Hugh Martin worked most of his time in Shanghai. It was founded in 1881 by GW Noel, who in 1889 partnered with former Jardine & Matheson employee, WC Murray. The general Chinese name is 瑞和 / Tsay Wo in Cantonese as traditionally written in the Shanghai Hong List (Rui-he in modern Chinese), sometimes written as 瑞和洋行. After incorporation into a public company aroung 1906, the official Chinese name became 瑞和有限公司 (Tsay Wo public limited company). To show that it was a Brithish firm, the mention 英商 (Ying Shang = English Shop) is added on the above document. The comprador for 瑞和was 叶琢堂, a gentleman from Ningbo was also a banker and became one of the founders of the International Saving Society.
The address written for the company is 160 Canton Road. Same adress was found in 1941 Hong List. I am not sure exactly when the company moved at this location, but surely a few years beforehand. Like many companies operating in Old Shanghai, it was actually incorporated in Hong Kong, not in Shanghai. Another director was listed, A. P. Nazer, whose own company also appears separately in the business directories.
The company activity was mentioned as “Auctioneers, shares and general broker and commission agents”. Its most public activity was to run auctions. The location on 160 Guang Dong Road was their office but also the place where the auctions took place. I only got one insert in the press about an auction from the company, but they must have been organised very regularly and widely publicised.
As the items are normally shown during and sometimes before an auction, the main salesroom must have been quite large to accomodate all thoses items. The company also had specific paper sheets given out to people when they had purchased items at auctions. Some of those papers were also with this piece of stationary (picture below).
The above auction announcement in from May 1948, with Hugh Martin still mentioned as Managing Director although he went back to England in May 1947. The current Hong Kong business register lists a company incorporated as “Noel, Murray & Co Ltd” in 1938 in Hong Kong and dissolved in 1952. There must have been an earlier incorporation but probably under different provisions.
This post is the 4th post about Hugh Martin in Shanghai. The beginning of this thread is post “Hugh Martin’s grave in Shanghai“.
3 thoughts on “Letter from Hugh Martin”
As a collector myself, I clearly went to some auction house premises on GuangDong road in ShangHai city, off the Bund.
But it was only a few decades back, around 2006…