The Majestic Hotel in Shanghai (1924-1931) was a legendary hotel in Old Shanghai. I wrote a post several years ago about it, that is regularly toping the most read article list (See post “The rise and fall of the Majestic hotel” for more info). Since the building was destroyed in 1932, there are only few pictures of the hotel available. Going through my own collection, I recently realised that I have a few of them taken during a special occasion.
According to Nenad Djordjvic “Old Shanghai Clubs & Associations”, The Shanghai Horticultural Society was founded in the 1860’s. It had a yearly Autumn Flower Show, the last one taking place on 20-21 November 1940. It was certainly an important association as it received financial support from the Shanghai Municipal Council and was presided for many years by Horace Kadoorie, whose family owne the Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels company owner of the Majestic Hotel. The above picture also appeared in the North-China Sunday News Magazine Supplement on 24 Nov 1929 (Thanks Katya Kniazeva for finding it!). So these pictures must be from the 1929 Autumn Flower Show.
This picture is taken from the hotel, looking toward the winter garden. The Italian garden of the Majestic hotel where the event takes place was designed by Abelardo Lafuente, a spanish architect in Shanghai.
One of the few pictures of the beautiful iron work inside the hotel.
Search about New Asia Hotel continued after the original post “New Asia Hotel“. Not much seem to have been written in English about it, probably due to its off side location in Hongkou (Hongkew in old spelling) district and its short original life from 1932 to 1937 (before being taken by the Japanese authorities). My original post “New Asia Hotel” attracted attention from fellow researchers, who shared the information with us.
First of all, the original post showed one example of label, but I found another one. Style is very similar but this one is round, compared to the original with slightly different shape. The round shape is also smaller, with different font used though design is very similar.
Peter Hibbard, who has researched the Cathay Hotel and wrote a book about it (See post “Peace at the Cathay“) gave a lot of information of the original mission of the New Asia Hotel.
” The New Asia deserves special mention as it was a remarkable diversion from other ‘modern’ Chinese hotels. Before the Japanese arrived the hotel was a moral exemplar. The New Asia Hotel decided to break away from the prevailing standards of Chinese hotels by barring mahjong, women of ill-fame and opium. With branches of the hotel already operating in Hong Kong and Canton, the nine storey Shanghai hotel, situated on the corner of Tiendong and North Szechuen opened in January 1934. The aim of the Cantonese general manager, Mr. Cheng Bew, known to foreigners as Mr. B Jones, was to conduct business along the lines of the foreign hotels where the morals of young men may be preserved and where the charges will be within reasonable reach of the average man’s pocket.
The unusual combination of Christian fellowship and sound business practice brought, to the surprise of many, immediate and lasting success. In it’s first year of operation the hotel received over 72,000 guests. All of the hotel’s 450 staff were meticulously trained in the hotel’s own lecture rooms, with many of them being able to speak English.
The hotel company, in deliberately omitting a ballroom from the hotel, substituted a spacious roof garden for healthy recreation and games. However a small bar was to be found on the ground floor near a club-like lounge and reading room. The hotel invited international patronage, with the Chinese and foreign dining rooms being a favourite lunchtime haunt of Shanghai’s diplomatic circle. “
Peter also added specific information about the drastic change of policy after the takeover by the Japanese authorities. “The China Weekly Review May 28th, 1938:
Christian Hotel Converted into den of intrigue…
The New Asia Hotel …has been diverted to strange usage, so strange as to verge on the occult if one would believe all the stories told about the hostelry.
When opened it announced that it would be ‘operated in strict accordance with Christian principles,’ in sharp contrast to some other hotels in the city which catered to ‘the flesh and the devil.’ It had Gideon bibles in every room and was the first ‘strictly modern’ Chinese hotel in Shanghai. When the Japanese seized the Hongkew area, the Special Service section grabbed the New Asia and established its headquarters there. For a time it was operated by foreigners but now totally Japanese. Now serves as headquarters for around 30 different ‘puppet organisations.’ The New Asia is a hotbed of traitorous activity, housing all manner of organisations which the Japanese warlords are using fro breaking down Chinese resistance or misleading or confusing the public as to what really is going on.’ Secret agents of the organizations are sent into the International Settlement and the French Concession to solicit members. They are plentifully supplied with funds and their main purpose is to invite the prospect to the New Asia for a feat and party. Many Chinese newspapers carried stories of nightly orgies.”
After WW2, the hotel continued being used by the military. ” The China Daily Tribune 3.3.48 Air Transport under General Chennault – the Flying Tigers, moved into New Asia Hotel after V-J Day, later occupied by the US Army and then the Army Advisory Group in 1948.”
Finally, the building was designed architect S. A. Sayer, but American Chinese architect Poy Gum Lee (See post ” Poy Gum Lee lost building“) was also involved as a consultant. He was a rumored to be the actual designer but denied in a new paper post. He retained shares of the hotel after he returned to New York.
I have encountered another newspaper cut with advertising for Aquarius recently. With it design depicting a modern Shanghai women sipping a soda, it is probably from Old Shanghai time. The theme of modernity and luxury through drinking Aquarius is very similar to the other ads I found.
However the design seems very late in the period, probably more 1940s that earlier. Thus, I would guess the ads was designed in the 1945-1949 period, but I have no further information so far.
Although the French translation of “400 million customers” seems to have been a strong success Carl Crown did not gain long term fame in France. I never heard about him before coming to Shanghai. The discovery came while listening to Paul French, author of his biography, Paul French, during the 2007 Shanghai literary festival. Having heard about the famous Carl Crow map of Shanghai before I bought the book after French’s speech at Glamour bar.
Carl Crow was a very important figure of the old Shanghai, where he spent two periods of his life. He first started the China Press in Shanghai, a newspaper that was bringing an American voice to a scene dominated by the British North China Daily News. After moving to Japan, he became famous for being the first journalist to publish the “21 demands” from Japan to China in 1915.
Coming back to Shanghai in 1918 he created what became one of the main foreign advertising firm in Shanghai, helping foreign companies to sell their products throughout China. Carl Crow Inc also maintained the first and largest advertising network in Eastern China, importing the concept of advertising and creating the famous Shanghai advertising posters with Chinese girls in QiPao. These posters have since become one of icon of old Shanghai. He also founded the Shanghai Evening Post in 1929, the Shanghai newspaper that mostly supported the Nationalist cause and the development of China. He finally left Shanghai on the last American refugee boat after the Japanese invasion of the settlement in 1937 and finished his life in the US as a writer and adviser on Asian politics. MOFBA recently published a great article about the different locations of the Carl Crow Inc in Shanghai.
Carl Crow is the author of many books including “400 Million Customers“, “The Chinese are like that” and “Foreign Devils in the Flowery kingdom”. He crossed the path of Sun Ya Tsen, Chiang Kai Chek and his wife, Zhu En Lai, various Chinese warlords and many Shanghai known figures. He was part of the Shanghai publishing scene along with fellow Missourians such a Tom Millard and JP Powell.
It took me while to finish the book, not by lack of interest but by lack of time. Paul French definitely spent an enormous amount of time to research it. He travelled extensively to the US, HongKong and other locations to pull together information, and the book really feels like a great study. As an Old Shanghai fanatic, I found in it many information that I missed, many cross references to things I had heard of and many points of high interest. Carl Crow’s life takes us to the tumultous Chinese’s history from the 30’s. At the same time, I sometimes felt that without all my previous knowledge of these events and characters, I would probably have been a bit lost. “A tough Old China Hand” is a highly interesting book, but not one for the freshers in the Old Shanghai.
My previous post about Yangtszepoo docks attracted attention from some readers, here is some more information about the mother company of the docks, ” The new engineering & shipbuilding workd Ltd”.
The company did seem to enjoy fine ladies on its marketing material. Previous post was about an art deco painting of ladies printed on blotter, below one is the painting of a lady with as a metal frame. Definitely a promotional article for the company. Next artefact was also produced for the company, being hairpin and scissors, engraved “Ms H. E. Arnold, Opening ceremony, Yangtszepoo docks No2, February 21 1930.
As the site of the company seems to still exist partly, this will be a aim for an exploration later.
All Shanghai artefacts come in many forms and shapes. One of the interesting type is advertising objects, as they offer a real window in what people used and consumed at the time. I recently came across an interesting item, a advertising for Yangtzepoo Docks.
The paper is actually a blotter, the kind of thick paper designed to absorb the overflow of ink while writing with a fountain pen. Blotters have disappeared along with fountain pens, but they were very useful and popular in the time of Old Shanghai, including as advertising objects. I was first attracted by the picture, as it is a really nice painting. The image of finely dressed ladies in the wind helps to date the item. From the fashion, including men’s hats I would date it from early to mid 1930s.
The topic of the image used for the ad, has nothing to do with the services promoted, i.e. Shipbuilding and repair. It also has no specific link to Shanghai, not even in the background, though it must have been representative of western fashion at that time in Shanghai, as well as in England. Since the document was written in English only, one can assumed that it was sent to shipping lines and related businesses, both in Shanghai, the UK and other countries sending ships to Shanghai.
The Yangtszepoo dock was located on Yangtszepoo Road (today Yangshupu lu) and shown on below picture. One of its known engineer was Archie M Kerr. The Yangtszepoo dock was famous for its 584 feet (178 m dry docks). According to the 1928 “Port Directory of the Principal Foreign Ports” from the US Navy, it was the second longest dry docks in Shanghai.
The Yangtszepoo area was the main industrial point of Old Shanghai, with factories, docks and shipyards located along the river. Although this part of the city has been transformed a lot in the recent years, it remained a heavy industry and shipyard area for decades. 90 years later, the 584 feet long dock is still there, along with #2 docks that was officially opened on 21st February 1930.
Interestingly, Yang Chow Road nearby is still called YangZhou Lu, along with PingLian Road that is now Ping Lian Lu. Thorburg Road has been replaced by Tongbei Lu, which is near enough to probably have been the original Chinese name.
One of the latest post on Shanghailander, was focusing on milk distribution in Old Shanghai (See post “Shanghai Milkman” for more details). Among other things, I was showing an antic milk box from Culty Dairy. Soon after publication, a Shanghai antic dealer came to me with pictures of another milk box, from a different dairy company.
The box is much bigger than the Culty Dairy one, so maybe it was for a large family.
Sung Sung Dairy (生生牧场) was located at 175 Great Western Road (大西路175号), now the parking of Longemont hotel on West Yan’an Rd, close to Panyu Rd and to the Columbia country club (now site of modern Columbia Circle). In the 1947 Shanghai telephone directory, it was listed as Sun-Shine dairy.
Daily milk delivery has been a feature of English life since the end of the 19th Century. The milkman service was a full part of British culture, with 94% of the milk consumed delivered by the door in 1974. This is probably best illustrated by the 1966 British hit “No Milk Today”. Similar service was also available in Holland and in the USA. Being of such importance in the UK, it is of no surprise that a milkman service was available in Old Shanghai. What is more amazing, is that the service has survived in Shanghai and is still available nowadays.
Milk and milk products were an essential trade for European settlements in Asia, including Old Shanghai (see post “milk and butter” for more details). As the population of Old Shanghai grew, European farming was developed to supply local customers, including dairy products. They were quite a number of dairy farms in Shanghai, including the Liberty Diary on Connaught Road, in the International Settlement (today Kanding Lu), the Standard Milk Company on Great Western Road (today Yanan Xi Lu), or Model Diary Farm on Tifeng Road (today Wulumuqi Bei Lu).
Just like in the UK , milk was delivered daily in glass bottles. Every customer received a small metal box that was hanged outside the house, like the one pictures below. Early morning, the milkman would come, collect empty bottles from the previous day and put filled bottle instead. Bottles were normally half pints, i.e. 236 ml. Milk was delivered and consumed within a short time, it did not really need refrigeration.
Although milk is now mostly sold in cartons, using refrigators, the milkman service is still available in Shanghai, with milk delivered early morning daily. The little box is made of plastic, not of metal anymore but form and function are similar. Glass bottles are 195 ml, that is pretty close to the half pint.
Smoking tobacco in China existed long before the establishment of foreign Concessions, but cigarettes were definitely brought by foreigners. Although they were probably invented in South America, Cigarettes get their name from French as the were first largely smoked and produced first in France in the 1830s. The tobacco product became more and more popular worldwide after the development of cigarette manufacturing machines in the 1880s. By the 1920s, cigarette was known in most part of the World and was strongly linked with the export of Holywood movies.
Shanghai was no exception and served as a base for selling cigarettes all over China. The largest companies were British American tobacco and Nanyang brothers which both had their China headquarters in Shanghai. Cigarette manufacturing and trading was a massive and very lucrative business. Many local and foreign companies tried to get a piece of the market, including Russian-China cigarettes company mentioned in a previous article.
I bought the box pictured above a long time ago in an antic market. The long shape of the box was unusual (I later learned that it was to contain 100 cigarettes) and company name “Sino-Belgian Tobacco Co” attracted by attention. Since I never heard about this company, I assumed it was a local company made by a Belgian in Shanghai with Chinese partners. It definitely looked like a foreign brand packaging.
At first, I only found little information about the Sino-Belgian Tobacco Co. Only a couple of boxes like this showed up on the internet, but I later got some better results: Sino-Belgian Tobacco Co (華比煙草公司), incorporated 1919 at 147 Seward Road, later relocated to 1176 Woosung Road. It was actually created by two Belgian people, but I don’t have their names. Both location were in Hongkou, the original industrial district of Shanghai that expanded later into today’s Yangpu district. The building on Wusong lu (pictured below) has disappeared, probably destroyed when the road was enlarged, if not before.
Like other cigarette brands, it published advertising posters. This one is probably from the late 1930s or 40s with it’s geometrical font and simple motives.
I later bought the below smaller box from the same brand, and found the matching advertising.
Although I mostly mentioned Captain Cigarettes brand (船主 / 克浦), but they also had other brands including Young Lady (名妹) pictured below, Jockey (新骑师) and 大仙烏牌.
Brands of products in Old Shanghai have long been of interest to me (See post “Brands of Old Shanghai” for more details. After recently been interested in Coca-Cola and Aquarius drinks brands and advertising, I was sent the above ad by a friend. This probably a newspaper cut or a flyer. Although it displays numerous brands I got particularly interested in Hazelwood ice creams.
Hazelwood Ice Cream was made and sold in Shanghai by American merchant Henningsen Producing Company, Ltd. which was founded in 1889 by Danish businessman Fred Henningsen and his four sons. On April 6, 1919, a report stated that the American Haining Company sold imported milk in Shanghai. In 1926, Haining Yanghang’s ice cream products were launched in large numbers, with the English brand name “Hazelwood” and the Chinese name “Lotus” brand.
Above sketch by German artist David L Bloch, shows the Hazelwood factory in Shanghai, with the brand written on the delivery trucks. Although it displays profiles Shanghai landmark such as The Great World, Grosvenor House, the Cathay Hotel and Bank of China on the Bund, it’s probably not a reliable indication of the factory location, that is unknown.
Hazelwood was distributing cooling equipment to ice cream resellers, just like today. The above machines were ready for distribution. (picture source for above and below pictures: Tong Bingxue Twitter account).
The introduction of a full set of cold beverage production equipment from the USA allowed to mass produce multi-price products, adopting new-style refrigeration equipment and popular marketing methods. The brand name was also changed to “Beauty” brand. The products quickly occupied the market and achieved an absolute monopoly in the ice cream industry in Shanghai. It was sold in Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and other places. In 1938, the North American Refrigeration Company also produced “Miracle” ice cream.
Henningsen Production company was later changed to Shanghai Yimin Food No. 1 Factory, 上海益民食品一厂 that is still active today.