More Aquarius advertising

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.

Carl Crow, A tough old China hand

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.

Book Cover
Book Cover

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.

Paul French has written numerous other books about Shanghai, including among others The Old Shanghai A-Z, City of Devils, Bloody Saturday and Beijing based Midnight in Peking, all of them Being the result of in-depth research.

This article was originally published in 2008, updated and republished in April 2021.

Advertising “The new engineering & shipbuilding works Ltd”

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.

Yangtszepoo Dock advertising

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.

Yangtszepoo dock advertising

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 dock was used by local ships for construction and repair, and was also used by ships from other location. An article from Old Boston blog, tell the story of the Wyberton a steam trawler that travelled from Boston (England) to Shanghai to be repaired at the Yangtszepoo docks and then sold to a Chinese fishing firm in 1922.

Yangtszepoo docks (1934), source Paul French’s China Rhyming blog

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.

More advertising articles for the company were found later. They are displayed on post: advertising-the-new-engineering-shipbuilding-works-ltd/

Sung Sung dairy box

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.

Shanghai Milkman

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).

1938 ad for The Liberty Diary
Standard Milk Co ad – Picture MOFBA

The most famous then and today being probably the Culty dairy, located at the corner of Avenue Joffre and Route Culty, today’s location of Shanghai librairy on Huai Hai Zhong Lu. It was a few step away from Hungarian architect Béla Matrai’s home and most well know building.

Shanghai libray, former location of the Culty Dairy

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.

Since very little packaging is used, this is also an environment friendly way of getting your milk. Bright food group was born form the merger of several food companies in Shanghai, including the Yimin N1 food company, the original ice cream company in Shanghai. They probably also included some of the former dairy farms and milk company, including Sun-Shine dairy, so service continued all those years. Bright also owns the Aquarius water and soda brand, that was available in Old Shanghai.

Now that I am regular customer, I enjoy my daily milk just like in Old Shanghai. This is a revival experience, similar to enjoying unchanged palmier from Park Hotel, or having lunch in Old Shanghai Deda Cafe.

Sino-Belgian Tobacco Co

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.

Picture MOFBA

I later bought the below smaller box from the same brand, and found the matching advertising.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Captain-Cigarettes-small-2.jpg
Picture MOFBA

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.

Picture MOFBA

Hazelwood Ice Cream

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.

Hazelwood factory in Shanghai

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.

Hazelwood ice cream ad from 1938

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.

Tasting Aquarius Orange Squash

In recent post “Aquarius then and now“, I wrote about water company Aquarius and it’s famous Orange Squash. I did not realize that the drink continued to be available in Shanghai for some many years.

In fact, the soda was popular in the 80s but seems to have disappeared since. The above ad is surely from later than the 30s and 40s, though it is difficult to know when. Fortunately, somebody decided to use the brand again. Although it’s still not widely available, I ran into a vending machine selling it… and could finally get a taste of it.

Just like croissants from Park Hotel (see post “Tasting Old Shanghai“) or going to Deda restaurant (see post “Deda Cafe“), this is a way to experience the taste of Old Shanghai, but also remained in Shanghai culture for decades. The nostalgia marketing campaign for Aquarius Orange Squash is targeting Shanghai people that used to drink in their youth during the 80s, decades later after they first came on the market. In that, they have become part of the new Shanghai culture, as much as the Old Shanghai one.

More on Coca-Cola ads

Recent post Coca-Cola in Old Shanghai, was dedicated to a particular ad for Coca-Cola in Shanghai in 1938. This lead into researching it’s largest competitor in Old Shanghai, the Aquarius water company. This pushed me into more research about Coca-Cola advertising in Old Shanghai.

This is probably the most famous ad for Coca-Cola in the early 30s. The lady in the picture was top movie star Ryan Lingyu. This particular ad was used for marketing material again few years ago.

Ads in magazine was a major channel a the time, like the one above, from 1938.

Mural was also a major advertising channel. I am not exactly sure where below picture was taken, but surely in the business district behind the Bund.