Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:28 pm

JAMES MOTION & Co.

Flint Street, Singapore

James Motion, born, 1845, died 1893.


JAMES MOTION and Co., Watchmakers, Jewellers and Opticians, Flint Street.

Gold, silver, and precious stones seem to have been specially created for the many purposes to which they are devoted. Apart from their unexcelled materialistic qualities, it is difficult to conceive what could take their place in the innumerable ornamental uses they serve. It might be argued that ornamentation is an unnecessary item in our environments; but, as a matter of fact, civilisation is based on ornamentation. It first manifested itself in decoration with shells, feathers, and human scalps; and when gold, silver, and precious stones took their place, the race had made great advance from the sloughs of its pristine animalism. Modern jewellery is eloquent of the progress that has been attained not only in aesthetic ornamentation, but in mechanical and scientific achievements, and the glittering stock in the premises of Messrs. James Motion and Co. illustrates the ingenuity, the art, and the skill exercised in their manufacture. Very few of the many persons who pass the somewhat prosaic exterior of this firm's establishment realise the variety of its stock—a stock that represents some of the cleverest attainments of the leading manufacturers of such goods throughout the world. Of articles for personal adornment and utility, such as rings, brooches, chains, studs, links, etc., the assortments are particularly commendable, and folks who may have sought in vain elsewhere for specially uncommon designs and novelties in this direction are sure to find in Messrs. James Motion and Co,'s establishment specimens that will at once appeal. As a matter of fact, considerable difficulty must be experienced in making a choice, and when one has settled on any particular sample, another look round invariably reveals something much better and more suited to the nature of the gift or its circumstance. The way in which gold is worked into combination with precious stones of all kinds could keep one inspecting them indefinitely. There arcarticles here that the richest millionaires might present to their wives, fianeces, or sisters with pride and satisfaction. There are jewels of the first water that scintillate like living fires in all colours of the rainbow.

The display of watches is an exhibition full of interest as showing the numerous varieties on the market, ranging from strong serviceable kinds, within the reach of the most straitened exchequers, to specimens that only the wealthy can buy. People contemplating the purchase of a clock that can be depended on—not a trashyarticle, fit only for the scrap heap, or a mere ornament that will lose its utility in a short period—will do well to call upon the firm and see the variety they keep. The stock of cunning gold and silver work in the form of table utensils and presentation plate of every description shows what can be accomplished by careful selection and a knowledge of the best sources of supply.

Probably the most noteworthy section of the stock is the fine assortment of chronometers, ships' compass adjusters, spectacles, sextants, binoculars, telescopes, patent logs, drawing instruments, thermometers, etc., which would be difficult to improve upon for variety and quality. Nautical goods are the firm's leading speciality, and, needless to say, their resources in this direction are well taken advantage of.

In the operative departments work of the most delicate and difficult character is performed by specialists conversant with every operation which they may be called upon to undertake. Briefly, the firm is one in which the utmost confidence may be placed for their beautiful and serviceable goods and their unexcelled workmanship.

The business is the oldest of its kind in Singapore, and has been established about half a century. The firm's name is, it will be noticed, extremely appropriate. The proprietor is Mr. D. Maw.


Source: Seaports of the Far East - Historical and Descriptive, Commercial and Industrial Facts, Figures & Resources - A.Macmillan - 1907



JAMES MOTION & Co.

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Fifty years ago, when the trade in Singapore was in its infancy, there were only two, or three watchmakers in the town, and there was naturally ample scope for Mr. Motion, who at that time started in business as watchmaker, jeweller, and nautical instument maker. Upon his death in 1893, Mr. Lawson took over the business, and he was succeeded four years later by Mr. Maw, the present proprietor. This gentleman hails fra' Scotland, and before joining Messrs. Motion, he was for fifteen years with Messr. John Little & Co., Ltd. The original building occupied by the firm was pulled down and re-errected in 1880, in Flint Street, opposite the Post Office. The firm are makers of Chronometers, clocks, and watches, and all kinds of nautical instruments, as well as being jewellers. Mr. Maw is a certificated compass adjuster, and is recognised by the Board of Trade. Consequently compass-adjusting forms a special feature of the firm's business. They are also agents for Lord Kelvin and Heath's nautical instruments. A large and valuable stock is always kept on hand. Mr Maw is a noted sportsman. He was the first European to shoot tigers in Singapore by driving them out of the jungle into the open and shooting them on foot. Seven of these beasts of prey have fallen to his gun. Years ago the island of Singapore was a big-game hunter's paradise, and, as recently as ten years ago, Mr. Maw often saw on the island samburs, wild pigs, tigers, porcupines, plandoh, and kerjangs (barking deer). He is as keen as ever on his favourite pastime.


Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

Daniel Maw was listed as a qualified Juror at Singapore in 1904, he was described as a partner in the firm of James Motion & Co., his private address was recorded as 4, Dublin Road, Singapore.

Source: Straits Settlements Government Gazette - 21st October 1904


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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:53 am

HIP HING & Co.

54, North Bridge Road, Singapore

Sinapore's shops contain many agreeable surprises for those who visit them. Often the exterior is not very imposing or attractive, but a valuable stock is kept inside and a flourishing business is done. This is the case with the establishment carried on under the chop of Hip Hing at 54, North Bridge Road by Mr. Tam Kim Sang, the proprietor. Since this business was started eight years ago it has gained a well-deserved reputation as a high-class jewellers, watchmakers, and gold and silversmiths. As a proof of the excellence of the goods produced, it may be mentioned that on the occasion of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the souvenir presented to their Royal Highnesses by the Singapore Municipal Commissioners was manufactured by Messrs. Hip Hong & Co. Mr. Tam Kim Sang is a native of Canton, but has resided in Singapore for twenty-three years. He has numerous other business interests, including a share in a timber business in one of the neighbouring Dutch colonies. His two sons, Tam Wei and Tam Qui, are receiving an English education at the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:49 pm

CHOP HANG SENG

LOY KUAN FOON

36, Newbridge Road, Singapore

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The business carried on under this style is known throughout the Straits Settlements as one of the largest and most modern goldsmiths' establishments in the colony. The firm's commodious premises at 36, New Bridge Road are a hive of industry, for over seventy skilled goldsmiths are employed from early morning until late at night beating gold into leaf. It is upwards of thirty years since the business was established by Mr. Loy Kuan Foon, the sole proprietor, and in that time branches have been established at Kuala Lumpor, Hongkong, Shanghai, and Canton. The Kuala Lumpor branch has developed until now it is equal in importance to the parent business in Singapore and gives employment to a staff of close on a hundred. The gold is mostly purchased in Hongkong, through the firm's branch there, and there is great demand for the leaf. Mr. Loy Kuan Foon is a native of Canton, and came to Singapore thirty-six years ago. He has two sons. The elder has been educated in English, and the younger will shortly commence a similar training.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:15 am

TONG SING (HUNG SENG)

LEONG SONG THING

33, Pudoh Street, Kuala Lumpor

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The art of the Chinese gold and silversmiths finds pleasing expression in all descriptions of jewellery at the establishment of Mr. Leong Song Thing, No. 33, Pudoh Street, where a staff of upwards of fifty expert workmen is employed. Although a branch of the well-known Singapore business of Hung Seng, the shop in Kuala Lumpor is much the larger of the two, and is one of the most important of numerous branches in the Federated States. Every kind of jewellery is manufactured, and orders of all kinds are executed with finish and dispatch. Mr. Leong Song Thing, the managing partner, is a native of Canton, and has been connected with the business in Kuala Lumpor for the past seventeen years. Previous to that he spent eleven years in the Singapore establishment. His eldest son is employed in the mines office at Rawang and Serendah as mines overseer, and his fourth son is being educated in Japan for the army.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:53 am

KWONG HING LOONG & Co.

47, 48, 49, High Street, Singapore

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A firm which occupies extensive premises in High Street and carries on a large business is that of Kwong Hing Loong & Co., at Nos. 47, 48, and 49. The speciality here is the Canton blackwood, for which the firm has long been famous. It is from this shop that many well-known Chinese gentlemen have furnished their houses so beautifully with blackwood furniture, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. High-class jewellery, Japanese and Chinese silver-ware, and all descriptions of watches and Japanese curios are kept in stock. Matting and the best rubber-tyred Japanese rickshas are also to be obtained here. The firm employ about one hundred skilled gold and silver smiths.

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Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:17 am

SENG HENG & Co.

13, 14, South Bridge Road, Singapore

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An old-established Chinese goldsmiths' shop is that of Seng Heng, Nos. 13-14, South Bridge Road. Members of the family of the present proprietor have carried on this business for upwards of fifty years, and twenty-five or thirty expert workmen are now employed. The proprietor is Mr. Yeo Khia Hee, who came from China as a boy and took over the management. He has now retired from active work, however, and the business is carried on by his brother, Yeo Khia Yee, and his son, Yeo Ghee Siew. Mr. Yeo Khia Hee has had conferred upon him the Chinese title of Mandarin of the Fifth Button, and is a member of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. He has four sons, three daughters, eleven grandsons, and five granddaughters.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:02 pm

SHIMIZU SHOTEN

1, Chrome Street, Ginza, Toyko

later, Yamazaki Shoten, Yamazaki K.K (Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo), Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, and now known as Ginza Tanaka

This business was founded by Kamekichi Yamazaki and styled as Shimizu Shoten. He opened in Tokyo in 1892. The store subsequently moved to the Nihombashi area. In 1926 the company name became Yamazaki Shoten and the shop moved to the the most fashionable district in Tokyo, Ginza.

In 1930 the business was transferred to Tanaka Shoten K.K. (now called Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo).

In 1954 the company re-located to 1, Chrome Street, Ginza.

In 1964 they manufactured the commemorative medals for the Tokyo Olympic Games, and in 1970 they manufactured the commemorative medals for the Osaka Exposition. Also in 1970 a new store was opened in Osaka.

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The company name changed from Yamazaki K.K. to Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry in 1990, and in 2002 the company re-styled yet again and the company name became Ginza Tanaka and remains so today.

The 'S' within a star mark is one of the company's trademarks, it was introduced by Tanaka kikinzoku Jewelry, who were established in 1926.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:09 pm

KOKICHI MIKIMOTO

1, Motosukiya-cho, 4-Chrome, Kyobashi-ku, Tokyo

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K. Mikimoto - Tokyo - 1906

Kokichi Mikimoto was born on the 25th January 1858 at Toba on the Shima peninsula. He developed a keen interest in the pearl industry, especially the local Ise pearls, and was the first to attempt to grow pearls within his own purpose made oyster beds. Using the Akoya oyster, known for producing the finest pearls, he experimented with introduction of a particle into the flesh of the oyster and in 1893 he had his first success with the discovery of the world's first semi-spherical cultured pearl, and was granted a patent for his methods in 1896, and in 1905 he achieved his dream with the world's first spherical cultured pearl.

In 1899 he opened his first shop in Tokyo's Ginza district, and this was followed by outlets in London in 1913, and later, Paris and other cities around the world. Mikimoto also showcased his pearl jewellery at the world's major exhibitions. In 1907 he established his jewellery factory, it was Japan’s first full-scale jewellery production facility.

Although company's image was high in the United States, no doubt helped by the publicity given when Joe DiMaggio gave Marilyn Monroe a 16 inch strand of Mikomoto's Akoya cultured pearls during their honeymoon in Japan in 1954, said to be her most cherished item of jewellery, it was not until 1959 that Mikimoto opened in New York's Takashimaya department store, and it was not until 1975 that they opened their stand alone store on Fifth Avenue.

Kokichi Mikimoto died on the 21st September 1954, aged 96 years.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:45 pm

WEILL & ZERNER

19, Stamford Road, Singapore

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A wealth of gems and jewellery is to be seen at the shop of Messrs. Weill & Zerner in Stamford Road. Diamonds are imported in loose packages and as set gems from the celebrated mines in Kimberley, South Africa, and many valuable stones which adorn the Rajas of the East and the royal family of Siam have come through this firm from Brazil and Borneo. Pearls are obtained from Ceylon, the Moluccas, the Philippines and China; rubies and sapphires from Burma and Siam, and emeralds from India, whilst a great quantity of jewellery is purchased from England and France. Watches and chronometers of every description are offered for sale, and a particularly heavy trade is done in the Rosskopf patent watch. A large wholesale business is done with the trade. Mr. Chas. Weill, the senior partner, is resident in Paris and has had twenty years' experience of the jewellery trade in the East, whilist Mr. Zerner and Mr. Alfred Montor, the partners in Singapore, have had an almost equally long experience. Much of the firm's business is transacted by four European representatives. who travel between India and China and are always prepared to accept orders for special designs to be manufactured at the Singapore premises or sent to London or Paris for execution. The showroom of the firm at 19, Stamford Road contains stock worth many thousands of pounds. The firm was established in the year 1903 by Mr. M. Zerner and Mr. Alfred Montor. Mr. Zerner received his education and business training locally, and was for six years in the Civil Service. During the past eighteen years his interest has lain in its present sphere.

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Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:07 pm

I.A. DANKER

Rangoon

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I A Danker - Rangoon - 1881

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:04 am

CHEH YEE WO

217, South Bridge Road, Singapore

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A good idea is afforded of what hives of industry the native shops are by paying a visit to the premises of Messrs. Cheh Yee Wo, gold and silver smiths. For twelve years this firm has carried on business at No. 217, South Bridge Road, and the manager, Mr. Cheh Yee Cheong, is an eminently practical man. With a staff of about twenty men constantly employed, the firm have a large output of highly finished articles. The head office is in Kuala Lumpor, and there is a branch in Canton. Mr. Cheh Seng Tong, father of the present proprietor, was the founder. Mr. Cheh Yee Wo was born in the Straits Settlements and takes a great interest in the affairs of the colony. He is a member of the Chinese Reading Room and of the Chinese Y.M.C.A.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:40 am

F. GRAHLERT & Co.

Bangkok

Mr. F. Grahlert came to Bangkok some eighteen years ago as jeweller to his Majesty the King. A few years later he started business on his own account, his shop, which is in close proximity to the royal palaces, being the first of its kind opened in the city. He still enjoys the patronage of his Majesty the King; for the firm are jewellers to the Court by special appointment, and are constantly being entrusted with the execution of importantant commissions by their Majesties the King and Queen of Siam and his Royal Highness the Crown Prince. The company employ upwards of fifty native craftsmen, who are highly skilled in the art of fashioning gold and silver into articles of most artistic and delicate design, and their work is very justly and naturally is held in the highest favour. The firm's premises would well repay an inspection; their stock is a large and varied one, and is effectively and tastefully displayed. Whether the articles are of Oriental or European design, their quality can be guaranteed.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:51 am

S. TISSEMAN & Co.

Bangkok

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S. Tisseman & Co. - Siam - 1906


Perhaps to be indentified with the above: The marriage of Mr. Samuel Tisseman to Miss Margaret Beatrice Long, at Bangkok, took place on the 27th January, in the church of the Holy Rosary and at the British Consulate.

Source: The Straits Times - 7th February 1902

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:19 am

G. OTOMUNE & Co.

Raffles Place, Singapore

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One of the oldest firms engaged in the Japanese curio trade in Singapore is Messrs. G. Otomune & Co., whose headquarters are at Osaka, Japan, where they have been established for nearly a century. It was about thirteen years ago that Mr. T. Tahara was sent from Japan to found a branch in Singapore. A small beginning was made in the firm's present premises in Raffles Place, and by the careful selection of goods, courtesy, and attention to details, the business developed steadily, and Mr. Tahara, after seeing the branch firmly established, he was able to return to Japan at the end of five years, and is now the manager of Messrs. Otomune's Headquarters. The business at the present time is divided into two departments, wholesale and retail, which are stocked with all descriptions of Japanese glass, silver, copper, bronze, and porcelain ware and laquer goods. The firm's customers include large numbers of the passengers passing through the port and the most prominent residents of Singapore and the Federated Malay States. The manager is Mr. K. Kaidzu, who has held the position for about eight years. He is a native of Osaka, and, after being educated at the Osaka Higher Commercial School, he entered Messrs. Otomune's service at headquarters. He remained there for two years and then came to Singapore.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu May 03, 2012 8:05 am

P. ORR & SONS

Sule Pagoda Road, Rangoon

Although the main business of P. Orr & Sons was Madras based, they did have for many years a branch in Rangoon.

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P. Orr & Sons - Rangoon - 1903

The Rangoon branch, I believe, closed after being looted by Japanese troops when they occupied Burma during WWII. It is said that just prior to the invasion, the store manager selected the finest pieces from the stock and walked, carrying the stock on his back, all the way to the Orr's Head Office in Madras. After hostilities ceased Orr's were represented in Burma by an agency only.

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P. Orr & Sons - Rangoon - 1914

It is also said that it was in the workshops of the Rangoon Branch of Orr's that some of the development of the 'Oyster' watch movement took place for Rolex.

The Rangoon workshops produced their own version of 'Swami' silver depicting scenes from the Jataka tales.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Mon May 14, 2012 4:08 am

ING WO

Lower Bazaar,Hong Kong

Example of the mark attributed to Ing Wo:

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby rauls » Sat May 26, 2012 1:07 pm

Nanking Store (南京商店)
Late 19c ~ 1930s
444 Szechuen Road, Shanghai

It possibly has no relationship with Nanking Jewelry in Nanking.

The following marks have been used:
NK
NANKING
NANKING STORE
京南 - usually with the 'NK' mark together

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Note:
Nanking is the Wade-Giles romanization style of the Chinese word "南京", in Pinyin, it should be "Nanjing". "南京" means "the south capital". The Chinese mark was "京南" because the Chinese scripts wrote from top to bottom and then right to left. "Szechuen" is also the Wade-Giles, spells as "Sichuan" in Pinyin now. Szechuen/Sichuan Road is still existed as a major commercial street in Hongkou district of Shanghai. The other important road in Hongkou is Broadway Road (Daming Road currently), several companies and stores opened here such as Tuck Chang.
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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:04 pm

YAMATO & Co.

41, High Street, Singapore

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Messrs. Yamato & Co., curio dealers, have the distinction of being under the patronage of T.R.H. the Duke and Dutchess of Connaught. At their spacious premises, 41, High Street, they display a very fine collection of Japanese goods. The proprietor is Mr. S. Nagano, who came to the colony in 1897. Having a wide experience in curios before leaving Japan, he has contractors for the supply of furniture, etc., to the Japanese Navy and the fleet of the Nippon Kaisha.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

Perhaps to be indentified with Yamato Brothers & Co. of Kobe, Japan?

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:32 am

LEVY HERMANOS

Singapore

(For details of the other branches of Levy Hermanos, see earlier post)

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Almost everyone who travels East for the first time is tempted to purchase articles of Oriental jewellery, either for personal use or for presents, by reason of their comparative cheapness. In every Eastern port, therefore, there are firms who make special arrangements to supply these goods, and Messrs. Levy Hermanos are prominent among them. The head office of the firm is in Paris, where it was founded thirty-five years ago. So great has been its growth that it now embraces most of the countries of the Far East, having branches at Manilla, Iloilo (Philippines), Hongkong, Shanghai, Tientsin, Port Arthur, Kharbin, Bombay, and Singapore. The Singapore branch was opened in 1904, and is under the management of Messrs. F. Dreyfus and B. Engelke. They deal in jewellery and all descriptions of gold and silverware, both of European and Eastern manufacture. They also make jewellery to order, and import every kind of precious stone from Europe, India, and Ceylon. They are agents for the well-known Omega watch, the Aspirator Company (vacuum cleaner), and the International Talking Machine Company, and they have on show fresh novelties by almost every mail. In addition to a large resident and travelling European clientele they do an extensive business with Rajas of the native states, and they keep their own staff of workmen, including specially trained watchmakers. At Singapore, special features are musical instruments of all descriptions and ornamental statuary, and in addition they represent the makers of the Renault Freres and Braier motor-car, Ste. Trefle a Quatre Feuilles, which twice won the Gordon-Bennett Cup (1904-5) as well as the reliability trials in India last year. The authorised capital of the firm is ten million francs.

Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya - Arnold Wright - 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:53 pm

MITSUI BUSSAN KAISHA

Tientsin


THE HOUSE OF MITSUI

Among the world's greatest commercial houses there are few, if any, that excel in history, wealth, or manifold interests the celebrated house of Mitsui. In the marts of men there is none that commands more confidence and respect; its integrity is like that of the Bank of England; its resources are enormous and its story is unique. During the compilation of these articles on the business activity of Hong Kong the writer had the pleasure of an interview with the genial and courteous manager of Messrs. Mitsui and Co.'s local branch, Mr. Seijiro Tanaka, who has been with the firm some ten years, and from whom was received the following information regarding its rise and development, which, although more suited to a volume on Japan, well merits the attention we give to it here, on account of the prominent position which the respective branches occupy, and the influence they exert in the ports forming the subject of the present publication. Apart therefrom, the records of the house will, we trust, be found not only interesting and useful to those having dealings with it in any of its numerous departments, but to everyone who would learn something of Japanese enterprise, as manifested by the foremost mercantile undertaking in the land of the Rising Sun.
The Mitsui families, originating from the famous Fujiwara clan, can be traced from Takashige Mitsui, titled the "Echigonokami," who lived as the feudal lord of Namadzuye castle in the 15th century toward the fall of the Ashikaga Shoguns. Takashige was succeeded by Takatsugu; but Takayasu the son of Takatsugu moved to Matsuzaka, also in Ise, where he settled as a private citizen, laying the foundation of the present Mitsui firm. In the middle of the 16th century, Sokubei Takatoshi, the son of Takayasu, became a merchant, entering upon altogether a new career. His son, Toshisada, moved the firm to Kioto, and also started a dry-goods store, the present Mitsui-Gofukuten in Tokio. It was not, however, till the time of Hachirobei Takatoshi that the business of the firm was fully extended so as to lay the foundation for the present flourishing state of the Mitsui House. Takatoshi invented and introduced the system of cash-retailing; further, he organised the system for the collection and remittance of money, and also the carriers' business, and this, be it remembered, when economic science was but in a very rudimentary condition, when monetary transactions were almost unknown in the country. In 1687 the Mitsuis, represented by Takatoshi, were especially appointed by the Tokugawa Government as its purveyor and public exchange controller, and were given in recognition of these services an estate in Yedo. In 1723, observing the verbal will of Takatoshi, his son Hachirobei Takahira laid down in writing the Family Rules so valuable to the history of the Mitsui House, by which he and his five brothers pledged themselves to form a collective body of partners, working with a collective capital. This agreement drawn up by Hachirobei Takahira is the very same Family Rules upon which the whole undertaking of the Mitsuis is worked to-day.
With the restoration of the Meiji Era, an important epoch was opened in the historv of the firm. While the new Government under the direct control of the Crown was in process of consolidation, the Mitsuis acted as its principal financing agents, and it was in a great measure due to this that the country was enabled to bridge over a great crisis with which it was then threatened from within and without. As the rewards for these financial and other public aids they rendered to the country. Baron Hachiroemon Mitsui, the present head of the house, was created a peer, and other members or partners were all given various kinds of titles.
After rendering a vigorous aid toward the State and thereby passing through a financial strain, the Mitsuis now applied themselves with new energy and vigour to the reform and amelioration of their business undertaking: somewhat on the model of Western procedure.
In 1876 the old Exchange House was transformed into a bank on a joint-stock system; this was the first private bank established in Japan. In the same year a new, yet a most important undertaking was organised for the purpose of general trading, and more particularly for that of foreign trade. The firm well-known as Mitsui Bussan Kaisha in the East, and as Mitsui and Co. in Europe and America, is the outcome of this enterprise. In 1889 the house acquired from the Government the concession of the Miike Coal Mines, and accordingly Mitsui Kozan Kaisha (the Mining Department) was established in order to control this and many other mines owned by the firm.
The sphere of influence which the Mitsuis possess in the economical world of Japan is so vast and extensive that it would be difficult to give anything like a comprehensive survey of it. The undertakings of the Mitsuis are, however, divisible into four distinct departments, namely, Mitsui Ginko (Banking Department)? Mitsui Bussan Kaisha (Foreign and Domestic Trading Department), Mitsui Kozan Kaisha (Mining Department), and Mitsui Gofukuten (Dry-goods Department).
They are solely owned by the eleven partners of Mitsui conjointly, who assume an unlimited responsibility for the liabilities of the above-mentioned four companies. They comprise nearly every branch of business and enterprise in the commercial and industrial worlds of Japan—Banking, Mining, Home Commerce, Foreign Trade, Shipping, Fisheries, Agency Business, Warehouse Business, Retail Trade, Iron and Engineering Works.

MITSUI BUSSAN KAISHA

It is in this department that the power and resources of the firm are put forth to their fullest extent, and by which the name of Mitsui is principally known to the western nations. The Mitsuis, while engaged in banking and other business for more than two centuries, were constantly projecting to extend their hands to the foreign trade especially in those parts of the world very little known to Japan, Thus in 1876 Mitsui Bussan Kaisha, or Mitsui and Co. as it is styled in Europe and America, in its present form was first established,. Takenosuke and Yonosuke Mitsui representing the family interests at that time, assisted by an able staff. Since that year the Company's business has been extended in every direction so as to produce its present flourishing condition.
The Mitsui Bussan Kaisha engages in almost every kind of export and import trade, having branches in nearly every part of the world, the aggregate amount of business transacted for a year being nearly Yen. 90,000,000, out of which the amount of foreign trade alone figures at Yen 70,000,000—that is, one-seventh of the whole foreign trade of Japan.
The principal articles of the Company's export trade are coal, cotton yarn, raw silk, habutai, rice, cotton cloth, copper, silver, camphor, coral, cement, timber, railway sleepers, sulphur, matches, etc.
The principal imports of the Company are steamers, warships, ordnance locomotives, steel bridges, electrical machines, cotton wool, cotton cloth, woollen cloth, rice, raw and refined sugar, indigo, beans, bean-cakes, malt, paper, canned meats, wheat, flour, opium, leaf tobacco, drugs, raw materials for artificial manure, steel materials, pig iron, iron materials, wires, lead, tin, zinc, machinery of all kinds, railway materials and equipment, etc.
The Company represents several well-known English, European and American firms in Japan, and some in China and Corea as well. Among them we may mention the following:—American Bridge Co., Ltd., New York; Carnegie Steel Co., Ltd., Pittsburg; General Electric Co., Ltd., New York; Vickers Sons and Maxim, Ltd.. Barrow-in-Furness; John Musgrave and Sons, Ltd., Bolton; Mather and Platt, Ltd., Manchester; Belliss and Morcum, Ltd., London; Platt Brothers and Co., Ltd., Oldham.
The Company also acts as agents in Japan for the undermentioned insurance Companies, viz. :—The Atlas, the British America, the Guardian, the Palatine, and the Royal Exchange. And in India, the Straits Settlements, China and Japan, viz. :—The Meiji Fire and Tokio Marine.
The Company owns a fleet of seven efficient steamers, all 100 A 1, of gross tonnage aggregating over 20,000 tons. They are almost exclusively engaged for the transportation of the Company's own merchandise to and from Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the Straits Settlements, Rangoon, Java, China, and other eastern ports.
Branches And Representat1ves.—In Japan: Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Maizuru, Kure, Moji, Nagasaki, Miike, Kuchinotsu, Karatsu, Sasebo, Wakamatsu, Kishima, Hakodate, Sapporo, Taipei, Tainan. Abroad: London, New York, Hamburg, San Francisco, Sydney, Manila, Bombay, Amoy, Hong Kong, Canton, Sourabaya, Shanghai, Hankow, Chefoo, Tientsin, Port Arthur, Chemulpo, Seoul, Newchang, Dalny.


Source: Seaports of the Far East, Historical and Descriptive, Commercial and Industrial Facts, Figures,& Resources - A.Macmillan - 1907

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Mitsui Bussan Kaisha - Tientsin - 1888

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Mitsui Bussan Kaisha - Tientsin - 1888

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The Shanghai premises of Mitsui Bussan Kaisha. Image taken in 1908.

Mitsui Bussan Kaisha were a general Japanese trading company (総合商社 sōgō shōsha) founded in 1876.

They are still in business today, now styled Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

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