“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Dunlop Tyres in old Shanghai

Posted: October 16th, 2019 | No Comments »

Tyres for cars and for rickshaws – Dunlop’s on the old Avenue Edward VII (Yanan Lu)….1930s…

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A Carl Crow Billboard for Mark Woody Motors, 1931

Posted: October 14th, 2019 | No Comments »

A Carl Crow, Inc billboard advertising American motorcar dealer Mark Woody outsde The Metropole Hotel under construction, 1931…

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Opium on the French Riviera in the 1920s & 1930s…

Posted: October 12th, 2019 | No Comments »

Just read Anne de Courcy’s Chanel’s Riviera in which the English artist Sir Francis Rose comments on the opium culture of the French Riviera in the 1920s and 1930s…

Francis Cyril Rose, also Sir Francis, 4th Baronet of the Montreal Roses, was an English painter vigorously championed by Gertrude Stein who spent a lot of time on the French Riviera with his esteemed travel writing wife Dorothy Carrington. In the 1920s he referred to opium as “the gentleman’s drug”, ‘We Europeans of the 20s and 30s only smoked opium bought in sealed purple tins, which were smuggled from Indo-China where it was openly sold by the French in the same way that Benares opium was sold by the British government in all the tobacco shops in Hong Kong.’ Rose noted that if the purple tins weren’t available then the Bohemian denizens of the Riviera  had to buy raw opium which looked like a great clot of mud and involved days of cooking and filtering and a produced a smell some loved and others detested.

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Celebrate the Double Ten in 1941 with the China Weekly Review

Posted: October 10th, 2019 | No Comments »
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Royal Asiatic Society: A History of Mapping Shanghai – Ming Village to International Metropolis – 19/10/19

Posted: October 9th, 2019 | No Comments »

From a sleepy fishing village during the Ming period to a vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis, Shanghai has undergone tremendous changes that are well illustrated in the diversity of its maps through the centuries.

Vince Ungvary will discuss the history of mapping Shanghai, starting with early 1500s maps to those published just after the 1949 revolution. The huge range will include maps from the Qing dynasty, early European maps of Shanghai in 1690, maps of the International and French concessions from the 1850s to the 1920s, and Japanese war-time maps. We will also learn about Chinese maps for the purposes of political propaganda, taxation, religious, tourism, transport and real estate from these various eras. Vince will also bring some rare, original antique maps to view in person and purchase.


Vince Ungvary is an Australian professional antique map dealer specializing in antique maps of China. Vince completed a master’s degree in Asian Studies and has been an avid antique map collector for more than 20 years, providing rare maps of Asia and China to museums and private collectors around the world.

Entrance fee

Members: 60 RMB  Non-Members: 100 RMB(one drink included)
Venue – The TavernRadisson Blu Plaza Xingguo Hotel, 78 Xingguo Rd(兴国路78号1楼)

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The Metropole, Shanghai, 1930s advert…

Posted: October 8th, 2019 | No Comments »

The Metropole was built on the junctions of Honan Road (Henan Road Middle) and Foochow Road (Fuzhou Road) in 1930 with Hamilton House attached. It still looks good on the outside though the inside has been disrespected – most recently the charming American Bar ripped out to create (of all things!) a gym! So the interior is now not really anything to bother about…Here’s an ad for the hotel back in the day when you could have had a cocktail and a fascinating chat in the bar with some sojourner or Shanghailander as opposed to going to a gym and watching censored CNN or some such….and you can forget any idea of an ‘excellent Grill Room’…

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For the Glory: The Life of Eric Liddell

Posted: October 3rd, 2019 | No Comments »

A new biography of Liddell, born in China and, after his famous Olympics, a China missionary. Although Duncan Hamilton is a sports journalist, the sections on China and, later, Liddell’s final days at Weihsien Internment Camp, are informative…

Faster. Higher. Stronger. No one has embodied the ideals of the Olympic movement quite like Eric Liddell, star of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. After refusing to compete on religious principle in the event in which he was favourite, the 100 metres, at the 1924 Games in Paris, Liddell won an astonishing gold medal in the 400 metres. But instead of pursuing a path of global fame and fortune, he chose to follow his calling as a missionary in the country of his birth, China, a land which then fell under the iron grip of a brutal Japanese army.

Liddell became the inspirational leader of the work camp in which he, like many thousands, was interned, and For the Glory is the full story of his life, of his family, of his fellow prisoners and the terrible hardships and atrocities they experienced in the Far East. This is the tale of a sporting icon, a man of honour and principle who paid the ultimate sacrifice while becoming the moral centre of an otherwise unbearable world.

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The National Palace Museum, Peking, 1920s

Posted: September 30th, 2019 | No Comments »

One of the things I find myself arguing about on the internet quite regularly is the opening of the Forbidden City and the National Palace Museum to tourists. Many mainland Chinese, and a a fair few foreigners in China, often argue that the Forbidden City was opened up for people to see by the Communist Party in 1949.

Of course this isn’t true. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. And here’s an old ad for any 1920s visitors to Peking who may be interested….

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