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

J.L. George – Chinese Furniture in Old Shanghai

Posted: August 6th, 2016 | 11 Comments »

The J.L. George Chinese furniture shop does indeed sound worth a visit. George’s (the apostrophe slipped on the ad below) was up on Avenue Road, now Beijing West Road, that ran parallel to the Bubbling Well Road right to the western edge of the Settlement. Like many retailers of the 1930s looking to dodge sudden rent rises (nothing new there then) George appears to have moved around – at 1475-1477 in 1930 but also listed at No.805 at times. Their telephone number was 34732, by the way.

J.L. George appeared to be obviously foreign-owned though using Chinese craftsman – mostly originating from Dongyang in Zhejiang. In fact the company was owned by Shuang Hong Tai. We could speculate why Shuang used a western name of course – issues of trust and reliability were similar then as often today. Whatever the reason, Shanghailanders made the store popular.

Shuang hired low cost rural carpenters and craftsmen and brought them to Shanghai. This was a tradition begun in the early 1900s in Hangzhou before the furniture “factories” realised the potential size of the coastal Shanghai market and the spending power of Shanghailanders. Each one of their objects was stamped “Made in China” (which had a rather better reputation then than now!). The company moved to Hong Kong in 1949 to escape the communists and remained in business for some time after that as J.L. Georges. Interestingly, looking at various adverts from the 1930s – the company switched between J.L. George and J.L. Georges quite often. Items of furniture made by J.L. George come up for auction quite often, but due to the not completely great quality, the abundance of items they produced and their relative newness they don’t attract much money. However, they are of interest as being a staple brand found in Shanghailander homes.

 

 

JL Georges - Avenue Rd - 1930

Occasionally items do come up for auction with a J.L. George provenance, such as the carved wooden chest below (which sold for US$375 at auction in 2010!)….and below those a collection of three J.L. George tables that went for US$234.

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And some other J.L. George items….

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11 Comments on “J.L. George – Chinese Furniture in Old Shanghai”

  1. 1 Jay Osmundsen said at 5:22 am on August 11th, 2017:

    I have a beautiful old I believe it is called a tea table with curved legs just like the one you have pictured. I wish to sell but have no idea of the worth, just ballpark. Could you help me?

  2. 2 paul French said at 3:20 pm on August 11th, 2017:

    if it’s a JL George then several hundred dollars; if it’s a later reproduction then less. But if it’s an older Chinese made table then more depending on age, provenance.

  3. 3 Lorena said at 3:24 am on November 12th, 2017:

    I have one of his craving chest. If I was to sale it . Where would I go?

  4. 4 Lorena said at 3:26 am on November 12th, 2017:

    Oops type O carving I meant to say

  5. 5 Paul French said at 7:29 pm on November 16th, 2017:

    depends where you are? In America maybe a few hundred dollars at auction; a bit more in the UK perhaps via a dealer – if you’re in Europe I can send you some dealer details; if in the US I don’t know anyone there I’m afraid. Paul

  6. 6 Matt said at 3:52 am on May 3rd, 2018:

    Hi, I’ve been trying to find out about this furniture, as we recently inherited some which we don’t really have the space for and we are unsure what to do with it. We’re based in the UK. If you have any dealer details I’d really appreciate it.

  7. 7 Paul FRENCH said at 4:36 am on May 3rd, 2018:

    Perhaps – do u have any photos of the pieces you wish to part with? Paul@chinarhyming.com

  8. 8 DeanHarden said at 4:04 am on June 25th, 2018:

    Are you still trying to sell your furniture?
    JL George was one of a few Shanghai craftsman who then moved n to Hong Kong after the 1949 change in government.
    Best wishes
    Dean Harden
    hardendl@mac.com

  9. 9 Chris said at 8:09 am on October 2nd, 2018:

    I have a beautiful heavy J.L George queen headboard. I am curious about what it’s worth, for insurance purposes. The piece was made in Hong Kong. Also if you know of any auctioneers or dealers who maybe interested in the piece.

  10. 10 Paul French said at 4:00 pm on October 2nd, 2018:

    sorry – to my knowledge JL George made in HK attracts no significant interest or price – a little interest and better prices for earlier Shanghai-made pieces. I think only very general auctioneers would be interested.

  11. 11 Theresa R Winebarger said at 6:09 am on December 31st, 2018:

    I inherited a JL George hand carved Chest. It is quite ornate. Live in US. Interested in value.


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