All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

A Beautiful Purse from Helen Burton’s The Camel’s Bell, Peking

Posted: February 7th, 2023 | No Comments »

Sadly Helen Burton and her great store The Camel’s Bell (which once stood in the lobby and third floor of the Peking Hotel (now the Nuo Hotel) is largely forgotten now. She is important though – an American woman entrepreneur in inter-war China, a very famous store at the time, she also ran trunk sales of her Chinese stuff (purses, furs, dresses, various jewellery and objet etc) across America. I think she was from Bismark, Nebraska. She was briefly interned by the Japanese in WW2 in China but swapped for Japanese citizens in America and returned home. She never married but adopted about half a dozen young Chinese girl orphans. She should be much better known. Her parties at her hutong home and an old temple she rented in the hills outside Peking were legendary!

Many thanks to a ChinaRhyming reader for sharing this beautiful purse – if you’re interested by the way, it may be up for sale, so let me know and I’ll connect etc….

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