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

Burr Photo Studios of Old Shanghai

Posted: February 17th, 2017 | No Comments »

A little post on the Burr Photo Studios of Shanghai. The company started early in the twentieth century at No.2 Broadway (Daming Lu) and moved, later, after World War 1, to No.9 Broadway (as the advert says, opposite the Astor Hotel, now the Pujiang). The studio was run by a Mr J.D. Sullivan with a Mr Menju as the chief photographer, a Miss Canoey and a Miss Dismeyer as the typists (the latter replaced the former at some point in the 1920s) and S.Y. Chu as the company accountant. I believe the ultimate proprietor Mr Menju. Burr’s Chinese hong name was me-lee-fung (美利丰洋行). They did studio portraits and made good money wandering down to the moored up ships nearby and doing crew shots. They also made albums and postcards as well as cartes de visiteof  ‘Shanghai, Soo-chow, Hang- chow, etc.’ A postcard produced by Burr of the Bund some time between 1926-1928 (as you can see the construction frame for the Cathay Hotel, started in 1926, completed in 1929) is below with the trademark studio signature in the bottom right corner…

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Cathay, by Ezra Pound, as an e-book

Posted: February 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

The team at Camphor Press in Taiwan have issued several great reprints as e-books (if that makes sense?) – I’ll blog them all eventually, but let’s start with Ezra Pound’s Cathay…which should need no introduction to China Rhymers and all will have a copy on their shelves, but having a copy handily on your mobile device is always nice too….available direct from Camphor here or the ubiquitous rainforest seller here.

Cathay is a collection of classical Chinese poems by Li Bai, interpreted by the American poet Ezra Pound. Though Pound didn’t speak Chinese, he based his translations on notes by Ernest Fenollosa, in the process setting a benchmark for modernist translations. The interpretative nature of Pound’s work broke new ground in the treatment of poetry, and his status as an outsider allowed him a creative space not available to more literal translators. Cathay stands today as a seminal work strongly influential both on the poetry of his day and the succeeding generation.

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They Don’t Make Beijing Shop Signs Like They Used to

Posted: February 15th, 2017 | No Comments »

A marvellous old Peking street sign on Ta Tou Fu Hsiang (Ta meaning the big end of the street) for a slaughterhouse – the sign is a couple of dozen inflated pig bladders. One can only imagine the stench but looks interesting….

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Hardy Jowett – A Little footnote – Home to Peking from School via a Soviet Gaol

Posted: February 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

Yesterday I blogged about an old Pekinger Hardy Jowett who went from missionary in the 1890s to an officer with the Chinese Labour Corps in WW1 to a British official in Weihaiwei to an oil executive in Peking….and there was a little story I cam across that was interesting too…from 1930…

The London Guardian reports that Hardy’s son, Christopher, had a bit of an ordeal at the Sino-Soviet border, at Chita, when he was just 18. Here he was, returning from school on England, in October 1930, to Peking. But it seems he lost his passport and, rather unfortunately and no doubt alarmingly for his parents, ended up in a Russian Commie jail without warm clothing or food. It seems he did get moved to a hotel and the whole snafu eventually worked out but among the long list of ‘a funny thing happened to me on the way from school’ stories this must rank pretty nightly….

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CLC Centenary – Hardy Jowett and the Crossing

Posted: February 13th, 2017 | No Comments »

As it is the centenary of the formation, recruitment and deployment of the Chinese Labour Corps in WW1 I’ve been putting up the odd post as we move through the year noting highlights of events. If you’re interested just put ‘CLC centenary’ in the search box on this blog and they’ll all come up.

I want to give a quick mention to Hardy Jowett, an old time and long time Pekinger. Hardy Jowett is one of those people who pops up all over the place in China, especially Peking, in the first half of the twentieth century. I have long known him as the man who wrote the introduction to the excellent 1927 guide travel guide Sidelights on Peking Life by Robert W. Swallow. In that introduction Jowett describes himself as an old resident of Peking.

Jowett, from Bradford in Yorkshire, had originally gone to China in 1896 working for S. R. Myers and Co. Ltd., of Colliergate, Bradford. He began mission work in Hankow as a lay worker with the Wesleyan Methodist Society, was ordained and became a missionary.

He sailed with a detachment of the CLC recruits across the Pacific to Canada – when he was nearly 40 (so too old for active service). This means it must have been some time after the dreadful sinking of the Athos (post to come on that) by German submarines – many Chinese drowned in that disaster. The British then stopped using either the Cape of Good Hope or via Suez routes to Europe and opted for the Pacific to Vancouver, train across Canada to Halifax and then a second ship to Europe. This is the route Jowett took. In France he was initially given the rank of Technical Officer and then Second Lieutenant. at the end of the war he transferred to G.H.Q. as a Staff Captain in 1920.

Anyway, he made it through the war, became a colonial official, District Officer and Magistrate, in Weihaiwei for time and then worked for Asiatic Petroleum  as their Peking manager till 1933. Along the way he married an artist (Katherine Jowett nee Wheatley – an example of her great block prints below), couple of kids and died, in China, in 1936. His name crops up all the time in research – he was involved in so many things: Rotary Club, Toc H, the China International Famine Relief Commission, the Peiping Institute of Fine Arts, the College of Chinese Studies, the British Chamber of Commerce and the Famine Relief Commission.

Gate of the Rising Sun, Peking – Katherine Jowett

 

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Hong Kong Exhibition – Echoes of the Manila Galleon c.1584 – 1815 – from 21/2

Posted: February 12th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Echoes of the Manila Galleon c.1584 – 1815

A collection of original antique maps and prints

which ties in nicely to a new Penguin China title:

The Silver Way

China, Spanish America and the birth of globalization

1565 – 1815

by Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales

The show continues until Saturday 11th March 2017

Wattis Fine Art Gallery

2/F 20 Hollywood Road

Central, Hong Kong

Tel +852 2524 5302 E-mail info@wattis.com.hk

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25/2/17 – M on the Bund, Shanghai – The Launch of the New Edition of Norwood Allman’s Classic Shanghai Lawyer

Posted: February 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

Wonderful to see Earnshaw Books republishing this great classic of old Shanghai…

Diplomat, lawyer, judge, soldier, spy, spymaster: just a few of the positions American, Norwood Allman, held in his 30 plus years in China. Shanghai Lawyer is Allman’s first-hand account of his amazing 27 years in China from 1914 to the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in 1941.

Douglas Clark, himself a “Shanghai Lawyer”, has annotated Allman’s classic bestseller to dig up dirt, name names and tell tales. Over 200 hundred contemporaneous photos, cartoons, clippings and historical papers illustrate Allman’s story in full. Doug will take us along Allman’s extraordinary life in China as well his later life as a spymaster in the OSS and CIA.

The book has been edited and annotated by Doug Clark of Gunboat Justice fame too….

more details, booking and all that here

 

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The Intrepid Wanderwells Run into some Trouble in Mukden

Posted: February 10th, 2017 | No Comments »

In 1921, Walter Wanderwell was capturing headlines with the Million Dollar Wager, a round-the-world endurance between two teams racing Ford Model Ts to see which team could visit the most countries. He took his young bride along with him – Idris Galcia Welsh – who took the name Aloha Wanderwell. In 1924 they got to Tientsin from Singapore and pitched up in Mukden (Shenyang) where they found warlord battles were raging and they found fuel a little hard to procure. Eventually they did some though and off they went – Peking, Shanhaikwan, up to Harbin and then over the border into the USSR and on their way.

the_philadelphia_inquirer_sat__nov_8__1924_The Wanderwells in Mukden

And at the Summer Palace in Peking

Aloha Wanderwell

 

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