Phonographs, Gramophones and Record Companies in Hong Kong

Can anyone provide further information about these aspects of the music industry in Hong Kong?

Moutrie, S & Co Advert HK China MaIL 14.4.1908

China Mail 14th April 1908

Chunny Bhamra: Gramophones and Phonographs were never really made in HK but were assembled here with metal parts being imported from Europe and wooden cabinets usually made in India and Malaysia.

brunswick-studios-phonographs-advert-hk-telegraph-17-8-1923

HK Telegraph 17th August 1923 HF

Cabinets were made especially for the “Tropical” countries using Teak as it was the one wood that suited the climate- hot and humid; it also was less prone to pests. These gramophones are referred to as the “Colonial” models and are very rare. They are hardly ever found in Asia. Most surviving examples were usually taken back to England by civil servants and military personnel.

In Europe most cabinets were made from Oak-£14, Mahogany-£16, Walnut-£17 or Teak-£18. (Reference prices for 1926)

These machines were made by HMV, Columbia, Pathe and  German Odeon.  Bitter rivals in the West but in Hong Kong these companies changed hands and amalgamated regularly just to survive.

The main revenue of these companies came from record sales. The record masters were shipped around the world and pressed locally on shellac.

Chunny 6 HK Flower Market - The New Nohorn Machines

Hong Kong Flower Market (Aberdeen Street?) 1910

andersons-english-columbia-records-advert-hk-daily-press-17-8-1923

HK Daily Press 17th August 1923

moutrie-s-co-the-new-victrola-hk-china-mail-17-8-1923

HK China Mail 17th August 1923

Anderson Music Company Advert HK Daily Press 12.12.1930

HK Daily Press 12.12.1930

From the net:

“Pathé Records (Chinese: 百代唱片; pinyin: Bǎidài Chàngpiān; Cantonese Yale: Baakdoih Cheungpín) is the first major record company in Shanghai, China and later Hong Kong. The company was a subsidiary of the Pathé Records conglomerate.

In 1952 the Pathé office in Hong Kong started to cut records, thus returning the glory of Shanghainese pop music in the British colony. Pathé Hong Kong faced fierce competition in the 1960s with the rise of Diamond Records and eventually ceased Shanghainese pop production and cut Cantopop instead, which gained popularity in the early 1970s. Pathé Hong Kong has since changed its English name to EMI Hong Kong but has retained its original Chinese name to this day. “

Examples:

1. HMV 130A A rare Calcutta factory example. Similar ones were made in HK.

Chunny 1

2. HMV 113  was exclusively made for export to the colonies. The teak case could be locked and even had a handle.

Chunny 2 HMV 113

3. Gold Star Records was just one of many small companies recording, producing and distributing in Hong Kong.

Chunny 3 No comment - one record

4. Recorded in Hong Kong. Made in Germany and sold in Penang.

Chunny 5 Recorded in HK, Made in Germany...

5. A Chinese Pathe record – probably the largest foreign record company in China and Hong Kong.

Chunny 7 Chinese Pathe record

6. Many gramophone makers in th 1930s also made Chinoiserie style cabinets for their gramophones. These were popular with expats and rich Chinese. They were usually hand painted on plaster reliefs. This one is an Algraphone from the 1920s.

Chunny 8 Chinoiserie style gramophone cabinet

This article was first posted on 10th May 2015.

See: http://gramophone.hk/ Chunny Bhamra is a long time resident of Hong Kong.  He has been collecting antique gramophones, 78 recordings and cylinder phonograph players for the last 30 years. His record collection alone stands at a staggering 30,000 recordings. His private museum holds the largest collection in the world of the best and largest acoustic gramophones ever made.

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