Charles Herbert Arnhold, Arnhold & Company Ltd
HF: Initial notes on Charles Herbert Arnhold. I have been unable to find an image of the gentleman, whose connection to Arnhold & Company Ltd, is the subject of this article, and would be grateful to any reader who can send me one.
Further up Hong Kong’s Peak, an event of vast importance for the future of the firm took place: the birth on 16 January 1879 of Harry Edward Arnhold, son of Jacob and Anna Arnhold. This young man’s British birth would be central to saving the firm from collapse in the aftermath of World War One. Two years later, in 1881, his brother, Charles Herbert Arnhold was born in London. On these two pairs of shoulders would the future of the firm rest. Their lives would be bound up with that of Shanghai – the fabled magnet to entrepreneurs and adventurers – and just as they were entering the world, Arnholds was entering Shanghai. (2)
It was about this time that Jacob Arnhold succeeded in becoming British. His residence was now 41 St John’s Wood Park, London. His referees included two silk brokers, two ship and insurance brokers and one ‘independent gentleman’ who appeared to live next door. Arnhold had ‘established a large business in this country in the China trade, and is head of the firm Arnhold, Karberg & Co, 4 East India Avenue. He intends permanently to reside in this country and to ensure for his children, the rights of English citizens.’ Supporting documents showed that Jacob Arnhold, 44 years old, was married with four children: Emily was almost seven, Olga Mary was almost five, Harry Edward was two years 10 months, and Charles Herbert just two and a half months old. Jacob had been living in St John’s Wood since May 1874. Despite trips to China and New York he was now in England for good. (2)
Both Harry and his brother Charles, after starting in the Hong Kong office, chose to live in Shanghai, thereby muddying the company’s domicile at a key time. Records clearly show the firm was born in Hong Kong, but with the residence of the senior partner in Shanghai it was Shanghai that came to be seen as the head office. This point may seem arcane but proved of vital importance as the firm battled to survive. (2)
The China Import and Export Limber Co imported timber (such as Oregon pine) from which it manufactured the planks and wooden fittings required for China’s construction industries. Lumber for railway sleepers was a large market. The firm grew tremendously and within its first eight years was regularly paying its shareholders (Harry was by far the largest, soon joined by Charles) a steady 8 per cent annual dividend. This firm opened a Hong Kong lumber yard and offices at North Point in April 1914. (2)
World War One had wrecked much [of the Chinese activity. Hong Kong did not fight and suffered no military threat. But German lives and businesses were upended. Competition with British business had long been intense; with the onset of war, that contest would be irrevocably lost by the Germans. The annual Chronicle & Directory gave the bare bones of the Arnholds story to come. When war broke out, a list of Arnholds personnel and businesses in Hong Kong alone had taken more than two full pages of the Directory. But in 1915, 1916 and 1917, the entry was simply:
ARNHOLD, KARBERG & CO Importers, Exporters, Shipping Agents, Engineers & Contractors – New Praya, P.O.Box 1;Teleph 8; Tel Ad: Karberg. Dodwell & Co., Ltd, Liquidators.
By 1918, although Arnholds was still listed as being in the hands of liquidators, a new company was also listed in Hong Kong.
ARNHOLD BROS & Co., LTD, CHINA
Import and Export Merchants
B.Monteith Webb & Co, representatives(2)
- The Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
- Arnholds China Trader, Vaudine England, Moonchild Production Co.
This article was first posted on 6th February 2024.
Related Indhhk articles:
- Captain FA Swoffer, Chief Pilot, Arnholds Aviation, China, early 1930s – Part Two
- Captain FA Swoffer, Chief Pilot, Arnholds Aviation, China, early 1930s
- Military aircraft in China 1930s – Arnhold & Company and the Blackburn Aircraft Company
- Blackburn Aircraft Limited, aka Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co., represented by Arnhold Aviation in China, early 1930s
- Arnhold Aviation Dept, subsidiary of Arnholds & Company in Shanghai , aircraft sales throughout China
- Asiatic Petroleum Company Ltd – links to Arnhold & Company
- Arnhold, Karberg & Company – founded in Hong Kong, 1866