China Daily article – growing trend of collecting HK industrial memorabilia

HF: The China Daily, HK Edition, of 8th September 2015 contained the second of a planned series of articles about what is seen as an “explosion of interest of material related to the city’s industrial past”.

The article by Chitralekha Basu includes…Last July, the Hong Kong Museum of History launched a campaign to collect from members of the public, “manufactured goods, product catalogues, product design drawings, sales orders, advertisements, promotional videos, tools, and photos related to items that were designed, made, or assembled in Hong Kong”.

…The Hong Kong Heritage Project recently revived a 60s-style image viewer (a manually-operated stereoscopic toy used to view magnified photographic transparencies). Presented together with images of old Hong Kong, the contraption has proved to be a hit with both people who knew the toy from their childhood, as well as those born in the digital age…

…and, the two outlets of Picture This Gallery in Central are bursting with merchandise from old Hong Kong, a substantial part of which is industry-related. Company calendars with the mandatory cheongsam-clad Chinese beauty from the 1930s — such as those advertising Camel brand paints, enamels and lacquers, which were exported all over Southeast Asia, and manufactured by The National Lacquer and Paint products Co Ltd, HK. Jacob & Company, a Dublin-based enterprise which once had a HK distributor — are stacked up alongside share certificates and vintage bonds embellished with ornamental borders….Even catalogues and house journals, like The Hong Kong Exports and Far Eastern Importer, published in 1953, seem to have market value. Potential customers are attracted by the Technicolor advertisements inside, of Amoycan Sauce or Kader Industrial Toy Manufacturer, which have retro chic written all over them.

Stephen Davies frequent contributor to this website and  former director of Hong Kong’s Maritime Museum, suggests: There is a disinclination to preserve the artifactual history of Asia…for example, if you look at Hong Kong’s maritime history, 95 percent of people involved in that business in the 1960s were illiterate sailors, who did not think objects associated with what they did for a living was worth preserving, whereas their European counterparts would hang on to logbooks, records and the stuff they built to send back to wives and girlfriends.

Stephen continues: Besides, even if they did collect stuff from their work lives, most working-class Hong Kong residents would have little space at home to keep these. When the first public housing blocks were built, the space, per person, was only about 2.5 square meters…so no wall space for pictures, posters and so forth, let alone storage space for two generations of family photographs, diaries, whatever…Most old Hong Kong industrial machinery was either sold to the Chinese mainland or turned into scrap.

China Daily Article Two snipped image

M+ Museum, West Kowloon Cultural District collected the iconic Sammy’s Kitchen neon sign among a few other items of historic interest. Image Courtesy: Roy Liu/China Daily

See: The China Daily article Old is Gold  – 8th September 2015

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. China Daily article on increased interest in HK’s Industrial Past – including praise for the Indhhk Group

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