Phonographs, Gramophones and Record Companies in Hong Kong
HF: Can anyone provide further information about these aspects of the music industry in Hong Kong? I am especially interested in the history of record companies in Hong Kong
HF: Chunny Bhamra lived on Lamma Island, Hong Kong for many years but moved to Melbourne, Australia with his family in about 2016.
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.
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.
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. “
1. HMV 130A A rare Calcutta factory example. Similar ones were made in HK.
2. HMV 113 was exclusively made for export to the colonies. The teak case could be locked and even had a handle.
3. Gold Star Records was just one of many small companies recording, producing and distributing in Hong Kong.
4. Recorded in Hong Kong. Made in Germany and sold in Penang.
5. A Chinese Pathe record – probably the largest foreign record company in China and Hong Kong.
6. Many gramophone makers in the 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.
This article was first posted on 10th May 2015.
- 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.
- Pathé Records (Hong Kong) wikipedia
- Hong Kong Records to close shops at Pacific Place and Harbour City, marking end of era in city’s music scene SCMP 21st June 2018
I am a couple cylinder phonograph players and would like to exchange views with others. If interested, please contact me.
Please refer to my work “AN ILLUSTRATED STORY OF WYNDHAM STREET, HONG KONG, 1840s – 1960s” (圖說雲咸街滄桑), published by Chung Hwa Book Co. (H.K.) Ltd., 2008. and 《孙中山及辛亥革命音频文献》( The Gramophone Records Regarding Sun Yat-sen and the Revolution of 1911), published by Winxin Book house, 2017.
I have an HMV small box wind up gramophone.
It was working perfectly until recently. Does anyone have info on a master who can repair them in Hong Kong?
Hi John, I’m a collector of HMV gramophones mostly the Picnic 101 & 102 types as well as a table top 130.
-I’ve serviced them all plus one or two others that have come my way. Usual problem is the grease hardens in the spring case and cogs or a needle has dropped into the mechanism. Maybe get in touch I might be able to diagnose & get you moving again. I’m on Lantau, my number is 63001980.