Kwong Yee Company, Porcelain Decoration, Peng Chau, founded c1952

HF: “This industry [porcelain decoration] is quite important in Ping Chau, and there are five such factories there. The porcelain comes from Japan, and occasionally from Kiangsi. When the goods arrive, there are no designs on them, and the pieces are unpacked so that designs are painted on them by hand and later taken to the clints to seal them on. After this has been done, the decorated porcelain is ready to be taken out to the enamelware companies in Hong Kong where it is exported to different countries such as Europe, Brazil, Italy and South America.

The biggest factory — the Kwong Yee Company has been set up in Ping Chau for only seven years [ie about 1952] chiefly because rent is low compared to that of Hong Kong and the surrounding is good here, and easy to rent the clints. The workers come from Canton and Hong Kong, and not the local inhabitants of Ping Chau. Technique in drawing designs is not taught to others, for those who want to learn can do so from the unions. There are approximately 120 workers in the island and they get an average of $7.00 to $8.00 per day, the wage varying from $16.00 to $5.00 depending on the skill in painting and the size of the vessel painted upon.

Because of the great skill that is required from the workers, the greatest problem to its development is the availability of skilled labour since technique is not passed on to others.” (1)

Since adding enameled decoration on white porcelain is a small scale business that could be set up anywhere with very little capital, porcelain decorators probably moved from Canton to Hong Kong to set up shop there immediately by the time of its founding in the 19th century.The Hong Kong porcelain trade hit its peak in the 1960s, with just over a hundred workshops in the Territory only. At this time the demand for Hong Kong decorated porcelain forced the workshops to also import white porcelain from Japan to be decorated in Hong Kong. Some trading agents specifically ordered plain porcelain from Japan. The quality and price appears to have been the same as the Chinese.The porcelain trade thrived until the 1970s when trade, stocks and shares and the whole city began to take off in mid 80s, gradually making the HK properties the most expensive in the world. At this time porcelain trading, who requires large shop areas, was gradually pushed out of the game. (2)

The image on the Home Page is of a blank vase imported from Japan with its enamels added in Hong Kong. c. 1960-70. Courtesy: http://gotheborg.com/marks/20thcenturychina.shtml

There is, or was, a Hong Kong Porcelain Merchants Association Ltd though I can find little about it.

Sources:

(1) Ping Chau [an alternative name for Peng Chau] essay, Wei Kit Ling, Minnie, 1959, deposited at HKU Main Library. Not downloadable, not photocopiable. Essay presented to the Dept of Geography and Geology, HKU. Accession number MSS 915.125 W41. Thanks to CM Fung for providing this source.

(2) http://gotheborg.com/marks/20thcenturychina.shtml

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Peng Chau Industry 

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