United States Consular Reports Hong Kong, June 1889 Part One – Manufactories

HF: I found this report while searching for information about American companies with a presence in Hong Kong in the latter part of the 19th century. My effort to provide a source for the report, shown below, leaves me somewhat mystified about where it was originally published.  Feel free to clarify me and us on this.

The Hong Kong Report is signed off by the Vice-Consul R.E.Withers on 29th June 1889, near enough 131 years ago.

How the consul defined a ‘Manufactory’ is also unclear but the list of kinds of them is extensive and will perhaps be somewhat of a surprise to those who thought manufacturing in Hong Kong only really took off post-WW2 leading up to the Made in Hong Kong period in the 1970s and 80s.

I am unfamiliar with several of the kinds of manufactories listed and would be very interested in any information which readers might be able to provide about their production in Hong Kong during this, or any other time.

Namely: artemisia-oil (see below), “furnaces”, ginger-oil, “image making”, leather boxes, paper boxes, sapan-wood ware and vermilion.

United States Consular Report June 29 1889 Manufactories

Source 1.

United States Consular Report June 29 1889 R.E.Withers Vice Consul

Artemisia Oil

Artemisia annua L., a plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, is an annual herb native to China and it grows naturally as a part of steppe vegetation in northern parts of Chatar and Suiyan province in China at 1,000–1,500 m above sea level. This plant can grow up to 2.4 m tall. The stem is cylindrical and branched. Leaves are alternate, dark green, or brownish green. Odour is characteristic and aromatic while the taste is bitter. It is characterized by large panicles of small globulous capitulums (2-3 mm diameter), with whitish involucres, and by pinnatisect leaves which disappear after the blooming period, characterised by small (1-2 mm) pale yellow flowers having a pleasant odour (Figure 1). The Chinese name of the plant is Qinghao (or Qing Hao or Ching-hao which means green herb). Other names are wormwood, Chinese wormwood, sweet wormwood, annual wormwood, annual sagewort, annual mugwort, and sweet sagewort. In the USA, it is well known as sweet Annie because after its introduction in the nineteenth century it was used as a preservative and flavouring and its aromatic wreath made a nice addition to potpourris and sachets for linens and the essential oil obtained from the flowering tops is used in the flavouring of vermouth [1]. The plant is now naturalised in many other countries such as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Romania, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia [2]. Source 2.

Now…where and why was the oil manufactured in Hong Kong in 1889?


  1. [I think] United States, Bureau of Foreign Commerce, Consulate Reports, Commerce, Manufactures Etc, Volume 30
  2. Artemisia Oil information

This article was first posted on 25th June 2020.

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