04. June 2023
This ca. 1925 passbook for the provision store Dombey & Son from our collection, is the equivalent to the “order history” tab of modern ecommerce or grocery delivery apps. A unique glimpse at how advanced retail was in Shanghai already back then. Dombey & Son was a high-class grocery store established in 1899 and the location on 143 Bubbling Well Rd (today’s Nanjing West Rd) existed since at least 1909. As Shanghai grew into an international metropolis the address was renumbered...
29. May 2023
Thrills Galore!! This beautifully illustrated 1930s advertising hand fan for the Shanghai Auditorium, reminds us of world’s fastest sport, Hai-Alai, which once was China’s hottest new game, but nowadays is entirely forgotten in the country. Here’s what it was all about:
22. May 2023
This German-language advertisement booklet from our collection is by itself a bit of a conundrum, but also reminds us of a puzzling episode that happened at the hotel during the Battle of Shanghai in 1937.
17. May 2023
A Westerner with Swastika armband stands in front of a building with Nazi flags & is surrounded by Asian soldiers. What is going on here!? Sit back & enjoy an unbelievable story that has it all: The Shanghai underworld, Japanese, Jews, double agents & false advertising.
08. May 2023
Omega watches have a close to 130-year long history in China and since the Roaring Twenties have relied heavily on Chinese celebrity endorsements. For this week’s post about an artifact from our collection we are asking you for help identifying all the glamorous icons featured in this all-star ad. But first a quick background on the famous luxury watch brand. In 1848 a young watchmaker named Luis Brandt opened a workshop called “La Generale Watch Co” in the small Swiss village of La...
04. May 2023
Advertising is known to use subliminal messaging, but this cloth banner advertisement from our collection, tells the incredible story of a brand that not only shaped fashion trends but allegedly paved the way for Japan’s invasion of China in 1937 with a secret code.
24. April 2023
This stunningly illustrated 1933 advertisement for Federal cigarettes from our collection tells the history of the British company Major Drapkin, which was one of the last foreign companies to ever advertise in Republican China. Major Drapkin & Co was a tobacco manufacturer founded in England in 1898. Its best-selling brand was The Grey’s, named after the Royal Scots Greys cavalry regiment of the British Army. The company eventually became part of the United Kingdom Tobacco Co which got...
17. April 2023
These artefacts from our collection tell the history of an infant formula brand, that by itself would not be particularly noteworthy in China. A 1936 law suit in Shanghai involving Cow & Gate, however reveals the impressive stunts and dirty tricks its ad agency and distributors pulled off…
10. April 2023
This exceptionally rare 1917 calendar poster for State Express 555 cigarettes from our collection, tells the unlikely story of a Western brand that, with one simple trick, became a top-seller in China and was even endorsed by the country’s most notorious “influencer” … State Express were luxury cigarettes manufactured in the United Kingdom by the Ardath Tobacco Company. The brand was founded in London in 1896 by tobacco merchant Sir Albert Levy (1864–1937).
03. April 2023
This historic postcard from our collection of a Japanese barricade beneath a Coca-Cola billboard, undoubtedly portrays one of the most surreal moments in Shanghai’s history. A closer investigation of the multiple depictions of this scene however leads to a surprising realization. Firstly, the location is given as near the Isis Theatre. This establishment was just outside of the International Settlement boundaries in Hongkew district on the corner of North Szechuen Rd & Jukong Rd (todays...