By now it may seem apparent to the viewers of the Rickshaw Express that many of the articles presented on the Website consists of philatelic items including postcards sent to and from Shanghai.
Being a Shanghailander and an ardent philatelist, yours truly is always searching for postal memorabilia, which tells something about Shanghai, especially life during the war and pre-war era. Through the magic of the computer, and contact with several philatelists (stamp collectors), around the world, I was again fortunate in obtaining the following rare picture postcards from the bygone era, some in mint condition, and others, which went through the mail.
We start off with a postcard illustrated in figure one showing the Astor House Hotel, the way we Shanghailanders remember it. Situated in an inconspicuous corner near the famous Bund and across the former Russian Embassy, the building we saw then was completed in 1910. It was once the most renowned and luxurious foreign-owned hotel in the Far East. In 1959, the hotel name was changed to Pujiang Hotel. Missing in the foreground is the Russian Embassy; built later, shown on an old and on a recent photograph in figure two.
Also recently acquired was another set of vintage picture- postcards illustrating again the popular Bund The Hong Kong-Shanghai-Bank, with its dome-shaped roof is presented on the postcard in figure three, with the Custom House to the right, in the process of being rebuilt (circa 1925). The postcard illustrated in figure four shows the new Custom House situated along the Bund, with the city‘s most famous clock-tower. It was completed in 1927.
During its 1930‘s and 1940‘s heyday, Nanking Road housed the Shanghai‘s four main department stores -~ Wing On Co., Sun Sun Co., Sincere Co., and Da Sun Co. Across the road from the Sincere Co. was Wing On Co., shown from an aerial view on the postcard in figure five.
Established in 1918, it became the most prosperous department store in Shanghai. On a personal note; in the early 40‘s, yours truly consumed at Sincere Co. with a voracious appetite, his first hot dog better known at the time as a “Knack im Frack”.
Prior to the Japanese Proclamation of 1943 restricting Jews to a designated area, several markets located in the International Settlement were readily accessible to the newly arrived refugees of the late 30‘s. Among those was the popular Hongkew Market illustrated on the postcards in figure six and figure seven. It became well patronized by many Jewish refugees prior to the war.
A fun postcard dedicated to my father at a 1939 New Years party, shown in figure eight, tells how he enjoyed shopping for food at the Hongkew Market, referred to at the time by the Jewish refugees as “Der Japanisher Markt”.
During the time when the Proclamation was implemented, there was only one market in the designated area called Chusan Road Market available to the refugees. The market shown on a recent photograph in figure nine (courtesy: Horst Beil) was conveniently located in the heart of Hongkew on Muirhead Road Who can remember the rich aroma of the strawberries from a block away emanating from the market? It was the human fertilizer, which rendered the fruity, and very berry aroma and taste of the fruit.
With hope that by gathering and collecting anything related to Shanghai, especially photos, postcards, letters, and other documents from the 30‘s and 40‘s, we can one day tell more to our posterity about the city that saved several thousands of Jewish lives.