Zeewo - Chinese Silver Marker
Chinese Export Silver Maker in Shanghai
Sweetmeat basket by Zeewo (Chinese Export Silver)
Mustard Pot by Zeewo (Chinese Export Silver)
Zee Wo is listed in early 20th century Shanghai city directories as dealers in gold and silverwares, jewelry, diamonds, jades and pearls. It is estimated that Zeewo operated from 1870 to 1930. It is also one of the more common Chinese Export Silver Marker.
Another fine example box by Zee Wo (Chinese Export Silver)
The marks on Chinese silver from this period often indicate the retail establishment, and are not hallmarks in the sense of marks authenticating origin or purity. In the nineteen teens Zee Wo was situated at 120 Honan Road (now Henan Road 河南路), a busy north/south commercial and residential street running through the center of the International Settlement. There were other gift shops and jewelers, and further up the road was the Commercial Press, opened in 1897 by a group of four young Chinese men. It was to become Shanghai’s dominant publishing house, producing both Chinese classics, translations into Chinese of western scientific texts, plus books in English. As such, it played a significant role in the transformation of Shanghai into a modern center of east-west exchange.
And this is the context for businesses like Zee Wo. Zee Wo did well enough to take out sizeable advertisements in the Shanghai city directories (hong lists under the Canton System). Their business is explained at greater length in Chinese, suggesting it was Chinese who might wish to know that in addition to rings, bracelets, watches, boxes, pearls and jade, one could also have one’s eyes tested using western methods.