WHEN SHOPS WERE PROPER SHOPS
This first appeared in issue #2 of 'History Notes', compiled by the late Phillip Bruce. It is reproduced here on Gwulo by kind permission of Mr Bruce's family.
Department stores in Hong Kong today are often boring wastelands of expensive clothes and designer products. They were much more useful in 1879, as can be seen from the adverts of Lane Crawford which appeared in the China Mail in January that year. On sale were:
Woolen socks, drawers and undershirts, Letts's diaries, riding whips, bridles and pony harness, rug straps, York hams, chit books, horse clippers, filters, silber lamps, French and English boots and shoes, the New Pattern Life Vests, Chubb's fireproof safes, salamanders for heating baths, Works of Reference, California apples, hair brushes, billiard cloths, copying presses, Christy's hats, scarfs, collars, kid gloves, food warmers, cigarettes, cricket bats, balls, gloves etc, Partaga's Havana cigars, bath towels, paint boxes, damask for table cloths, stationary, patent water closets, pocket books, dog collars and chains, tennis balls, children's books, valises, Ladies' and Gentleman's dressing bats, fitted, air cushions, billiard balls, short Sniders with sword bayonets, Bass's Ale, Guiness's Stout, bottled by Foster, Bass in Hhds, Saccone's sherries, plum puddings, Christmas cakes, mincemeat, Smyrna figs, Elva's plums, crystallised fruits, dragees, French and English bonbons, chocolate for dessert, assorted cosaques, telephone crackers, conference crackers, aquarium crackers, French and English toys, mechanical toys, dolls in latest Parisian Costumes, swimming dolls, dolls' portmanteaux, dancing and walking dolls, Punch and Judy show, rocking horses, musical boxes, tea and dinner sets, Noah's arks, wheelbarrows, guns and swords, spades and pails, barrel organs, French albums, Ladies' dressing cases, glove and handkerchief boxes, work baskets and boxes, Ladies' companions, photograph frames, card receivers, statuettes, Bohemian flower vases, Pharoah writing cabinets, scent cases in velvets and crystal, Russian pocket books, Morocco cigar cases, plated scissors in cases, bibles, paint boxes fitted, toilet bottles and vases, aneroids, crocodile scent cases, writing desks, Meerschaum pipes, latest design electro-plated ware, Mark Twain's scrap books, and Havana cigars.
How can the shop's owners hold their heads up today when they don't even stock Bass in hogs' heads or sword bayonets?