Singapore or Shanghai?

Three spoons from the old Shanghai Rowing Club.

29 August 2017

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

On Friday, I wrote about a spoon I had added to my modest rowing memorabilia collection. I mentioned that the spoon, which has the initials ‘S.R.C.’, probably came from the old Singapore Rowing Club, which existed between 1879 and into the early 20th century.

The fellow I bought the spoon from out in California had mentioned that it was made by Tuck Chang & Co, a firm that operated in Shanghai from the late 19th century thru the early 20th century.

Nonetheless, on Saturday, fellow HTBS contributor William O’Chee from Brisbane contacted me with another idea about what S.R.C. could stand for: Shanghai Rowing Club!

Looking closer at William’s suggestion, the boating club in Shanghai was one of the first rowing clubs in Asia, founded in May 1863. The members rowed out from Suzhou Creek. It is a little uncertain when the club’s activities died out, but in 2011 a few expats in Shanghai began to row and the Shanghai RC was born again, now rowing on Dianpu River, in Qingpu.

William knows Shanghai well. He writes: ‘Before the Communist Revolution, my grandfather owned a banana plantation in what is now downtown Shanghai.’ About the spoon, William remarks, ‘I think it relates to the Shanghai Rowing Club. It would make no sense to commission something from a silversmith in Shanghai for a rowing club in Singapore, when the colony had no end of silversmiths of its own.’ He continues: ‘If it is from Shanghai, it may well be the last relic of the old club. Everything would have been lost in the Japanese occupation and subsequent revolution.’

However, William also sent me a link from a few years ago where three Shanghai Rowing Club’s spoons were up for auction. They look different from the one I acquired although they have ‘S.R.C.’ on the oar blades. Take a look here.

Shanghai or Singapore? Of course, either city sounds thrilling and very exotic to me. I will continue doing research on the spoon in my collection and about the rowing clubs in Singapore and Shanghai.

And no, the spoon is still not for sale.


  1. Even more bizarre – they referred to the area which they rowed from as Hen Li. If memory serves the old Shanghai Fours trophy is on display at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (which despite its name is HK’s largest rowing club and perhaps the largest rowing club in Asia). I think it dates from the 1860s making it the oldest extent rowing trophy in Asia as well. A story I was told, when as a family we started rowing in HK back in 1975, was the last boats and trophies out of the Shanghai Rowing Club were brought down to Hong Kong in 1948. A tradition, which I do not know if it was true or not, was that the old clinker fours I started rowing in in Hong Kong were in fact the old boats out of Shanghai. I will try and take a photo of the old trophy tomorrow and send it to you to see if the font used ties up with your spoon 😉

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