Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


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PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

Old friends

In theory I view the items for sale at a postcard fair with a cool, analytical gaze, only choosing pictures I can use in new books, prints, and talks.

In practice there are all sorts that catch my eye, and I often end up buying scenes that add more detail to an older story that I'd enjoyed. Here are a few examples, the fourth and final batch of postcards and photos I bought at the Woking fair.


Sailing junk

Photos of sailing junks are always worth a look, and I especially like photos of junks with tattered sails.

Junk with tattered sails


What a jumble of patches - I wonder if any

New on Gwulo: 2021, week 38

A look at what's new on the Gwulo website...


  • A question from David: If you're reading this as an email message, please could you reply and let me know if you can see the photos displayed below in the Photos section? When I read the last few newsletter emails on my PC it just shows blue text links to the photos not the actual photos. But when I look at the same emails on my mobile phone I can see the photos fine. I'm wondering if this is just a problem with my PC, or if it is affecting other people too.
  • A new wartime diary, The Diary of Mrs Grace Smith - the blind lady of Stanley Internment Camp has been added: Introduction, pages
  • Documents describing Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation
  • The Peninsula Hotel was still covered in wartime camouflage paint as late as 1949. When was it finally removed?
  • The house, Arrowhead, and its architect and owner, Mr Alfredo Alvares




City scenes

For the third batch, we'll look at views of the city from various angles.

1. Almost a panorama: Hong Kong from the harbour

The first postcard has an arrow showing the owner's house - but unfortunately it must have been sent with a long-lost letter, as there isn't any more information about the owner on the back of the card.

View from harbour #1


In any case I was more interested in the three little arrows, as the next card I looked at has them too.

Pictures of people

Returning to the Woking postcard fair, here are the other pictures I bought showing people around Hong Kong.

1. "Chinese barber, Hong Kong"

That's the title the seller wrote on the back, but looking at the roof on the right I think this was taken in mainland China rather than in Hong Kong. And though the standing man may be a barber, I believe the service he is providing is to clean his customer's ears, digging out ear wax, etc.

Removing ear wax


If you look at the magnifying glass below (you might want to


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