China’s rise is unprecedented. From no one having a fridge when China opened up in 1978 to now having the largest number of millionaires in the world.
Its tremulous history has shaped what the nouveau riche Chinese are collecting today.
- Pre 1910: All Chinese records were produced outside of China, even ones recorded in China were sent abroad for pressing and then imported again for local sales
- C.1910: French Pathé and HMV setup factories in China
- C.1920: Followed by various other companies, including Odeon, Beka and Regal
- 1920’s: The swinging 20’s arrived in Shanghai. It became the Paris of the Orient with a plethora of nightclubs, cabarets and ballrooms. Like Paris it attracted both black and white American Jazz musicians. Whitey Smith and Teddy Wetherford. In the early 30’s, Buck Clayton played in Shanghai for a number of years. Were they recorded?
- 1927: Local companies like, The Great China Record Company, New Moon and Great Wall started recording and releasing film music and Peking Opera. There was also now a demand for imported gramophones
- 1927~1949: Civil war between the Nationalists and Communists with a period of chaos when the Japanese controlled several areas of China. They were expelled in 1945. The Communists started pushing the Nationalist out too. In retreat, Chiang Kai-shek started to gather all of China’s treasures and sent it all to the coast where a huge flotilla of ships was waiting. He then took all the treasure and his men and invaded Taiwan. It all still sits in Taiwan.
- 1949: Any record companies that survived were combined to form the China Records Company. They of course produced mainly patriotic and military music
- 1966-76: The Cultural Revolution saw most, if not all of China’s past destroyed. One can see why China now claims Taiwan as part of China as all its history is there.
As for the Chinese buying up high end Hi-Fi systems etc. Well that is because they are now the new wealthy custodians of precious things. That’s a good thing in my opinion as it means these things are being preserved for future generations. Let’s just hope there isn’t another Cultural Revolution.
I remember in the 1980’s being able to buy a large stack of Chinese 78’s for next to nothing. Not anymore.
There are basically two types of Chinese 78’s. Pre 1949 and extremely rare or the Communist Party 78’s which used to be quite common but all of a sudden have disappeared. Nowadays all Chinese 78’s command huge priced but are usually unplayable due to condition and content.
Of course there are also Chinese 78’s that were produced in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. These are usually fun as they are often local pop with Western influences.
This is just my small analysis, please don’t take it seriously.