Shewan, Tomes & Co.

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St. George Building, head office of the Shewan, Tomes & Co. with the flag of the firm hoisted around 1908.

Shewan, Tomes & Co. was one of the leading trading companies in Hong Kong and China during the late 19th and early 20th century.

When Russell & Co., then one of the largest mercantile firms in the Far East, went out of business in 1891, former employees Scotsman Robert Shewan and Englishman Charles Alexander Tomes took over the remains of the operation and changed its name to Shewan, Tomes & Co. in 1895. The firm eventually had offices in Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, Tientsin, Kobe, London, and New York with agencies in Amoy, Foochow, Formosa, Hankow, Manila, and the Straits Settlements Shewan, Tomes & Co.'s head office was at the St. George's Building in Central, Hong Kong.[1]

Through its operation in Canton, the firm initially dealt with exports of raw silk, tea, matting, fire-crackers, cassia, rhubarb, aniseed, ginseng, and rattan alongside imports of cottons, woolens, glass, iron, steel, coal, and many other basic commodities.[1] The firm expanded to become the general manager of many leading firms in China, including the China and Manila Steamship Company, American Asiatic Steamship Company, the Green Island Cement Company, the Hong Kong Rope Manufacturing Company, the China Provident Loan and Mortgage Company, the Equitable Life Assurance Society, the Canton Land Company, as well as agents for steamers of the Shire Line, the Yangtsze Insurance Association, the Insurance Company of North America, the Batavia Sea and Fire Insurance Company, North British and Mercantile Insurance, Reliance Marine Insurance, Union Marine Insurance, World Marine Insurance, Law Union and Crown Insurance, Yorkshire Fire and Life Insurance, Fireman's Fund Insurance, and Federal Insurance Companies, the Electric Traction Company of Hong Kong, the Chinese Engineering and Mining Company, the Shanghai Pulp and Paper Company, and the Tacoma Grain Company.[1]

In 1901, Shewan, Tomes & Co. provided the capital for the incorporation of the China Light and Power Company[citation needed], which remains one of the two electricity suppliers in Hong Kong today.

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  1. ^ a b c Wright, Arnold, ed. (1908). Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other Treaty Ports of China. London: Lloyd's Greater Britain Pub. Co. p. 213.