Wang Hing was almost certainly a created name – not uncommon in eastern culture – intended to encourage good luck, rather than a name of the owner of the business. The firm was established in Canton in 1854, by the wealthy Lo merchant family.
The company Wang Hing & Co.’s success as an exporter of silver was surely affected by the recent colonization of Hong Kong by the British, which had taken place 1842. Simultaneously, the Treaty of Nanking was established, which would aid China’s export trade all over the world, though being especially favourable to the British and America.
Previously, Chinese silver had been created largely in the same style as Georgian British silverware. Suddenly the abundance of export trade to the Western world mean that Chinese export silver began to feature traditional Chinese motifs, patterns and symbols. This would prove to be popular with Western retailers and consumers, as the novelty of this new style of silverware made the pieces fashionable.
Wang Hing & Co. eventually grew to be so successful that they opened a premises in Hong Kong in the early 1920s which sold silverware, jade, lacquerware as well as other luxury homewares.
Wang Hing and Co. are one of the most famous, certainly the most prolific Chinese export silver makers in the world. This reputation is largely due to the firm’s relationship with Tiffany’s – as it was a long held belief that Wang Hing and Co. directly supplied Tiffany and Co. with Chinese Export silver.
Tiffany had an affinity for Chinese patterns and style of silverware decoration, particularly in the mid twentieth century, when oriental styles had a resurgence in popularity.
The fabled relationship which Wang Hing developed with Tiffany and Co. was due to the higher quality of silverware which Wang Hing & Co. produced in comparison to other silver, however the cost of production was significantly lower than from European silver makers.
In the 1940s, the invasion of Hong Kong by the Japanese lead to civil unrest and large scale air raids and bombings, which not only saw the closure of the Wang Hing & Co. flagship shopfront, but also saw the demise of the business as a whole, as the family and goods were separated by the attack on their country.
Today, due to the company’s long history and reputation for both quality and traditional Chinese style, Wang Hing & Co. is the most sought after and collectable Chinese Export Silver maker which exists.