This is an informational website about cymbals imported from China for American drum sets in the early part of the Twentieth Century. I am researching their history, for I don’t find them well described in the English literature. My friend and colleague Carol Huang has provided all of the translations below:
Suzhou Cymbals – early 1900s (?)
The following is from a 14″ cymbal reportedly dating to the early 1900s. Unknown.
記瑞 Rui Ji – 1914-1930s
The top of the cymbal says 瑞記 (it is read right to left). This is the name of the store that produced the cymbal, roughly Ruì Jì.
“Chinese Cymbal” from page 32 of the Ludwig Drum Catalog of the year 1914. Available in 13″ 15″ and 18″ – click on the image of the cymbal for an image of the entire page of the catalog.
|View of the underside of the cymbal.|
記瑞 Rui Ji (Van Jau & Co.) – later 1910s/20s?
The underside from this era contains a stamp that romanized Wan Ju as “Van Jau & Co.” Whereas the earlier stamps were only Chinese, these cymbals use Chinese and English too.
|Top view of the cymbal. This is a 14″ cymbal with 8 rivets installed.|
|Bottom view of the cymbal.|
|*Here is another example with a clearer shot of the word “Generual” (?)|
記瑞 Rui Ji (Made in China) – 1920s/30s?
The underside of the cymbal lacks the earlier stamp, so now it just says “Made in China” or simply “China”.
The diameter of the cymbals are marked with something similar to Chinese numbers. The Chinese for eleven is 十一, twelve 十二, thirteen 十三, fourteen 十四, fifteen 十五…?
Pacific commerce was greatly interrupted during World War II. In 1937, China went to war with Japan, and during 1938 much of China was occupied by Japan. It would be useful to find a Ludwig catalog from the 1930s to see if Chinese cymbals from China are offered. After World War II, China-type cymbals were manufactured by Zildjian and Paiste, American and European companies that replaced the Chinese import market until the introduction of Wuhan cymbals in the 1960s.
Old Wuhan Cymbals – 1960s-1970s
Wuhan cymbals were sold in small numbers in the 1960s and 1970s. The following article states that the factory in Wuhan produced cymbals for thousands of years and, until the 1960s, was known as “the Gaohongtai factory” (p. 30). It also refers to “problems of restricted availability” of the cymbals in 1982 (p. 31).
Howard, Bruce. 1982. Wuhan gongs and cymbals: Maintaining an ancient tradition. Modern Drummer 6(2): 30-31, 92.
|Old Wuhan cymbals have a rectangular ink stamp as in this blurred photo. No references to Gaohongtai. No Comic Bubble font reading “WUHAN”.
|The 16″ diameter cymbal with the above stamp.|
Wuhan/Gaohongtai Cymbals – 1980s
Gaohongtai was the traditional name of the factory, but it was re-named Wuhan (after the province where it’s located) during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. In the 1980s, the “Gaohongtai” stamp returned in addition to “Wuhan” stamps. Source: Howard, Bruce. 1982. Wuhan gongs and cymbals: Maintaining an ancient tradition. Modern Drummer 6(2): 30-31, 92.
|Wuhan cymbals from the 1980s had two ink stamps. The “first stamp” to the left is merely a circular version of the more square shaped one from the 1970s.
|This “second stamp” appeared with the above “first stamp” on a cymbal purchased in 1985. It includes the name Gaohongtai.|
|Another variation of the “second stamp” from the 1980s. This one from a large 22″ cymbal.|
Next the comic bubble font logo appeared…………..
|This “third stamp” also appeared Wuhan Lion cymbals along with the above stamps in various combinations. Later, it appeared alone, as in this 1980s era Wuhan advertisement.|
|I don’t know anything about this stamp. I’ve only seen one that looks like this.|