Important Silversmiths – Cum Wo

Cum Wo is one of the first Chinese Export silversmiths known active in Hong Kong since 1860. He had a shop in Queen’s Road, where many silversmiths were based, but the superb quality of his works and the attention to details made him stand out among the others.

As many silversmiths of the time, he didn’t deal just in silver, but also in ceramic, gold and ivory.

Cum Wo was one of the first to decorate high Victorian shapes with traditional Chinese motifs such as dragons and bamboo leaves creating dramatic and unusual effects.

In the early 20th Century he was a pioneer in producing cocktail shakers decorated with Chinese motifs, particularly prunus blossoms. He managed to keep up with the changing fashion and as scholar Adrien Von Ferscht highlighted, he ‘was one of the few silversmiths who knew when enough decoration was enough’ (see A. Von Ferscht, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940, 4th edition 2015). In fact, especially in the early 20th Century Cum Wo mostly adopted plain and polished shapes finely decorated with Chinese motifs.

The firm also created miniature tea sets and doll’s house furniture, which were very much in demand among the wealthy English families.