• Arsenius, Ambrose & Ferdinand

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  • Sternberg, M.

    c.1905 - 1925

    M. Sternberg was a wholesale and retail postcard dealer who in 1906 had a shop at  No. 34 Queen's Rd. Central and No. 20 A Queens Rd. West, Hongkong. A few years later he had a shop at No. 51 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong.


    Moritz Sternberg

    Moritz was a publisher of postcards with shops at 51 and 34 Queen’s Road Central. According to the Carl Smith archives, he was born around 1857 in Austria. He was a hotel keeper in Singapore before coming to Hong Kong. In 1894, became the proprietor of the Colonial Hotel on Jubilee Street. In 1897, the licensing board received a letter from a Wolf Friedman, who was then in San Francisco but was formerly of Hong Kong, lodging a complaint against Sternberg. [Friedman was probably Sternberg’s brother-in-law.] The police were aware that that Friedman did not have a good reputation and had been refused a tavern license for the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel (290 Queen’s Road Central) before he left for the US. [The Rose, Shamrock and Thistle had been managed by Israel Weinberg (1F5) in 1892 and 1893.] Upon investigation, it was reported that Sternberg conducted his establishment in a proper way, although his wife, mother-in-law and sister at times served behind the bar, but they never danced with the customers. The Hong Kong police sent a letter to Bengal to inquire about Sternberg’s character. The reply stated that someone answering to Sternberg’s description had been in Calcutta ten to twelve years earlier. Meanwhile, the authorities in Bombay replied that a Moritz Sternberg had been there four months previously along with his wife, a son aged seven and a daughter aged five. [The children may have been Manos and Esther but their birth years would both be off by ten years then. Given that Moritz was born in 1957 though, it’s very possible that their correct birth years would be 1891 and 1893 respectively.] The family stayed in Bombay for a month. Moritz’s intention was to open a hotel there but as the plague was present in Bombay at the time, they decided to move on. They had purchased coffee and a coffee mill, which they took with them. Perhaps because of this scrutiny, Sternberg transferred the licence to Joseph Haiem Donnenberg (4B8). In 1902, long-time HK resident Joaquim Gomes transferred the liquor license of the International Hotel (318 and 320 Queen’s Road Central) to Sternberg. Gomes had owned and managed the hotel for over 30 years. He died the following year. In 1911, Sternberg was charged with serving soldiers.

    Lizzie Sternberg (b. May 27, 1869; d. March 4, 1957, SF) is buried in the Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, CA. Her gravestone simply says “Elizabeth Sternberg, March 4, 1957, Rest in Peace.”

    Manos was an investment broker. His wife’s name was Sarah Violet (“Vi”) Judah (October 10, 1904, Shanghai; d. December 17, 1972) and they had one child, Viola Jacqueline Ruth (“Jackie”) Sternberg (b. August 30, 1926, Shanghai). At the time of his US naturalization application in 1950, Jackie was living in North Seattle, Washington.

    Great-niece L.J. O’Neale writes (December 3, 2017):

    “Manuel Sternberg (everyone called him “Mano”) was my maternal grandfather. I lived with him and my grandmother, Vi, in San Francisco when I was a child. Mano and Vi may have entered the United States at Seattle in 1950 (they had both been here many times before), but neither of them ever lived there. I suspect that this entry was a formality for the sake of becoming permanent residents of the US, as I believe they had originally come here in 1948 or 1949. They bought a house on Fulton Street in San Francisco, and then moved to a larger house on Castenada Avenue. They became US citizens in 1955 – the petition was filed in 1950, but there’s a five-year wait before it can be granted.

    “Mano also had a sister, Esther. She was married to an Englishman, Stanley “Charlie” Williams. They also lived in San Francisco after the war, where he worked as a salesman for a commercial stationers and she worked in the headquarters of the supermarket chain Safeway. They moved to Santa Barbara after they retired, and passed away there.

    “I remember hearing that Mano’s family originally came from Austria, but I have no idea how long they had been British subjects. I also had the impression that Mano had moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai as a young man, and through business acumen had worked his way up from a menial position to become owner/director of a substantial import-export firm. He was a man with a keen eye for business and for financial trends, and was quite successful as a stock-market advisor, although he could be ruthless. Vi was educated in a convent school in Shanghai, where French was the primary language. She said that there were a lot of white Russian girls there – she spoke fluent Russian. She was also an excellent classical pianist.

    “[During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai,] Mano was taken to Bridge House and “interrogated” by the Kempeitai for about six months. [This was in 1943.] He never spoke of it, and, except for one time, Vi only alluded to it to me. Apparently he was tortured, and that severely. The only time Vi ever told me about it directly she said that after six months with no idea what had happened to him, the Kempeitai commandant’s office called her and said she could come pick him up, that he was being released. When they brought him out to her, he was wearing a filthy overcoat, not his. He did not look directly at her and said nothing to her. She attributed this to fatigue and relief, until they got home. In the house, he looked at her, put his fingers to his lips in the “keep quiet” sign, reached into the coat pocket and brought out a dried-up orange peel, which he began to suck on. She then realized that he had not recognized her. (I believe she told me that after he had a seizure after seeing on television a commercial for the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, in which Sessue Hayakawa, as the Japanese camp commandant, struck Alec Guinness’ character, as the senior officer of the British prisoners, in the face with his baton. The seizure scared Vi and me beyond all belief.)

    “Mano and Vi’s daughter, who went by Jacqueline or Jackie, met my father when they were both interned in a Japanese prison camp in China. My father had been a crewman on a US troopship, the SS President Harrison, which had been captured off Shanghai by the Japanese hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The American sailors were put into Longhua. (The ship’s officers were held in a military prison. The Harrison had taken the 4th Marines out of Shanghai to Manila – most of them died in the Bataan Death March – and were headed to Chingwangtao to pick up the North China Marines, and the crated bones of Peking Man.) I believe that Esther and Charlie were also prisoners in Longhua.

    “My parents were married on September 23, 1945, in the Swiss Legation in Shanghai. After repatriation, my mother joined my father in Portland, Oregon, where I was born. Finding her circumstances not to her liking, she divorced my father and returned with baby me to her parents in Shanghai. With the impending collapse of the Nationalist government in China, my grandfather, who had lost his material goods to the Japanese and was facing the prospect of losing them again, decided to abandon the East. We arrived in the US on the Harrison’s sister ship, SS President Cleveland, in 1948.

    “Vi and Mano are both in the Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, California.”

    Jewish Historical Society of Hong Kong.

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  • Yee Wo Shing

    c.1905 - 1915

    Yee Wo Shing, was a Chinese postcard publisher who had a shop at 7 Macdonnell Road, Kowloon at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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