Royal Selangor is a Malaysian brand icon which all Malaysians feel extremely proud of. But do you know that there’s actually three Royal Selangor Visitor Centres located at Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore respectively? We were at the KL Visitor Centre on a Saturday morning to experience the jelly making workshop, to take a tour around the Visitor Centre and to craft our own pewter accessory through the different processes of pewter-making at The Foundry.
Royal Selangor is founded in 1885 by Yong Koon. His little shop is called Ngeok Foh (Jade Peace), selling handcrafted pewter objects mainly for ceremonial use – such as joss sticks holders, incense burners and candle holders for altars of Chinese homes and temples. The pewter objects sold by Yong Koon were polished with “stone leaf” (tetracera scandens), a wild tropical leaf of a fine, abrasive nature. With the arrival of British colonials, the offering expanded to include tankards,ashtrays and tea services. The brand was then known as Selangor Pewter.
In the 1970s, the company started exporting, first to Singapore and Hong Kong and then to Australia. Towards the 1980s, the market expanded into Europe and later into Japan.
In 1992, the company changed its name to Royal Selangor to reflect its royal endorsement from His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor that time, Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, and to reflect its diverse product range, which has extended beyond pewter.
Yong Kon used to brand his pieces with this touchmark which consists of 4 Chinese character – Yu He Zu Xi (Jade, Peace, Pure, Tin).
We were astounded by this huge hanging plastic container that holds 1,578kg of pewter pewter swarf. The pewter swarf is saved and recycled. Nothing is wasted.
There’s also a huge weighing scale made of pewter. It’s a great photo opportunity as we looked mini once as we stood next to it.
The melon pot is my favourite piece of art work, as it tells a meaningful and significant story:
The melon pot is made using 12 sheets of pewter, hammer them into perfect oblong shapes and solder them together, by hand.
During the Second World War, in Kajang, there were many hungry villagers. One of them, Ah Ham, went into one of the warehouses to gather bags of grain. He spied this teapot on the ground and bent to pick it up. At that moment, a bomb fell on the warehouse and if he was standing up, shrapnel would have surely pierced his head. He decided that the pot had saved his life and it was his lucky pot. He took it home with him. For years after, Ah Ham used the pot to serve tea to his guests.
Datin Chen’s husband was one of his guests. When Datin Chen’s husbandtold Ah Kam that he works in a pewter factory, Ah Kam asked him to take the pot back and have it polished. At the factory, they immediately recognised it as a pot made during their grandfather’s time. So, Datin Chen’s husband begged him to sell the pot to them. Ah Ham would not part with it because he said that the pot brought him luck. Finally, he decided to give it to Royal Selangor because the pot would be going to the right home.”
It is time to indulge in some retail theraphy as there are thousands of pewter gifts and table ware available in the Royal Selangor store!
Do you know that these hand prints belong to Royal Selangor employees who have been in service for more than 5 years?
We also drank some icy cold 100 Plus out of these tankards. The tankard is suppose to keep the drinks cold and chilly.
There are 250 skilled craftspeople and a 40-strong in-house design team in Royal Selangor. It was a Saturday but some of the craftspeople were there to rush off orders.
The Cafe is a surprising find at the Royal Selangor Visitor’s Centre. It is a nice, quaint cafe to chill on a weekend afternoon. After the tour, we rested in the cafe while enjoying delicious lunches and cake.
At the Foundry, we took the opportunity to make a pewter accessory from scratch with methods used in the Royal Selangor factory today.
We were guided through the processes of casting, polishing and decorating by an experienced instructor. For the adventurous, you can also create your own freehand design without using a mould.
the finished product
KampungBoy’s new necklace
For only RM 150, the 60-minute workshop is a great way to get well acquainted with pewter while having fun! There’s also the School of Hard Knocks where participants get to create their very own pewter dish using traditional tools (hammer, mallet and wooden mould) just as it was done by pewtersmiths more than a hundred years ago!
The original Visitor Centre was opened in Kuala Lumpur in 2004. Located in its factory premises and only a 20-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur city centre, the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre is a must-see for locals and internationals alike.