Nestled at the corner of Kuala Lumpur lies the headquarter of Royal Selangor, the world’s largest pewter maker. Royal Selangor’s origin can be traced back to 1885 when a young pewtersmith named Yong Koon sailed from the south-eastern Chinese port of Shantou in Guangdong province to join the fledging tin-mining industry in Malaya and started his humble pewter business at Cross Street, the present day Jalan Silang in Kuala Lumpur.
Today, this family-owned business has grown by leaps and bounds and has even set up an award-winning Visitor Centre for people who are keen to learn more about the origins of Royal Selangor.
1. At approximately 250° Celsius, a pot of boiling hot molten pewter was seen at the factory. It is interesting to note that pewter does not melt gradually. Instead, the pewter will not begin to liquidfy until the full piece has reached its melting point
2. Each pewter item is hand casted by pouring molten pewter into steel moulds. Here the moulds were used to form a handle for a pewter tankard.
3. In just a few seconds, the pewter will cool down resulting in a solid shape. Since the edges of the handle were unevenly shaped from the mould, the pewtersmith will dip the edges into the molten pewter again.
4. Once the pewter hardens, the mould will be opened and the pewtersmith will remove the handle using pliers.
5. At high rotational speed, a fine steel blade was used to carefully skim a thin layer of the pewter piece to reveal a glossier surface.
6. Using the shaper edge of the blade, a line was formed at the bottom of the pewter piece when it is rotated at high speed.
7. The shaved metal or otherwise known as swarf resulting from the skimming process will not be discarded. Instead it is collected daily to be remelted again.
8. Using a pair of dextrous hands and a filing tool, a ‘coin tree’ was filed to remove any rough edges.
9. A closer look at the filing process.
10. The process of knocking patterns on this pewter item takes years to master. Although it looks deceptively simple, the consistency of each knock to produce similar patterns on the pewter item is not an easy feat.
11. As a mark of true craftmanship, this lady has been working at Royal Selangor for many years, mastering the delicate art of producing fine pewters.
12. Despite modern technologies, every piece of pewter is still meticulously handmade. Seen here is the factory floor with tables lined up to produce handcrafted pewter.
13. One of the attraction at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre is the ‘School of Hard Knocks’. Participants could re-live the experience of olden-day pewtersmithing during a half hour workshop where an experience instructor will teach them how to make a pewter bowl.
14. The first step requires the participant’s name to be etched onto the pewter plate using a set of steel alphabets.
15. Each metal piece contains an alphabet which is placed onto the plate before it was etched using a hammer.
16. Using a mallet and wooden mould, participants are required to produce a pewter bowl. This simple set of tools were also used by pewtersmiths in the 19th century to produce fine pewters.
17. There were two stages involved in making the bowl. First is to form a shallow platter by knocking the sides of the pewter plate. The second part involves forming the curvature of the bowl by knocking on the center part of the plate.
18. A set of tumblers were displayed at the pewter shop just outside the factory.
19. Frodo Baggins, the lead character from the Lord of the Ring saga was crafted into a globlet with the One Ring forming its base. The One Ring is plated with 24K gold and carries the famous inscription in Elvish which reads “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
20. A figure of Guan Gong intricately crafted to portray a dignified and majestic expression on his face.
21. A tea caddy seen here is embellished with a 24k dragon which symbolises good luck, happiness and prosperity in the Chinese culture.
22. Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen, the Director of Royal Selangor was seen holding a replica of the famous Melon Teapot which has saved the life of a villager named Ah Ham during Second World War when he bent down to pick the pot up just as a bomb fell and a shrapnel whizzed past his head.
23. Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen was elaborating about the story of the famous Melon Teapot to the visitors.
24. A picture of Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen standing next to the counter at the retail store in the Visitor Centre.
25. The hands of fame which is a long wall with hand prints of Royal Selangor craftsmen who have served in the company for more than five years. As a matter of fact, most of these craftmens have been with the company for over twenty years.
26. The world’s biggest tankard as seen outside the Royal Selangor building. The tankard was crafted in 1985 by six skilled artisans. The tankard weighs 1,557-kg and stands at 1,987 mm tall with a volume capacity of 2,796 litres.
Royal Selangor International Sdn Bhd
4 Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya
53300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 41456000
Fax: +60 3 4021 6831