My Amazing Life-Chapter 6, What Do You Get When You Mix….Copper, Antimony and Tin???

We pulled into the parking lot of the Royal Selangor Factory in the mid morning and the Malaysian heat and humidity were intense. As we left the tour bus I spied this huge tankard at the entrance to the factory. It made me think immediately of how good a cold beer would taste just now, while the perspiration dribbled down my brow. The only issue is, since my heart attack ten years ago, I can’t really partake of any alcohol without waking up with the world’s biggest hangover the next morning. Oh well a man can dream can’t he?

 

World's Largest Pewter Tankard

World’s Largest Pewter Tankard

 

We entered the factory and thank God the place was air conditioned. We registered and received our passes and listened to an introductory speech in regard to the history of the factory. We learned exactly how a young “Pewtersmith” named Yong Koon left his home in China and settled in Colonial Malayia in 1885. He made the decision to abide in Kuala Lampur, which at the time was a small but expanding mining town. Pewter is an alloy made primarily from tin with small portions of antimony and copper blended in. It is the most precious metal in the world after gold and silver.

 

The Three Ingredients of Pewter

The Three Ingredients of Pewter

 

As we began the tour we came across many glassed in display examples of antique items. We saw original ingots and tools used in the processing of pewter. I am a history buff and enjoy items that represent the past and can only imagine how difficult starting the foundry from scratch was.

 

Old Pewter Ingots

Old Pewter Ingots

 

To see kettles and urns from long ago, along with items that were made more than likely before I was born, is stimulating and rewarding to a history buff. I was in heaven as we sauntered through the cases filled with items from the early days of pewtersmithing.

 

Original Kettle Examples

Original Kettle Examples

 

I then learned how much of the work is still done by hand. I was blown away that these individuals have such a high concentration level and can block out all distractions, to enhance the items with their natural talents. If I were a betting man I would have gone “all in” on a machine making the engraving on the pewter cups, etc.

 

A Great Deal of the Work is Still Done By Hand

A Great Deal of the Work is Still Done By Hand

 

We were led through a walkway that overlooked the foundry and all the various stations that assembled the different components and items. One could see out over the majority of the factory and to my dismay they were all at lunch apparently. I would have loved to see them laboring at their craft.

 

A Workstation at The Royal Selangor Factory

A Workstation at The Royal Selangor Factory

 

We found out at the end of the factory tour that this was an interactive tour and we each would be making our own individual pewter pendant and had to pick from a myriad of designs. Being a type A personality, I immediately chose a heart and decided I would surprise my wife with it upon my return.

 

We had to pour the hot pewter into a mold and let it cool. We then had to clip the extra pieces with snips, that had spilled over from the mold. Then we smoothed and sanded the item with a file and electric buffer. This all from a guy that can’t even hit a nail correctly with a lightweight hammer. It came out good enough to please Kim and that is all that counts!

 

One of the Benifits of the Tour is Making Your Own Pendant

One of the Benefits of the Tour is Making Your Own Pendant

 

From the interactive station we were led into a retail shop that had rows and rows of items for sale. You could spend a dollar or many thousands of dollars. I took photo after photo of the items they had for sale and we roamed the shop for around 45 minutes or so. I was completely in awe of the items on sale and the plethora of pewter items exhibited to whet our appetite for a souvenir.

 

A Champagne Set

A Champagne Set

 

 

Tankards

Tankards 

 

 

And Still Even More Tankards

More Tankards

 

 

Ornate Vases

Ornate Vases

 

 

Teapots Contribute to a Large Portion of The Sales

Teapots Contribute to a Large Portion of The Sales

 

 

Inlaid Plates

Decorative Plates

 

 

Assorted Items

Assorted Items

 

 

A Wonderful Eagle

A Wonderful Eagle

 

 

A Lion or Big Cat of Some Kind

A Lion or Big Cat of Some Kind

 

Royal Selangor acquired Comyns, an English silversmith and many examples were on sale in a different section of the store. All the items in this area were made from silver and I might add were unique and ornate. They were lovely to look at but I certainly could not touch them.

 

They Also Work With Silver

They Also Work With Silver

 

 

More Silver Work

More Silver Work

 

If you visit Kuala Lampur Malaysia I highly recommend you take this factory tour of Royal Selangor. I am positive you will enjoy all the assorted items from the past and current popular pieces handcrafted daily. It only takes a couple of hours and is well worth the tour in my humble opinion.

 

In Case you Forget Where You Were!

In Case you Forget Where You Were!

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 responses to “My Amazing Life-Chapter 6, What Do You Get When You Mix….Copper, Antimony and Tin???”

  1. CAROLYN WILSON says:

    How very interesting. I never knew you could polish pewter to the high shine as in the Champagne set. I’ve always thought of it as that somewhat dull, yet heavy duty service ware. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Carolyn,
      I could have spent a million dollars on all the items in the retail showroom. I had no idea that such intricate work (by hand I might add) and ornate finishing could be imagined, much less actually completed. It was an amazing place and I hope I gave justice to their work. Thank you for stopping by. Much appreciated young lady and mi amiga!!!
      Mike

  2. Excellent article Mike; It’s like I was there! 🙂 Your photos are excellent too. Great piece.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Marilyn,
      You are too funny. I think in all likelihood you were there! But, my memory at times fails me big time, so I might be mistaken!!! Ha.

      Can’t wait to travel with you again and work together on a project. We need to try and grow a partnership on Texas towns and obtain FAM trips for weekend getaways. My wife and I had such a wonderful time in Palestine she wants to do it again. Thanks for stopping by and all the social media love!!!
      Mike

  3. Where have I been all this time? I don’t recall ever having heard of antimony before… I’m familiar with pewter of course but had never really stopped to think about its constituents.

    This place looks like it was worth a visit. I’d have never thought of Malaysia being home to an attraction such as this, but it appears they did a good job of presenting everything… and how neat that you could get ‘hands on’ and make your own memento.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Paul,
      Malaysia had its good and bad, but this was a great stop. I also will be publishing a post on my experience in making my own Batek print. It was very cool and I spent way too much money in their retail shop!
      Mike

  4. Lee Briggs says:

    When I think of pewter, I think of New England, and Paul Revere, who worked with pewter as well as silver. I certainly do not think of Malaysia. Not until now that is.
    The only time I have been in Asia was a year I spent on Okinawa while I was in the service. This does not do justice to the diversity of the countries that make up Asia. There are several places on my list of places I would like to visit in Asia and Malaysia is high on that list.
    Your photos show some beautiful craftsmanship — that lobster is amazing. And I’m sure if we went, my wife would have to take home one of those vases.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Lee,
      I had no idea either and was surprised that the factory existed. I do recommend the tour, but if your wife accompanies you she will make a purchase I am guessing. The retail store is unbelievable!
      Mike

  5. When I read that this giant pewter tankard was in Malaysia I was really surprised.I just wouldn’t have expected it.

    While a tour of a pewter factory wouldn’t be top of my list this does actually look very interesting but what I’d really love would be making something myself – what a wonderful souvenir, or indeed gift, from your travels.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Kat,
      It was a pleasant surprise to make the pendant. We had no idea until we finished the tour that the interactive piece was in the tour. Loved it!
      Mike

  6. Really interesting, and amazing work. I can see why you could easily spend a fortune there. I am visiting Kuala Lumpur in April and this looks like an addition to me to-do list. I love the idea of getting to get stuck in and make something there!

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Gary,
      I had a blast in Malaysia. Many many activities that I enjoyed and we stayed at 5-star luxury hotels. The food was off the charts. I know you will enjoy your visit. It was my first time in that country and I will go back!
      Mike

  7. When you think about Malaysia, I am sure that most folks would not likely consider this sort of attraction but after reading your post and the excellent pictures, I am sure this will encourage more people to want to experience this for themselves.

    No, I am not a history buff and probably wouldn’t appreciate this museum as much as you did but one thing is for sure I am always willing to learn and this looks like a great way to learn more about how much amazing work takes place.

    I think the most interesting thing to note from your post here is how much manual labor is still done on these items. We all associate modern day technology with automating everything but this just proves that high levels of concentration are still required for certain aspects of today’s society.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Chris,
      The quantity and quality of manual labor at the pewter factory and at a visit to a Batek factory was more than I anticipated. I was infatuated by the level of creative ability and how they used it in their products. I truly had no idea that this was still practiced with such wonderful results. Thanks.
      Miker

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