One of Malaya’s earliest form of official currency, where people would carry the entire piece with them, and break off as many coins as needed.
Royal Selangor needs no introduction in Malaysia. Being Malaysia’s premier pewter manufacturer and retailer, their products are well-known to make the perfect gifts for just about any occasion.
Pewter is an alloy, mostly used as decorative items. Did you know that the Oscar statuette is actually cast in pewter? It is then treated with nickel, silver and finally 24k gold. A pewter cauldron is also required for first-year students at Hogwarts.
In 1885 by Chinese immigrant, Yong Koon, came from China to try his hand at the booming tin mining industry in Kuala Lumpur. The mining town slowly rose to become the country’s capital. He soon started his pewter factory, Selangor Pewter, and was well-received by locals and British expatriates. After receiving an endorsement from the Sultan of Selangor, Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, in 1979, Selangor Pewter renamed itself as Royal Selangor 3 years later.
One of Royal Selangor’s standout pieces is the Melon Teapot, and it tells an engaging story. During World War II, many resorted to scavenging for food, and one of them was a villager named Ah Ham. Amongst the chaos, a melon-shaped teapot caught his eye and he bent down to pick it up, narrowly missing shrapnel from a bomb which was just dropped nearby. The teapot came to be his lucky charm, which happened to be an original creation by Yong Koon.
The Melon Teapot replica is released in conjunction with the Visitor’s Centre 10th anniversary. The teapots represent the unique characteristics of Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore, with matte black, metallic blue and metallic pink respectively, and only 200 pieces per colour are produced.
I was privileged to be given the opportunity to explore Royal Selangor’s Visitor Centre at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and participate in The Foundry (RM150) and School of Hard Knocks (RM60) workshops.
At The Foundry, we made pewter accessories from scratch and brought one home. I chose the teardrop mold, and proceeded with casting and polishing the pewter piece. As for the School of Hard Knocks, we handcrafted a pewter dish just like how Yong Koon did it: with a wooden mallet and mould to knock the flat piece of pewter into a dish. The workshop’s name make sense now 😉
Admission to the Visitor Centre and the guided tour is free, and it gives a great insight on handcrafted metalwork and history of Kuala Lumpur.