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Huttenbach, Lazarus And Sons Ltd
The four images above are advertisements from 1925 that were supplied by Huttembach Lazarus & Co. as Malayan agencies of the Western manufacturers. From the left is Vinolia Toilet Soap, Lifebouy Soap, Wincarnis, a tonic drink and Kensitas Cigarettes (from Ipoh Remembered). These are but a few of the agencies held by the company.
HuttenBach, Lazarus & Co., incorporated in Singapore in 1920 was one of several companies in Malaya carrying the name Huttenbach and they all started with one man Augustus Huttenbach , who settled in Penang in the 1870sand introduced innovative German engineering techniques there. These included the installation of petrol lamps in Penang in 1874. He became a Leggislative Councillor there in 1894. Earlier in 1889 he had become a naturalized Englishman and a year later married an English woman.
His son, Norman was educated at Harroe, one of the two prestige boys’ schools in England.
Very much into engineering Augustus he started first of all as an assistant to the Katz brothers, but, in 1873, founded his first company Huttenbach, Liebert & Co. who were agents for the Dutch KPM shipping line. There followed Huttenbach Brothers Shipping in 1885, with offices in Penang and London and in 1903 wtarted a machinery department specializing in the mining, saw milling and agriculture industries and by 1911 had the agencies for forty Western companies..
Then, in 1920, came Huttenbach, Lazarus & Company with offices in Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and in Station Road, Ipol (next to the Straits Trading Buildingas confirmed by Ipoh Remembered). They provided electrical supplies across several states, supplied street lighting to Taiping, set up generating stations to illuminate mines and plantations and many major items for the mines. With two factories in Penang, electrical showrooms, a tile works and a wealth of overseas agencies including such diverse items as Cigarettes, Soap and Corona Typewriters, the Huttenach name rode high in Malaya.
Ipoh Remembered adds:
Huttenbach, Lazarus & Sons was not a German company. Its predecessor, Huttenbach Brothers & Co., was founded in the 1880s by Ludwig and August Hüttenbach, German emigrant siblings who had moved to London and Penang. The brothers were naturalized British citizens. They served energetically in the government of the Straits Settlements. Their children went to eminent British schools. A son, Norman, fought for Britain against Germany in WWI.
The original firm engaged in a panoply of activities throughout Malaya, from importing soap to selling ice to providing passenger and mail services via steamship to buying and selling tin to making and furnishing electricity to tin mines and rubber estates. You could say all those activities were actually their first string.
That original firm, Huttenbach Brothers, was shuttered when its successor, Huttenbach, Lazarus & Sons, was incorporated in Singapore in June of 1920. It was a sort of joint venture: Lewis Lazarus & Sons was an old London metals-trading firm; the two firms agreed to be agents for each other. By 1931 there were no more Hüttenbachs in “Huttenbach, Lazarus & Sons.” (Ludwig had died of pneumonia in 1913 and August died in the world-wide influenza pandemic of 1918.) The firm was owned lock, stock, and barrel by the London firm of Shaw, Darby — and after Lewis, Lazarus & Sons was almost destroyed by speculators in the London tin market in 1932, it was Shaw, Darby who decided that Huttenbach, Lazarus & Sons should pull out of Ipoh, its activities to be taken over by Sime, Darby. In 1935 Huttenbach, Lazarus & Sons ceased to exist altogether; a new company, Huttenbachs, was formed in Malaya to generate and sell electricity to municipalities, mostly in Penang and Kedah. Finally in 1964, even this activity was terminated with the advent and growth of Malaysia’s own government-run Central Electricity Board.
Before there was electrification in Malaya, there were street lamps that used other fuels, e. g., kerosene. Huttenbach Brothers was a leader in this field. The brothers had started in London; they provided the same service in Singapore and Penang, as well as in Taiping and Ipoh. After Huttenbach, Lazarus was formed, among the projects it undertook was the provision of electric light to the Ipoh Club in 1922 (the Club was told it would be able to sell excess electricity, but that’s not exactly what happened; and yes, that’s another story).
When the original firm, Huttenbach Brothers, arrived in Ipohcirca 1910, the office was on Station Road, right next to the Straits Trading building. When Huttenbach, Lazarus was formed in 1920, it took over that Station Road office. In 1931, when the Cheng Bok Building was completed, Huttenbach Lazarus moved in — but it was a short tenancy: the firm ceased to exist in Ipoh in 1932.
Ipoh Remembered writes about Wincarnis:
In Malaya in the old days, because Wincarnis contained so much alcohol one could only obtain it legally from licensed chemists. In Ipoh this meant you could easily obtain it from any of the British chemists, from Oldfield all the way down. Some women would order it by the case: something like $2 per bottle.
By the 1960s, the law had changed and even some of the bigger Chinese grocery shops were stocking Wincarnis on their shelves, next to those little eight-packs of Brand's Essence of Chicken.
The original distributor in Malaya: Maynard & Company Ltd of 14 Battery Road, Singapore (the firm that Oldfield left to come to Ipoh).
After the distribution agrement with Maynard expired, Coleman, the manufacturer, tried for some years to market Wincarnis in Malaya directly from England. As you can imagine, this did not work too well, so, in 1925, a Malayan agency was set up with Huttenbach — and you've seen their advertisements. When Huttenbach was dragged down a scant few years later by its association with Lazarus & Sons, all its Malayan agencies, including Wincarnis, were inherited by Sime, Darby.
To see a packet of Lifebuoy Soap in our collection, click here.
To read about the Vinolia Compant, click here.