Seven century-old, white marble clapboards embossed with carvings of the
Egyptian Sphinx were recently found in a hotel storage room that has been sealed
The storage room at the Shanghai Astor House Hotel also contained several
other century-old utensils, including an American hurricane lamp, an English
ammeter, four blades of an American electric fan, and 37 white marble candle
holders, according to Zuo Yan, who has worked at the hotel for more than 20
"I believe that these aged items are the only intact ones existing in the
city," he said. "It'll be impossible to find any others as old as them."
The antiques will first be appraised, then be repaired, and finally be put in
their former places or exhibited to the public, said Li Hao, a manager at the
He said some old photos show that the clapboards and candlesticks were once
used to decorate the hotel's Peacock Hall, the city's first ballroom and the
biggest one in Shanghai during the 1930s.
"We'll relocate them to where they were, providing them a chance to function
again as before," Li added.
The Astor House Hotel, located on the north end of the Waibaidu Bridge near
the Bund, was regarded as the most deluxe western hotel in the city and one of
the best in China during the first half of the 20th century. It was once the
first choice for many international celebrities, such as Albert Einstein and
Its architecture, which mixes different elements of the baroque, Victorian
and Spanish styles, is still a unique attraction for many visitors, said Zhou
Yourong, office director of the hotel.
He said the hotel is currently undergoing a major restoration, and more
antiques are expected to reappear.
"The most classical item is expected to stand in the center of our rebuilt
front hall, telling the customers the hotel's past, and the city's former glory
as an international trading port," he said.