Friday, September 1, 2017

Wong Kai Kee, Artist and Printer, and His Progressive Wife

The New York Times
April 15, 1895
A Chinese Directory.
A Chinese Directory has been issued by W. Kai Kee of 1 Doyers Street. It is printed in red and green ink, on a single sheet of paper, 18 by 24 inches, and includes 500 names of the more important Chinese families of New-York and San Francisco. Names of Chinese laundrymen are excluded from the list. The New-York list includes only the names of men doing business in Doyers, Mott, and Pell Streets.

The Los Angeles Herald
March 15, 1896
As Chinamen See Us
Kai Kee, the distinguished Chinese artist, has made some pictures of New York life for the readers of the Sunday Journal. Kai Kee has established a little studio at No. 1 Doyers street, where he has decided to settle after his
fame and reputation at the Chicago world’s fair. He was sent to the exposition from his native land to superintend the construction of the Chinese government buildings at the fair.

Kai is not as particular about the implements he uses for making pictures and sketches as some of the great American artiste. He discards the best pens and pencils and uses in their place a sharpened bit of stick.

He was more than pleased when requested to make some pictures for the Journal. Mr. Kai Kee begins hie pictorial impressions of New York life with a sketch of the crowd at the entrance to the Brooklyn bridge. Then he was taken to the menagerie in Central park and given an hour’s opportunity to study the monkey pavilion.

The great variety of queer things which confronted him there were of such interest to the artist that he decided not to sketch them then, but would wait till he reached his studio
and studied out the plan of his picture.

Mr. Kee is a well dressed little Chinaman and his taste for style makes him a student, of American swells, both male and female. Tho artist’s picture of the New York man-about-town shows him with a large bunch of vegetation for a boutonniere
and a plethora of diamonds.

The Daily Morning Journal and Courier
(New Haven, Connecticut)
August 4, 1896
Celebration in Chinatown.
Li Hung Chang Will Receive a Noisy Reception on His Arrival in New York.
New York, Aug. 3.—The residents of Chinatown say they are going to have a first class celebration the day their illustrious fellow countryman, Li Hung Chang, arrives in New York. They
haven’t fully decided just what they are going to do, but they are determined to do something.One thing is sure; they are going to shoot off lots of firecrackers and burn red fire in large quantities.

The supply of lanterns and fireworks now available in Chinatown is not deemed equal to such an occasion as Li Hung’s arrival, so word has been sent to San Francisco for a new supply. The money was sent with the order, and when the new material arrives the size of the celebration can be better determined.

W. Kai Kee, the printer residing at 1 Doyers street, says that every person in Chinatown is Interested in the proposed celebration, and that it promises to eclipse any previous effort at noise making within the memory of the oldest resident. W. Kai Kee says further that lanterns w(lll be hung from every projecting nail within the limits of the settlement, and that Li Hung will miss something great if he doesn’t visit
Chinatown the first night he is in this city.

The visitor has already accepted an invitation to dine with the Chinese consulat the latter’s house in West Ninth street.

Li Hung is booked to sail from Southampton on the steamship St. Louis which should arrive in New York on August 28.

The New York Times
May 13, 1900
The Printing Show.
Large Attendance at Only Exhibition of Kind Ever Held.
…From the old stone engravings of the earliest Chinese printers to the whirring, buzzing, almost sentient perfecting presses of to-day is a long cry. Three thousand five hundred years or more, yet every phase of the development of the art of printing between these two station points is accurately and adequately represented in the big show. Kai Kee, the Chinese printer, from 1 Doyers Street, exhibits a lithograph of Confucius engraved from a stone twenty-four centuries old, and the stone, wood, and bronze types and plates which have marked the progress of typography in the Orient….

The New York Times
May 17, 1900
Chow Tszchi at the Printing Show.
Chow Tszchi, the Imperial Chinese Consul at this port, was an interested visitor to the big printing show last evening. Chow was attired in his official robes, and when he approached the booth of Kai Kee, the Chinese printer from Doyers Street, that exhibitor promptly prostrated himself and awaited the pleasure of the official representative of his imperial master. Chow Tszchi has loaned Kai Kee many interesting Chinese books and manuscripts, which are exhibited at the exposition, but yesterday the Chinese Consul came to learn of the advancement made in American printing machinery, and he placed some orders for the modern equipment of the Government offices in Peking, Chow was formerly an attache of the Chinese Legation at Washington, and, although he has only been in the country three years, speaks English well.

Inland Printer
June 1900
p407: The Printing Exposition in New York.
…W. Kai Kee, the Chinese printer of New York, furnished another popular exhibit by showing the method of printing in China.

New York Tribune
Illustrated Supplement
May 24, 1903
p5 c4: Evidences That Chinamen in America Are Mentally Broadening and Shaking Off Racial Faults
…”But we dislike the American dress,” said Mrs. Wung Tai Kee, of No. 1 Doyers-st., who is an intelligent woman and an able partner in the business of her husband, the sign painter of Chinatown. “We Chinese women,” she continued, “abominate the corset. In out native country we have the evil custom of pinching the feet. But dwarfing the feet cannot harm a woman as the squeezing of the waist. When you dwarf the waist you dwarf the heart. One may have a pygmy pair of feet and still have a healthy body. But the Chinese are progressing. We are putting a stop to feet binding. Therefore, I should think the American women, who claim to be so progressive, would follow our example. Why don’t they throw away their corsets?”

The New York Times
April 21, 1906
The Chinese Sufferers.
List of Those Burned Out Prepared for Their New York Brothers.
In Chinatown yesterday Kai Kee of 1 Doyers Street gout out a printed list of the names of the big Chinese firms burned out in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The list was six feet long.

At the head of the list was printed the streets. The names followed in Chinese characters printed in red at the left and in English letters in green at the right. The street number followed the name in English. In some instances the business of the firm was given.

When I Am Rich
Roy Mason
G.W. Dillingham Company, 1909
page 249: …Next to the umbrella of state was a Chinese calendar all in Mongolian characters except for the fact conveyed in English at the bottom that W. Kai Kee & Co., of 72 Bayard Street, New York, was the editor and owner.

Related Posts
Wong Kai Kee on Assignment
Where in The World Is Wong Kai Kee?
Wong Kai Kee’s Wife and Family
Wong Kai Kee in Hiding
Wong Kai Kee in Collier’s Magazine
Wong Kai Kee in Jail
Wong Kai Kee a.k.a.
Wong Kai Kee and David Carradine

(Next post on Friday: Jeanyee Wong, 1920-2017)

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