“Notice is hereby given that the undersigned have formed a partnership under name of Fong Inn as Furniture Manufacturers and Dealers at No. 1152 Nuʻuanu St., Honolulu. Dated July 24, 1909. Yuen Kwock, Gin Jau” (the Polynesian, July 26, 1909)
A couple years before, Fong Inn Co was operated through a partnership between Le Wa Cheung and Gin Jau (it dissolved through notice in the newspaper on June 4, 1907 – Gin Jau assumed the debts and liabilities.)
Fong Inn (Yuen Kwock) was born in Chung Shan District, Kwantung Province, China in 1873. He came to Hawaii in 1898 and started a Chinese import company (that was devastated in the 1900 Chinatown fire.)
In the Islands he held office in the United Chinese Society and the See Dai Doo Society and was the longest living founder of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1911.
Fong Inn and his son, Henry, visited the Orient often. In 1915, they brought back fine silk, Chinese antiques, pieces of art and jewelry. (Louie)
“Collectors in Peking, Nanking, Shanghai and Canton employed by the Fong Inn Company, 1152 Nuʻuanu street have gotten from private houses and individual artists, a collection of Chinese good’s which is probably not equalled anywhere out of China.”
“The embroidered goods, intricate and delicate, appeal especially. There are table covers, wall strips, handkerchiefs, kimonos and other articles, beautiful in design and coloring, and some of which must have taken months of work. They have even small ladles’ purses, hand-embroidered and exquisitely done, and there are many pretty Chinese slippers.”
“The Fong Inn Company has ancient Chinaware, some vases as old as 400 years and worth $300, and others more modern, but just as pretty and much cheaper.”
“There are works of art by famous Chinese artists, beautiful lanterns of teakwood, with hand-painted glass panels, amber beads, portieres, mandarin coats colored like the rainbow jades, crystals and necklaces of amber, besides a hundred other beautiful curios and useful articles.” (Star Bulletin, December 16, 1915)
“So impressed was Herbert Fleishhacker, the San Francisco millionaire banker, with Honolulu’s Oriental shops as places in which rare curios may be obtained, that he purchased great quantities of things here, his bill at the store of Fong Inn, 1152 Nuʻuanu street, having run well into five figures, besides purchases for smaller amounts elsewhere.”
“The goods are now being packed, and will go to the coast on the next steamer, to be put into Mr. Fleishhacker’s private museum, which is considered one of the largest and most costly in San Francisco.”
“Among the articles purchased from Fong Inn, numbering about 75 in all, were several authentic pieces dating back to the Sung Dynasty (960 to 1127 AD), several made during the ascendancy of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD), and one very rare piece from a period about 185 BC.”
“One folding screen is an especially striking work of art, with eight semiprecious stones, including jade, ivory, cornelian, mother of pearl and moonstones, Inlaid on a background of dull ebony.”
“Mr. Fleischhacker also purchased several pieces of cloisonne, some lacquer work screens, old embroideries, Ivory carvings, red lacquer bowls, paintings on silks and parchments, and rare porcelains and bronzes.” (Star Bulletin, December 8, 1915)
Many of the prized antiques found their way into homes throughout the Islands. Their customers were the Cookes, Judds, Dillinghams, Baldwins, Damons and other who’s who of Hawaii.
Father and son became close friends with many kamaʻaina families and worked closely with the Cooke family to supply the Honolulu Art Academy with Asian treasures and helped assist Mrs. Cooke to acquire the famous scroll, The Hundred Geese, attributed to painter Ma Fen. (Louie)
While Fong Inn became one of Honolulu’s leading art importers, especially Chinese antiques … they were also Honolulu’s largest koa furniture manufacturer.
He began the House of Fong Inn, the leading manufacturer of koa furniture that made beds for Hawaiian Royalty and many wealthy clients.
In 1938, Fong Inn built a building in Waikiki using yellow tile similar to the roof of the Imperial Palace. Fong Inn’s new building, on Kalākaua Avenue, was designed by Roy Kelley (an architect before he built his Outrigger Hotels.) This building later was the home of the Hawaii Tourist Bureau. (Louie)