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TitleLists of advertising hoardings or stations throughout the International Settlement, with their measurements (1914)
Year Start1914
DateWednesday 11 January 2017

This table provides a list of advertising hoardings or stations throughout the Settlement, with their measurements, as required from the Engineer and Building Surveyor by the Council, in May 1914. This is actually the first attempt to inventoriate existing advertisements in Shanghai. The ultimate goal of that census was to establish a scale of fees based on the actual space covered by advertisements (in square feet). Therefore, that enterprise can be considered as the first municipal attempt to "rationalize" and "rate" advertising space. 

This table is composed of four sheet:

  1. the first one indicates the total advertising space covered by either a given company, or in a given district (Hongkew):
  2. the second one provides the list of advertising stations/hoardings erected by the Oriental Advertising Agency, mentioning their location, the number of boards, their dimensions, and the advertiser/brand name;
  3. the third one provides the list of advertising stations under control of the Harvey Bill Posting Agency, mentioning their location, the number of signs and their dimensions (size of space, size of signs, size for bill posting);
  4. the fourth/last one measures the space used for advertising in the Hongkew district (location, area covered by advertising matter).

This table was established after the following archival materials:

General Buildings Advertisements - Taxation of Street Advertising. Measuring Advertising Space. 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3267 (1043-1069).

Letter to Secretary to Engineer & Surveyor. Shanghai, May 20, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1043).

The Council now requires from you a list of the existing buildings carrying advertisements, advertising hoardings or stations throughout the Settlement, with such measurements and particulars as are necessary for their assessment. I have written letters of enquiry to the five principal advertising agents, requesting them to send a list of the stations under their control, and these when furnished, should be of considerable hepl to you, but the Council desires that your return shall be an independent one, and that you should check all the information received.
Hoardings round new buildings in the course of erection will not be rated and may therefore be excluded from the list.  

Engineer & Surveyor to Secretary - Advertising Hoardings - Your S/0 64 of 20th May, 1914. Shanghai, June 26, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1044).

I am not quite clear in my as to exactly what is required but by way of commencement have had a census taken of advertising hoardings in the Northern District.  / The result, with a covering Departmental Report by the Building Surveyor, is now submitted. / If this is what is required, I will have the other districts proceeded with.

Building Surveyor to Engineer & Surveyor - Advertising Hoardings - Your S/0 64 of 20th May, 1914. Shanghai, June 26, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1045-1046).

The Oriental Advertising Company and Harvey's Bill Posting Agency have submitted lists of hoardings and bill posting stations leased by them. The Oriental Advertising Co's list contains sizes and positions of movable boards only, excluding those in front of fences enclosing building now in course of construction, and does not make mention of any boards in the Western District altough I think they own a few in that part of the Settelement, the area covered by their boards, as per list = about 4,600 square feet whilst the area leased by Harvey(s Bill Posting Agency = 25,400. This space is occupied by posters and movable painted boards.
Attached to this report is a list of spaces in the Hogkew District which are being used as "stations" for miscellaneous forms of advertising, by firms other than the two mentioned above. The area of the space covered equals approximately 44,900 square feet. It is reasonable to estimate that a census of the spaces being used for advertising in the remainder of the Settlement would who an area of at least 50.000 square feet, which, as will be seen, from the following table makes a grand total of 125,300 square feet available for taxation. (...)  Assuming that the minimum fee of Tls. 0.05 were charged for the above area, the annual revenue would amount to Tls. 6,245.

Advertising Hoardings - Resolution VI. Shanghai, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1063).

Advertising Hoardings. Resolution VI - That in addition to the General Municipal Rate authorized in Revolution V the Council be hereby authorized to impose upon the occupier of land upon which any building carrying advertisements, advertising hoarding or station is erected a Special Rate to be assessed by the Council according to locality at the rate of from Tls. 0.05 to Tls. 5 per annum per square foot of advertisement, and to collect and recover the same.  

Taxation of Advertisements - Overseer of Taxes to Secretary. Shanghai, July 14, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1064-1065).

With the view of the collection of the special rate on advertisements, te S.O. to the Engineer of May 20 (1914) (copy appended) directs that such particulars should be furnished as are necessary for assssment. The Engineer's recent report gave some information enabling taxation in the Northern District to be commenced but the return is incomplete in the following respects :
1 - When advertisements are erected on land where there are no houses, the landowner should be stated. 2 - The advertisements enumerated in the lists from the advertising firms stated to be excluded from teh return, should be included.
As to the former point, Resolution VI (Annual Meeting March 20) authorised levy of the rate on "the occupier of land upon which any building carrying advertisements, advertising hoarding or station is erected". In the case of advertisements on houses, the householder, being the occupier, is respecislbe but in the case of advertisements on land where there are no houses, the rate should be paid by the landowner. Assuming that where there are houses on the land the special rate is recoverable from the householders, the Engineer's return supplies sufficient information for commencement of collection of the rate in the Northern District: but in the cases where there are no houses on the land it will be necessary for the Public Works Department to supply the Cadastral lot numbers, in order that the rate may be demanded from the landowner. In the list submitted there are 47 cases where for this reason the data given are insufficient.
As to the second point, it is to be noted that the instructions were that the information received from the various advertising firms should be checked by the Department. In the Engineer's report, the lists from the Oriental Advertising Company and the Harvey's Bill Postin Agency seem merely to have been copied, and the return is stated to exclude the information which they contain. The return is incomplete in this respect. It should include the measurements of advertisements on all advertising spaces on which the special rate is leviable in the district. I understood that the Engineer's lists was to be an independent one.  
The estimate of the total areas in the other districts while interesting cannot of course be used. Similar lists to that now furnished for the Northern District should be submitted for the other districts. I would like as early as possible the particulars necessary to enable me to commence collecting in the Western District, where it is evidently more needed.  

Engineer & Surveyor to Secretary - Advertising Hoardings. Shanghai, July 14, 1914. Source : SMA (SMC), U1-14-3263 (1066-1067).

Before going further into this matter I would suggest certain alterations in the present arrangements for the measurements of the hoardings and the collection of teh fees. The present proposal is that this Department should provide all the necessary information and that the Tax Office should collect the fees. This would entail considerable duplication of work by the two Departments and an uncessary waste of time sending men from two Departments to visit the same places when it is possible for one man to deal with the measurements and collection entirely.
I would recommend that the matter be placed in the hands of the Tax Office as in any case they must collect the fees. I would further suggest that as the Tax Office will need additional staff to deal with the work that District Inspector Schultz be transferred to this works.
In conjunction with the colleciton of fees for hoardings, Schultz could combine the necessary function of supervisiong fire hydrants for which moieties of his salary would be payable by the Fire Department and Waterworks Company. The question of the allocation of his salary could be arranged later.

Schultz is a suitable man for the position but as he is getting on in years I am quite prepared to take him back when the Overseer of Taxes considers that he is not capable of performing his work efficiently, as it is only fair that as the P.W.D has had his services during the best years of his life the Tax Department should not be saddled with him when he is old. Under ordinary circumstances this should not be for some years yet I think.
If the Council approves of the proposal I could arrange matters of detail with the Overseer of Taxes.

Keywordslist, census, board, station, building, space, rationalization, measurement, dimension, taxation
LanguageChinese, English

IS_Inventory_1914_U1-14-3267 (190).xlsx (74.68 ko)

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