Why would I want to visit a pewter museum? And what’s a pewter again? Those who are not really familiar what a ‘pewter’ is may find this of no interest. But really, give it a chance, as a visit to a pewter museum factory gives an insightful journey to one of Malaysia’s industrial heritage. Pewters are malleable metal allow handcrafted into everyday objects we use, aware or not. Royal Selangor in Malaysia is one of the key companies spearheading quality pewtersmithing and distributing this finely crafted objects around the world. The museum highlights the science and the journey of pewtersmithing development.
Royal Selangor Roots
Pewter objects are part of the day to day lives of Malaysians, especially as religious accessories. In 1885, Yong Koon started making handcrafted pewter objects such as joss stick holders, incense burners and candle holders for alters in Chinese homes and temples. He sold them at his little shop called Ngeok Foh (Jade Peace) What makes Yong Koon’s pewter objects smooth and fine? They are polished with a wild tropical stone leaf (Tetracera scandens).
When the British came, the pewter objects expanded to their needs like tea pots and cups set, ashtrays and tankards. Yong Koon’s business grew to become Selangor Pewter and started exporting products around the world. The Sultan of Selangor gave official endorsement and became Royal Selangor by 1992.
Royal Selangor Museum is also where the factory is located. The building looks modern and industrial. Our guide led us to an escalator leading towards the museum. Museum tour is pretty straight forward. The first part is how significant pewters are and how it grew including celebrities that visited the place. Then there were antique pieces of finely crafted pewters when the business started. The science can be mind blowing like the huge pewter cauldron used to mine tin for pewter.
Then we entered the workshop with demo on the steps on how some of the pewter objects are made. Definitely impressive how meticulous and precise the process is especially for the more fine quality pieces. We also got a glimpse of the factory which looks so clean and orderly. It seems that workers here are quite happy with their jobs. A lot of them tend to stay more than five years on which they have a privilege to leave a mark at the company – literally. The wall of hands in the museum and factory are some of the satisfied workers who offered their skills for a length of time.
The tour ends at the shop. Pewter objects have evolved from just simple day to day use objects to collectible display pieces and objects. They take form as action figures, trophies and memorabilia.
Just outside of the museum, there’s a large tankard on display. Currently the Guinness Book of Records holder for the largest pewter tankard in the world measuring 1.97 meters tall and weighing 1,557 kg. It can fill up to 2,796 liters. This was made in 1985 to celebrate Royal Selangor’s centennial year.
Going to Royal Selangor
The museum is easily accessible by train or taxi:
- Take a RapidKL Light Rail Transit to Kelana Jaya Line. Then take a 5-minute taxi ride from Wangsa Maju Station
- Free Shuttle Van can also be arranged through the Visitor Center
- The guided tours are free in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese.
Royal Selangor Visitor Center Kuala Lumpur
4 Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya
53300 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +60 3 4145.6122
email: [email protected]
For a more convenient guided tour of Royal Selangor you can book KKday School of Hard Knocks at Royal Selangor.
Cebu Pacific offers daily flights from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, with lowest base fares starting at PHP 2,088. KL is a perfect jump off point in exploring Malaysia.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.