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February 2, 2016

Amazing Photographs Capture Everyday Life of Old Shanghai During the 1920s and 1930s

Old Shanghai was a city unlike any other. Notable for its free port, it was where the whole world came to work and play. Disparate Europeans and adventuring Americans rubbed shoulders with Jewish émigrés, Japanese expats and Russians: it was indeed a city with many faces.

In the 1920s, an eighteen year old Frenchman called Louis-Philippe Messelier set forth for the city of Shanghai to partake in the buzzing wool trade there. Based in the French concession of Shanghai, he juggled his business career with taking photographs as a journalist for the French Journal of Shanghai.

Louis-Philippe Messelier was everywhere: down the streets to see the ritual processions, the acrobats and the snake charmers; at the races with the local aristocracy; inside film studios; on the top of roof taking aerial views; in the countryside admiring the beauty of antic remains or fishermen’s cottages. He captured everything in a sincere and singular manner.

Snake charmer, Shanghai, 1929

Japanese ladies in Shanghai's harbor, 1930

Shanghai, the Bund, 1929

Crowd and boats on the bund N°1, Shanghai, 1929

Crowd and boats on the bund N°2, Shanghai, 1929

Young Acrobats N°1 French concession, Shanghai, 1930

Street Theater, 1928, Shanghai

Making a movie N°1, circa 1930

Religious dignitary, Shanghai, circa 1930

Japanese itinerant Kumosu monk, Shanghai, circa 1932

Playong Mahjong

Fuzhou street, French concession, Shanghai, circa 1930

Junks on the Huang-Pu river, Shanghai, 1930

At the Racecourse

Old man eating noodles in his shop, bird in a cage, Shanghai, 1923



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