Advertisement of a Shop inside a North Borneo’s Newspaper in 1904

Curious of how newspaper ads in North Borneo used to look like in 1904? It was simple and yet entertaining as well.

We are bombarded with all sorts of advertisements nowadays – be it on the TV, newspaper, radio, billboards, internet and even on our Facebook. More than 100 years ago, you can probably see them on newspapers only. One example is the one shown above that was published on a local North Borneo newspaper.

The name of the business is M. Hadjee Adamsahib & Co. which obviously was named after its owner. ‘Sahib’ is a name of Arabic and Turkish origin meaning “holder, master.” It is shown that Adamsahib had established a total of three shops – Sandakan in 1883, Jesselton in 1901 and Jolo in The Philippines in 1898. Adamsahib really took advantage of opening a branch in Jesselton just one year after it was declared as a new port in 1900.

Adamsahib also creatively used every letter in his name to list out all the products and items he sold in his stores. A for Aspinall’s Enamel – apparently this is a house paint that was once a major brand in the UK. I wonder what sort of colours were available back then?

Judging by the variety of items he sold in his stores, it can be considered a hypermarket by today’s standard. I could get almost anything I want to be able to live comfortably.

I believe in those days, to be able to publish an ad like this would cost a substantial amount of money. Adamsahib could already be a “millionaire” back then. If only someone has a photo of his shop, then that would be something.

Update: Adamsahib died in India in 1913 as reported in The Straits Times of Singapore. It was also mentioned that he was the head of the Muslim community in Sandakan before.

Last but not least, he also had the Hadjee title in front of his name which proves that the usage of this word is not exclusive to one religion. :)

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image via LMK

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About The Author

I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally any related information on this website. I'm also the author of and Follow me on Twitter @richardker.

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