China, Harbin "Jewish Music-Drama Society" token (ND), circa. 1910s-1920's; no marker marks; struck in copper; weight: 7.6g; size: 25.5mm.
Obverse bears legend in Russian around edge (partially abbreviated), "Jew[ish] Mus[ical]-Dramat[ic] Society Harbin", with two Chinese characters in center, separated by a dot between them; on reverse an image of a crowned figure with lyre and legend in Russian "Czar [King] David" - possibly the name of the society. Oddly, the Russian lettering on the reverse is written right-to-left the way Hebrew would be written. Plain edge and rim. In VF-EF.
Jews began arriving in the Chinese city of Harbin in 1899, following China's granting of a concession to Russia to build a railway station there. The Jewish community there developed quickly, particularly due to anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia. Of note, the Jews developed Harbin's cultural life such that by the 1920's the city was known as the "Paris of the Orient" and the "City of Music". Sources note that Harbin's Jewish community created a Jewish cultural club known by its abbreviation "Yilmadag" (similar sounding to the abbreviations used on this token), which presented lectures in Russian and Yiddish, dramatic performances and musical evenings.
This token is probably connected to the activities of Joseph Kaspe, the owner of Harbin's premier and luxurious "Hotel Moderne", which hosted many of the city's musical and dramatic productions; his son, Simon, was a gifted piantist who was kidnapped by anti-Semitic white-Russian elements in 1933, held for ransom and murdered. Of Harbin's Jewish heritage perhaps the most well known former residents are the parents of Israel's former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert.
מילות מפתח: מדליות מוסדות עמותה עמותות יהודיות בית בתי ספר מרכז קהילתי סין חרבין חארבין יודאיקה יוקאיכה