Opium Boxes

Opium was imported to American Chinatowns and labor camps, such as Yema-po, in small copper* boxes. Each box contained approximately 6 1/2 oz. of opium and cost around $8. The sides and lids of 18 of these opium boxes were uncovered at Yema-po.

The lids are embossed with Chinese characters indicating the name of the manufacturer/ exporter and the firm's address in China. The example on the right reads "Hong Kong, The Middle District." The name of the firm reads Zhi He Xing, and translate as "Harmony and Good Luck."

*Although these boxes are often described as being made of brass, a scanning electron microscope study of the Yema-po opium boxes by Marge Simkins in 1981 showed them to be composed of almost pure copper.
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