Part 12: The East Asiatic Company – the Ties of Trade and People from Bangkok to Copenhagen

Part 12: The East Asiatic Company – the Ties of Trade and People from Bangkok to Copenhagen

วันที่นำเข้าข้อมูล 20 Aug 2021

วันที่ปรับปรุงข้อมูล 29 Nov 2022

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The East Asiatic Company (EAC) has a very unique place in the history of Denmark's growing relationship with Thailand. The company was founded in 1897 by Hans Niels Andersen, a Danish Sea Captain, who first arrived in Bangkok in 1873 and later became the captain of H.M. Chulalongkorn's Siamese bark, “Thoon Kramom”.

The East Asiatic Company was established based on Andersen & Co., a company which Hans Niels Andersen and his colleague, Captain Peter Andersen, initially set up in Bangkok in 1884. The company’s businesses included trading and shipping of teak and later also became the proprietor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Andersen & Co. also played a significant role in the development of Siam before it became part of the East Asiatic Company.

At the time when Hans Niels Andersen established the East Asiatic Company in Denmark in March 1897, the company had offices only in Copenhagen and Bangkok. The Copenhagen office functioned as a European hub and worldwide importing and exporting enterprise, while the Bangkok office oversaw import activities and forestry enterprises taken over from Andersen & Co., including teak wood export and plantations.

As globalization gained pace, the East Asiatic Company’s vitality waned, and the firm was finally closed down in 2014. Today, the East Asiatic Company Heritage Building in Bangkok is still standing in Soi Charoen Krung 40 in Bang Rak District along Chao Phraya River, near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The building honors one of Thailand's most significant historical periods in international trade as well as strong economic ties between Thailand and Denmark. In 1984, the well-conserved East Asiatic Company Heritage Building received the Architectural Conservation Award from the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage, and Department of Fine Arts has registered it as a historical site. During the Bangkok Art Biennale in November 2018, it was also used as one of the exhibition venues.

Another historical remnant of the East Asiatic Company's collaboration with Thailand is the Teak Museum, located in Thailand's Phrae Province in the north. The museum’s buildings were used as the company's office and lodging for executives and officers during its teak concession. The museum also exhibits photos of the history of woodworking and the equipment used and exported in the past.

In Denmark, an important legacy of the East Asiatic Company is Asia House, which served as the Company’s first head office in Denmark from 1898-1907. Today, the Asia House building is owned by the East Asiatic Company Foundation and serves as a focal point for its work to preserve knowledge of the Company’s history and to promote strong ties between Denmark and Asia.

Not only was East Asiatic Company extensively involved in Thailand’s commercial aspect, but it also helped strengthen Thai-Danish diplomatic relations. A testimony to this was the establishment of the Honorary Consulate of Thailand in Copenhagen on 12 May 1898, where Hans Niels Andersen was appointed as the first Honorary Consul and served until 1932. After that, Thailand appointed former employee with high-ranking positions in the East Asiatic Company to serve this position, even after the establishment of the Royal Thai Embassy in Denmark in 1958. The Royal Thai Honorary Consul General in Copenhagen was officially closed in 2020, following the passing of Mr. Carsten Dencker Nielsen, who was the last Honorary Consul-General of Thailand in Copenhagen, in 2019. Over a century of its existence, the Honorary Consulate of Thailand in Copenhagen played an instrumental role in fostering closer and stronger ties of trade and people-to-people connectivity between the two nations.

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Story by: Chinnavat Samranjai

               Munchuta Suadmalai Olsen

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Picture 1: Hans Niels Andersen, founder of the East Asiatic Company

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Picture 2: In 1884, H.M. Chulalongkorn’s “Thoon Kramom” which Hans Niels Andersen, founder of the East Asiatic Company, was a captain.

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Picture 3: The East Asiatic Company headquarters in Bangkok.

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Picture 4 and 5: East Asiatic Company’s sawmill and its teak wood processing that led the company to develop a rapid and impressive growth in teak export in Asia.

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Picture 6: The Teak Museum in Phrae Province

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Pictures 7 and 8: The East Asiatic Company’s headquarters in 1898 and Asia House, which served as the Royal Thai Honorary Consulate-General until its closure in 2020.

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Pictures 9 and 10: Chulalongkorn Memorial Day was held at the Asia House in 2019, attended by Team Thailand in Copenhagen, Thai community in Denmark and Asia House executives.

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Picture 11: Mr. Carsten Dencker Nielsen, who assumed the roles of the East Asiatic Company’s Managing Director, Honorary Chairman for Asia House and the last Honorary Consul-General of Thailand in Copenhagen.