Braga Chevrolet

Posted December 11, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Heritage, History, Uncategorized

clip_image002 Continuing the saga of Dutch East Indies Auto Market Heritage from one of site on old Bandoeng we could see what looked like a fancy Car Dealership at the turn of the century; at the background is the typical high ceiling with equally large and high windows, I bet it has also Air Vent Inlets as in our Saskava House. The old picture also shows subcompact of the era and alongside a motorbike with very elegant and rare Canoelet sidecar.

There was no record or data from our sources as what brand these two vehicles were. But judging by sketchy photo the shape might indicate a 1927/6 Brittish Sunbeam 16.9 Tourer clip_image004 or 1934 Morris 10/4 Tourer

Sunbeam used to make both motorcycles (BSA) and cars from the late 19th century to circa 1936. The picture I believe could not show either 1927 Oldsmobile 30E Tourer or 1926 Chevrolet Series V Superior or Packard Twin-Six Touring 1916 or Ford of the era, hence assuming my observation is correct the conclusive vehicles were both Sunbeam.


I have yet to find a reliable source on neither Dutch East Indies Auto market nor what did Braga Chevrolet showroom able to sell, but for now there is a good record on sales figures of Ford Canada. Dodge & Seymour, an American trading intermediary based in New York handled the sales of Canadian Ford models for Asia and Australia regions including Dutch East Indies.

In March 1924, Dodge & Seymour established a Singapore office. Their sales summary demonstrated the high purchasing power in Malaya; Singapore (representative of Malaya) commanded an average of 20 percent of sales (or 21.2 percent including Penang and Port Swettenham) despite the low-density population, compared with 25 percent in Dutch East Indies.

The Ford supply for Dutch East Indies was imported in semi-knocked down conditions (henceforth SKD to reduce freight charges) and assembled in Malaya’s plant from 1930. These SKD automobiles came from its parent companies, Ford Canada, and Ford England in Dagenham which was likely re-exported to Dutch East Indies.

In early 1920s, there were 60 different Car Makers on the Malayan market reflecting what was perhaps also available at Dutch East Indies, 20 representing European-made Cars (predominantly British). These included high-priced cars such as Sunbeam, Vauxhall, Wolseley, Daimler, Benz, and Crossely. There were also medium-priced cars; among others: Austin, Morris, Armstrong Siddeley, the Italian Fiat, and Bianchi, the French Citroen, Peugeot, and Alfa Romeo, including the German Opel.

clip_image008By 1930 Malaya’s total registration was approximately 165, 000 cars compared with Dutch East Indies (DEI) 85,000 where the ratio of cars to people was 1:584. The Auto Market for the region had represented roughly beyond $ 85 Millions assuming average unit price at $ 1,000 per car.

The 1926 Chevrolet Series V Superior models in US had pricing range of $510-$765 where as the Landau sedan was the top model at the end of the scale, landed price in Kuala Lumpur was S$ 1,500 where as the Sunbeam being a premium car back then was S$ 5,650. Consequently the landing price in Dutch East Indies was a bit dearer, that said the year 1925 was the top Ford sales at 3,839 units, thanks to the booming tea, rubber, coffee, sugar and other exotic commodities. Thanks to the fertile soil of Java!

References & footnote:


  • Shakila Yacob // Beyond Borders: Ford in Malaya, 1926-1957
  • Pricewise in Britain by the year of 1914, Ford as compared to other British automobile manufacturers, was able to produce motor vehicles at an unbeatable price range of between £125 to £135. David G. Rhys, The Motor Industry: An Economic Survey (London, 1972), 5.
  • Comparison between Ford 4/5 seater that were sold at S$1,650 (non self starter) and S$1,900 (self starter) with an 8 HP Rover landed in Singapore would cost S$2,200 in 1920-1921. H.C.O. 259/22. British Representative, State Secretary to Winston Churchill, Colonial Office, 29 March 1922
  • Doge & Seymour Exports Shipments, Ford Canada.
  • There was lenient import duty amongst British Empire Region (commonwealth)

Despite of our 1945 independence, we did not get our International sovereignty until late 1949, by then the Braga chevy should had been ceased, yet the brand continued on with the famous Bel Air, Impala and lastly Chevrolet Suburban as the only shuttle services between Jakarta-Bandoeng in 1970s.

Dutch East Indies Auto Market Heritage

Posted November 27, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Heritage, Uncategorized

Earlier at Braga Heritage I did mention several 1920s Car Dealerships within the area and the record shows amongst other; Chevrolet, Renault and Chrysler. Surely there were others as well particularly the right hand drive British Car Maker, the then world brand Ford and even the popular steam engined of earlier period right at the turn of century.


Left car: Serpollet, a French steamcar and on the right Derracq, another French but with petrol engine. Both were documented as early as 1903 at Panoembangan, West Java tea plantation during it seemed a convoy by none other than the then tea planter tycoon Adriaan,R.W. Kerkhoven on the Serpollet who was incidentally the nephew of KAR Bosscha. There is also a similar 1903 Gardner-Serpollet on display at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The early 20th century motor car was very close to horse cart wagon appearance as it was simply designed upon it but instead of being pulled by horses it was fitted with engine upfront, and as for steam boiler was located beneath the seating. It did not need any Air Vent Inlet gadget as there was no window opening, ventilation was relied on natural air conditioning. No harm done on environment!


Gardner-Serpollet was a French manufacturer of steam-powered cars in the early 1900s. In 1896, Leon Serpollet invented and perfected the flash boiler, which made steam a much more practical source of power for an automobile. The oil-fired flash boiler fed steam to a very advanced four-cylinder enclosed engine similar to the contemporary petrol engine design including poppet valves and an enclosed crankcase.


Serpollet produced his own automobiles under the name Serpollet and Gardner-Serpollet until his death in 1907. The internal combustion engine was not at its advanced stage as yet, so steam car was once indeed popular. The steam car is now naturally a heritage vehicle; it was the onset of Thermodynamic Principles inventions.

On August 25, 2009, Team Inspiration of the British Steam Car Challenge broke the long-standing record for a steam vehicle set by a Stanley Steamer in 1906, setting a new speed record of 139.843mph in the Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave Desert of California. The famous comedian Jay Leno has one such speed demon steamer as one of his collection.


The car was driven by Charles Burnett III. FIA land speed records are based on an average of two runs (called ‘passes’) in opposite directions, taken within an hour of each other – in this case the maximum speeds reached were 136.103mph on the first run and 151.085mph on the second. .

Dutch East Indies Auto Market Heritage..continues..

Braga Heritage

Posted October 30, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Heritage, History

Ever since Bandoeng has been developed as a resort city the Braga street was already an attractive commercial center, some priceless photos since 1907 shows significant chronology developments. These photos has been meticulously collected through out dozen possibly hundreds of sent postcards to many European cities by Priambodo Prayitno. This gentlement has even quoted to hunt the sent postcards to as far as Germany and every photo is presented with background story.


Each background story tells us unique heritage piece of history on building particularly as well as a glimpse of surroundings living memory, then Priambodo goes adding the existing photo of today time. The glimpse even shows trendy things in the era such as that relevant to our topics on Air Vent Inlets typically used on 1920s buildings. Those who know the area either today or in the past will eventually suffer a sort of time warp experiences; very interesting!

For example judging by the parking cars parade above it tells you immediately from the 1930s era; look how pristine those heritage 1910 Fords. Visible on photo is the then bakery shop but make no mistake there were Chrysler and Renault car showrooms in the area as well indicating that Braga St in early 1900s had transformed from muddy street for buffalo carts into well known window shopping area for world wide brands. Incidentally the photo above is the collection of Adityawarman Thaib.

Braga St lays further South to the so called “Old European District”, a jargon which has been coined by an anonymous Dutch Indies expert and dully used through out my heritage articles, and it is no wonder that even today thousands of Jakartans Flock to Braga Street side Promenade regularly

Sources: the courtesy of..

Braga 1907 by Priambodo

Braga 1935 by Priambodo

Braga 1935 parking cars parade by Adityawarman


Another large Department Store J.R. de Vries & Co located at Groote Postweg next to Braga (now Asia Afrika St.) provided the European at the time from household goods, shoe repair service, butcher shop to even Chevrolet cars. De Vries was in operation from 1895 right up to the demise of De Vries senior in mid 1925s and perhaps well beyond 1930s by his family; actually it did not resemblance to Department Store entity but rather it is believed as a Shopping Mall, it might had been the first upper class Mall at the time.

Today we just learnt that the brand Chevrolet has in fact survived GM downsizing axe, unlike another of its brand the Pontiac was eliminated. Both brands are old enough to carry heritage “legacy”, where as Chevrolet is just recently revived its sport coupe division that known as the Fifth Generation Camaro. Other automakers which showrooms were mentioned above is remain to be seen for Chrysler, but not for Renault though. Time Warp….. Braga Heritage and Automaker Heritage!

Bosscha Observatory

Posted September 15, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Building Preservation, Guide, History

clip_image002 clip_image004

A properly functioning observatory should be situated well outside densely populated residential areas, preferably within a conservation park in a remote area. There should be no population at all within the radius of 50 km. This was the case for Bosscha Observatory in early 1920s, it was chosen due to its ideally minimum cold and hot air exchanging fronts. Lembang did provide fewer disturbances; in the past it provides natural turbulence occurrences of merely within a quarter of hour. Other observatories have been observed to suffer the occurrences beyond an hour.

Nowadays the neighboring residential areas of Bosscha also pose interference, as the artificial surrounding lights impede the natural lights emitted by the stars above there sufficiently to be seen through Bosscha lenses. In early 70s an astronomer could easily stumbled upon thousands of stars through the lenses on one observation; today it is merely 50 at most. A clear observation requires surrounding night sky to be completely dark black, yet in the last 3 decades there has been too much artificial lights and air born debris pollutants.

There is a slim chance for astronomer to find a new cluster of galaxy or even stars on Bosscha facilities today. In fact Bosscha would be deemed suitable as a museum fairly soon rather than properly functioning observatory, a property developer is eyeing the area for a new property development.

Thanks to the tea plantation owner philanthropist the Lembang observatory was constructed in 1923, the place has had named after him; Bosscha. It was the oldest in Indonesia and was the biggest in Southern Hemisphere then, it did provide window opportunity for observation purposes near the equatorial belt. Thailand is rumored to built a new observatory equipped with about half telescope size at the cost of Rp. 100 Billions or equivalent to US $. 10 Millions.

Bosscha Observatory was deemed as our heritage treasure in 1992. Should our town planning had been implemented strictly this heritage treasure could have been properly functioning as well…..

Today Bosscha Observatory is managed for the purpose of academic scientific research under Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences ITB. The Facility received real time solar telescope in 2007; enabling climate abnormality observation and solar activities as a whole.

Bosscha Observatory opens for public from April to September from 17:00 to 20:00 as follows:
* Thursday through Saturday; 6-7-8 April
* Tuesday through Thursday; 9-10-11 Mei
* Tuesday through Thursday; 6-7-8 Juni
* Tuesday through Thursday; 4-5-6 Juli
* Thursday through Saturday; 3-4-5 Agustus
* Tuesday through Thursday; 5-6-7 September

Visitation request application

Moon eclipse

Sources : wiki and ristek

Frontrunner Science Research #3; Bosscha Observatory

Posted September 1, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Guide, History

Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha was one of ordinary European immigrant when he arrived in Java island. Like many of his counterpart he had a dream to start his own venture

As early as 1870 the so called forced cultivation (Cultuurstelsel, the colonial system of forced farming) was abolished. The Agrarian Law (Land Act) of 1870, which replaced the oppressive, government-run Plantation System with free enterprise and private ownership, encouraged a massive influx of immigrants from Europe who were eager to take advantage of the new economic opportunities in the profitable colony (Gill,1998).

Bosscha arrived in Dutch Indies in 1887, he further shoehorned his administrative skills by working at various industry sectors until 1894. Graduated from Polytechnic School in Delft he had a stint of working experiences from Gold mining in Sambas (Kalimantan, formerly Borneo) to the inception of a new telecommunication company; “Preanger Phone” in 1895. He began the new venture of tea cultivation as early as 1896.

The tea cultivation was not known in the area except those in China, where the British was able to sneak through the impenetrable and closely guarded tea cultivation secret. Tea was then supposedly for King consummate only. To make it short by this period the British had already successfully cultivated tea on the Himalayan areas. Through his associates funding resources Bosscha had in his possession the concession to cultivate Pengalengan plateau; as he was confident that the place could provide ideal condition as good as the foot hill of Himalayan.

In spite of it’s highly risks venture he went forward developing tea cultivation research suitable for the area. Tea plantation know how was not widely available then (particularly large scale production technology), he started the whole development from merely a scratch. Yet within ten years development of NV Assam Tea Company he could provide his investor an 80% dividend yields on top of the whole investment return.

Over the years, the area always increased of up to 1000 ha. at one time. And the quality of Malabar tea the brand it was introduced to the market continued to improve. SA ‘Malabar’ was in many respects a model for the Dutch East Indies tea culture, especially because Bosscha never failed utilizing the latest scientific technical inventions in the field of soil mining preparation, exploitation, test planting and empirical applications.

He even further designed and constructed the first Hydro Power Generation off the Tjilaki River. The power station was the first kind ever (and the oldest) to supply electricity to his Malabar tea factory as well as for Bandung city. Today his power station is still running. He was also the co-founder and Commissioner of many other plantation enterprises, such as the tea companies of Wanasoeka, Taloen, Sitiardja, Radja Mandala, Ardjoena, Papandajan, Sindangwangi and Boekit Lawang.

Bosscha had also involved in the inception many other ventures branching out of his tea and power generation line of business including amongst other ; Automobile importing dealership, Rubber plantation, Insurance and many more. By this time then he was established himself as a conglomerate tycoon as well as philantropist. He donated thousands of Dollars worth to Bandung’s own; University (ITB 1920), Cancer Center (1924) and our next interest the Lembang Observatory (1923).

The observatory is named after the tea plantation tycoon; Bosscha. The facility had provided and contributed a lot of scientific research in Astronomy field, from the most Southern part of hemisphere (the first kind ever and the oldest, then!). For his merits he was in 1921 awarded the ereburgerschap of Bandoeng. Although Bosscha had no great interest in politics, he was still many years a member of the Regional Council of the Preanger-Regent shelves and in 1918 elected the first Dutchman in the People’s Council, where he sat for three years.

clip_image002Officially he remained unmarried to his death due to the interracial marriage regulation of the time; which restricted him to marry his local lady lover. Though Bosscha had almost passed away for 81 years; we could still admire his fruitful invention today as one of Dutch Indies Traits Heritage.

Source : wiki & Institute for Dutch History (ING)

Science Research Frontrunner #2

Posted August 18, 2009 by saskava
Categories: History, Uncategorized

Another famous botanist was the Dutch J Teijsmann for stimulating the introduction of the cassava (from the island of Batam, near Sumatra) as a food source to alleviate prevalent famines in the then Dutch Indies. Cassava represents one of many food sources which is easily cultivated without the need of much water as paddies field and most importantly does not impair the glass house effect as much as well.

Later on in the mid 1900s when rice was taken away by the Japanese Imperial Army, the food became scarce; it was cassava the most available substitute. Its product derivative also provides raw material for many Industry sectors. Nowadays the Southern part of Sumatra produces the most and it was this commodity over which the well known Bakri empire conglomerate was developed from.

His personal interest in palm trees led him to introduce to Indonesia the oil palm (from West Africa) which is until the present highly important to much economy of Indonesia today, in mid 1900s Palm oil was the biggest exporting commodities in the world. The genus Johannesteijsmannia is named in his honour, together with several plant species.

There is no doubt that science technology has shaped and driven much of the development of large scale industrialization, whether such industry rely on heavy portion of technology input or those which involve lots of human resources such as the case in Agro-industry. The Agro-industry was in its infancy period when the Dutch Indies Government allows large influx of European immigrants to spur the major industrial privatizations back in early 1900s.

Argumentatively the Dutch colonialism had brought about much lingering sufferings to us the indigenous people of Indonesia. Thousands had died and perished during forced cultivation in 1800s; the indigenous were forced as slaves to cultivate those high value commodities for the Dutch to be exported worldwide. And thousands more on other imperialism means including the construction of the great main post road connecting Java Island along the coast for “Defence” purposes.

Yet since our independence through the cost of millions of souls right after Japanese Imperial’s WW II lost, we had assumed much of intangible as well as tangible assets to our own. These include the main topic of this blog the heritage of Bandung city. Ranging from the infrastructure of Bandung, old Dutch buildings and its 1920’s building architecture style: in particular which brought about our own Saskava House. The old Dutch building with its unique Dutch Indies traits.

In its hey day the clip_image0021920s marked the era of significant growth of Bandung city development as well as the center for many agro- industry sectors including tea, coffee, rubber and cinchona (natural resources for Malaria Pills) plantations. It all stemmed out of our natural richness and the beauty of Bandung’s own natural attractions. Our soil was and might be still the most easily cultivating soil for agricultural purposes. Volcano activities have blessed the soil in its own way, literary anything thrown upon the soil it will grow!

Had it not been for the soil the Dutch would have never been attracted to come at all; they had developed most plantation of clove, rubber, tea etc. Science Research Frontrunner #2 to be continued…

Source : wiki

Science Research Frontrunner

Posted August 4, 2009 by saskava
Categories: Guide, History

The Dutch was once considered as the most advanced nation in the field of science. Amidst the burgeoning industrial sectors the Dutch had a vast empire amongst other; Suriname, South Africa and most importantly Indonesia. Indonesia was Dutch colony for three hundred and fifty years under differing ruling characters; under Dutch East India Company (VOC) prior to 1800 and then under the Dutch government onward. It was not until the early 19th century for the indigenous to be allowed into formal education as well as rigorous privatization which catapult the Dutch at the height of science frontier.

The Indonesian natural richness opened a truly vast opportunities for new science explorations. The major science fields were amongst other; Geology, Botanical, Volcano- logy and advanced agro industry. The influx of European immigrants and indigenous formal education provided the pouring of foreign investment as well as human resources trickling down significant revenues to the Dutch Indies Government’s coffer.

Dr. FW.Juhnghun

One of the famous botanists was none other than a German descendant Dr. FW.Juhnghun. Juhnghun documented two species of Cyathea junghuhniana and Nepenthes junghuhnii which subsequently were named after him. His scientific works covered Topographic and Scientific Journeys in Java in 1845 and Die Bättalander auf Sumatra (“Batak lands of Sumatra“) in 1847. And the controversial a four volume treatise, Java, seine Gestalt, Pflanzendecke, und sein innerer Bau (Images of Light and Shadow from Java’s interior) released anonymously between 1850 and 1854 ; advocating socialism in the colonies and fiercely criticizing Christian and Islamic proselytization of the Javanese people.

Dr. FW.Juhnghun was highly interested in botany and its practical applications, he (together with J.E. de Vrij of Bandung) became embroiled in a bitter and extended controversy with Johannes Teijsmann, hortulanus of ‘s Lands Plantentuin at Buitenzorg (now Bogor) and J.C. Hasskarl about the effectiveness of Cinchona species in the treatment of malaria (1855).

Most Indonesian is now aware of their collaborative fruitful works to alleviate malaria diseases, despite the bitter controversy of J Teijsmann and J.C. Hasskarl with J.E. de Vrij and FW Junghuhn about the relative merits of the various species of Cinchona (C. calisaya versus C. pahudiana).

clip_image002Presumably it was also his quest of botanical exploration within Mount Patuha that he involved the discovery of Kawah Putih or White Crater Lake in 1856. Hypothetically the Dutch then mined its sulphur-rich sediments for Sulphur production which contributed 90% of all Dutch Indies till the Japanese invasion. The Zwavel Ontgining Kawah Putih might well be the oldest Sulphur factory! Though there is none of old Dutch building left insitu, much alone old lock and shutter devices such as those in our Saskava House.

Sulfuric acid has many applications, and is one of the top products of the chemical industry. Principal uses include lead-acid batteries for cars and other vehicles, ore processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, and chemical synthesis as well as ammunition raw material. Science Research Frontrunner to be continued….for further Kawah Putih detailed impression of its heritage beauty; read our Ciwidey Volcano Trip.


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