Chinese Wok, c. 1800s

Chinese Wok, c. 1800s

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Many Chinese men travelled to the United States and became gold miners following the discovery of gold in California in 1849. Woks such as this one were made in China, but brought to California in the 1800s and used by Chinese immigrants. As the mass influx of travelers arrived from a variety of regions and economic backgrounds, places such as restaurants, hotels, and inns were built to accommodate and feed the growing California population. Over time, however, the majority of food in California had to be imported and became notoriously expensive. In only a few months, the cost of food tripled. Oftentimes, many miners arrived with only the clothes on their backs. With newcomers lacking many basic supplies, merchants were at a major advantage and would charge outrageously high prices for their goods.
Object Name
Date made
late 19th - early 20th
place made
United States: California
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 17 3/4 in x 20 1/8 in; 45.085 cm x 51.1175 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Chinese American
Food Culture
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ethnic
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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