Sunday, April 18, 2010

See the World 85 years ago (part 1) – Peter Chan

Today travel to foreign countries is so easy and made even cheaper by the introduction of budget airlines. With the Internet we can even see foreign countries through pictures. Nearly 90 years ago, my grandfather also saw the world but he did it very differently, not like the way I envisaged. He did not join the merchant navy and jump-ship. I was very amazed at the way how he did it. He did something unique in the age of steamships, tongkangs and pig-tails.

I am still putting the pieces together on how he managed and balanced leisure against a career given that he was the sole breadwinner and supporting a family of 12. From bits of references here and there, I gathered he loved to collect stamps, envelopes, postcards, coins, newspaper clippings and smoking pipes. But he was never a sportsman.

As I unraveled more intimate details of my grandfather, I shall start with his collection of postcards of Singapore’s commercial center. This part of Singapore was where he began his career at the age of 17 in 1918. So presumably this part of Singapore must have interested him similar to what caught my interest as a child in the early 60s.

Do you recognize anything from the postcards?

Photo 1: Battery Road. Whiteway is now Maybank Building. The building on the left is now HSBC Building (circa 1933)

Photo 2: Raffles Place. The 3 storey building in the center of the photo was the British bank, the Mercantile Bank between D’Almeida Street and D’Souza Street. Robinson’s was on the right. The car park is now Raffles MRT Station (circa 1933).

Photo 3: Singapore River where Chinese business blended with colonial interests (circa 1925).


Victor said...

Nice postcards, Peter. I notice that all the postage stamps and postmarks were on the photo side of the postcards. Was this the normal practice in the early 1900s? Of course, we know that eventually they moved to the back which is a better place because they don't mar the photos.

Unk Dicko said...

Good Postcards Peter and more valuable with the stamped mark.
Did your grandpa send these to himself for collector's purpose?
Many of us use to send 1st Day covers to ourselves but this may be different, right?

Edward said...

Peter, I remember the stamps very well. In the 1950’s my dad had a suitcase where he kept his business letters. My brother and I removed most of the stamps (soaked in water and dried) and placed them in albums. Unfortunately all our stamp albums were stolen about 3 decades ago. Anyway we were told that the Straits Settlement stamps were quite valuable (even in the 60’s) – especially those with a “Nippon” stamped mark. Apparently not many stamps like these survived the Japanese occupation.

Anonymous said...

Great collection Peter! Wonderful to see the "living" old postcards bringing the scenes from the beautiful days when the river and the surrounding areas were very much the commercial hub of Singapore :).

Karen Tse said...

Hi Lam,

It's interesting to come across your site from the internet. Actually, I'm searching the lyrics of "Time of your Life" from the internet. It is one of my favourite songs.

It's interesting that you introduce Singapore and its development via the blog site. I like your blog. Keep up with the work.

Cheers & Take care from Karen

Avinash Sawant said...

Amazinbg post cards. Great to see such wonderful post cards. thanks for it.

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felixawilliam said...

It is truly very old collection that you have stored for new generation people. That’s unusual for postcodes in Singapore, to have a decimal point in between. I came across postcards from Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Fiji, Australia, Belgium, Turkey, etc and no postal agent was used.
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