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Singapore Philatelic Museum Review
In today's ultra connected world, interpersonal communication has entered a whole other stratosphere. Friends send each other text messages, and notices are sent out through e-mails. Good old fashioned snail mail between two people has slowly become less popular, and the letters we may get regularly are our monthly bills and the occasional wedding invitation. However, nestled in the heart of Singapore, is a place that is devoted to keeping the art of letters, stamps and all things postal alive – The Singapore Philatelic Museum. In the past, writing letters was the main mean through which we could communicate with friends and family residing overseas. It was much more affordable as compared to making a phone call with a landline. Also, mobile phones weren't available then. The Internet and e-mail became popular in Singapore around the mid 1990s, and have exponentially grown in popularity. Most Singaporeans nowadays use mobile phones, emails and the Internet to facilitate communication. However, in bigger countries and less developed areas, people still communicate through 'snail mail'. The Singapore Philatelic Museum has been around since 1995 and it serves as the guardian of Singapore's philatelic materials. It also is home to stamps and historical philatelic material from the 1830s up until the present day. These include the world's first stamp as well as other philatelic materials from around the world, which serve as gateways to learn about the history and culture of other countries as well. [caption id=attachment_356 align=aligncenter width=642] Thank you, thank you very much Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] The exhibit that's grabbing headlines this month is “Return to Sender”, an exhibition dedicated to the life and times of the King of Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley. The exhibition includes mementoes of Elvis's life ranging from his childhood, to his musical and acting career. An avid collector has also kindly loaned original vinyl records of some of his biggest hits. [caption id=attachment_355 align=aligncenter width=642] You ain't nothin' but a hound dog Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] There are even personal effects and mementoes of Elvis's as well. An example would be this 1000 dollar bill signed by him. [caption id=attachment_354 align=aligncenter width=642] Money, honey Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] This exhibition provides an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about music history, and indulge in the works of one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. On top of all that, with this being a museum dedicated to philately, this Elvis collection is topped off with special stamps released by different countries in his honour. [caption id=attachment_357 align=aligncenter width=605] Return to Sender Photos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] If all this pop culture is too much for your kids to handle, head on to the Orange Room, where philatelic history is on display. The world's first stamp was The Penny Black. In the Singapore Philatelic Museum, it has been recreated to an interactive wall installation that will tell you the history about that stamp. What a great way for kids to learn! [caption id=attachment_351 align=aligncenter width=490] The Talking Queen Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] In the Orange Room of the museum, your child can learn about postal heritage and history. The Penny Black was the first adhesive stamp used in a public postal system, and is just one of the many historical philatelic materials in this room. Feast your eyes upon the scooter used by postmen in Singapore in the 1980s! [caption id=attachment_350 align=aligncenter width=570] Special delivery! Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] Did you know that stamps can be made of unusual materials besides paper? On display are vinyl record stamps from Bhutan that produce music when spun on a turn-table, stamps infused with fragrances, gold and silver-foiled stamps, glow in the dark stamps and even stamps made from wood! [caption id=attachment_349 align=aligncenter width=366] Hmm, that's odd Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] On the second floor of the museum, yet more philatelic gems are housed in the Room of Rarities. One of the items on display is the first ever locally produced posting box. [caption id=attachment_348 align=aligncenter width=337] The first ever locally produced posting box in Singapore Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] This room also gives plenty of insight into Singapore's past. There are many letters, postcards and stamps on display from the 1800s. Stamps were introduced in Singapore in 1854. Letters that were sent before that were known as Pre-Stamp Covers. These Pre-Stamp Covers had postal marks on them that contained information on the routes that mail ships would take and how long the journey would be. Different coloured postal marks were also used to indicate whether postage was required. [caption id=attachment_347 align=aligncenter width=445] A letter from Singapore to London in 1836 Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] [caption id=attachment_346 align=aligncenter width=489] An early postcard, 1885 Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] However, it’s not just the Straits Settlement era that has representation in this museum. Your children can also learn about Singapore during the Japanese Occupation. [caption id=attachment_345 align=aligncenter width=590] A series of stamps used in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation Photos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] There are also several more grim reminders of our past. [caption id=attachment_344 align=aligncenter width=606] This letter was made out to a British POWPhoto by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] As all of us have learnt one way or another, independence was a monumental occasion for our country. We were separated from Malaysia and set to forge our own path in the world. To commemorate this, Singapore released its own stamps, the very first set of stamps that we could truly call our own. What a fascinating snippet of knowledge for our children to digest. [caption id=attachment_343 align=aligncenter width=611] 1966 - 1st anniversary of independence Photos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] In this room also lie many other testaments that celebrate a milestone in our country's history. There have been stamps released that commemorate our multi-racial and multi-cultural society. Your children can instantaneously identify with such a theme, having had celebrated Racial Harmony Day in school! Stamps are also pictorial documentations of a country’s significant milestones, events, history and heritage. [caption id=attachment_342 align=aligncenter width=597] 1968 – Marks, Dances & Definitives 1969 – Musical Instrument High Value Definitives Photos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] How about a tribute to the soldiers who selflessly serve our nation and keep us safe? [caption id=attachment_341 align=aligncenter width=889] 1987 – 20 Years of National ServicePhoto by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] There is also a nod to Singapore's postal history, with a series of stamps that celebrate the opening of Singapore Post's new headquarters. [caption id=attachment_340 align=aligncenter width=444] 2000 – Postal LandmarksPhotos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] Ongoing right now is also an exhibition about the Year of the Sheep, called “Counting Sheep, Dreaming Goats”. It is a great way for children to learn about how other parts of the world view and picture sheep and goats, and also represent them in stamp form! There are even installations where your little one can feel the animal’s fur! [caption id=attachment_339 align=aligncenter width=466] Baaaaaaaaaa[/caption] There are stamps from other parts of the world that commemorate this wonderful creature as well. [caption id=attachment_338 align=aligncenter width=559] Stamps from Taiwan and China can be seen here. Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] And, the collection is complete with stamps from our own sunny shores, released to commemorate the Year of the Sheep. [caption id=attachment_337 align=aligncenter width=545] 2015 – Zodiac Series- GoatPhotos by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] There are rooms where your child can also soak in the heritage of the different races in Singapore. The “Heritage Room” traces the journeys our forefathers made to these shores, and includes many trinkets unique to them. [caption id=attachment_336 align=aligncenter width=498] Tea time! Photo by: Singapore Philatelic Museum[/caption] The “Spice is Nice” exhibition showcases the spices found in Asian cuisine. It is a great way for kids to learn more about the different races in Singapore through our favourite pastime - food! [caption id=attachment_335 align=aligncenter width=437] Oooh, spicy![/caption] This exhibit is perfectly complemented with displays of all the dishes from the different races in Singapore as well. [caption id=attachment_334 align=aligncenter width=502] What a pity these are only plastic! Delicious![/caption] All in all, the museum is a wonderful place, rich in culture and history that is bound to be informational and fun for children. There are numerous hands-on exhibits with which kids can interact with to learn more about stamps and our own Singaporean culture. The museum may also bring back nostalgic memories for parents, who can fondly remember a time when they still sent letters the old fashioned way through snail mail. Bring you kids down and let them indulge in this blast from the past. They can write their own letters, pick a stamp to go with it and keep it as a memento!