Monday, February 28, 2011

Vintage Singapore Magazine - The Mirror

I never knew that Singapore used to have a weekly almanac of current affairs. For a young country, this magazine seems to be one of the important magazines that illustrates and showcases our progress to all our citizens. In 1967, we have the first batch of Officers graduating from the Officer Cadet School, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew giving a speech as the Prime Minister and Dr. Goh Keng Swee inspecting the commissioning parade of the first batch of our army officers. This was a very good read and I believe it marked a very significant milestone in our Singapore history. This magazine didn't come cheap, but I felt that it was definitely worth what I have spent!

Singapore Previous 5 Dollars Banknotes

Many people would know about the different varieties of the Singapore Orchid 5 dollar (3 different signatures, 4 varieties), however not many people know about the different variety of the Singapore Ship 5 dollars. In the scan, zooming into the serial number, one can find a distinct difference in the font, size and spacing of the serial number. This is because the notes are printed by different printers, namely Thomas De La Rue and Harrison & Sons Ltd, the latter being the later issue.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vintage 1964 Singapore Sweepstakes

I bought this sweepstake ticket today and its interesting to note that the denomination is actually quite large. $1 back then can easily buy you a few bowls of noodles. I wonder how much was the prize money to entice people to fork out a dollar for this sweepstake ticket. Comparing it to the sweepstakes now (which costs a few dollars), the cost of buying one of these sweepstakes did not increase so much as compared to other things, such as our housing and cars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Malaya & British Borneo "Buffalo" 10 Dollars Banknote

Malaya & British Borneo 10 Dollars Banknote features a buffalo and a farmer and is a recent sough after Malaya note due to its beautiful design. This note has also been used as images on red packets and numerous posters due to its attractiveness and bright colours. The price of this note has been steadily increasing and has even overtook the 1953 Malaya Queen Elizabeth 10 dollars note, though its a 1961 issue.

This note in this post is an Extra Fine note with sharp edges and strong paper. This note is not easily found in this condition nowadays, with many notes being VF and below.


The Malaya and British Borneo dollar (known as the ringgit in Malay, Jawi:رڠڬيت) was the currency of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo and Brunei from 1953 to 1967. The currency was issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo. Prior to 1952, the board was known as the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya.

The Malaya and British Borneo dollar was used in Malaya after independence in 1957, and in Malaysia after its formation in 1963, as wll as in Singapore after its independence in 1965. After 1967, the two countries and Brunei ended the common currency arrangement and began issuing their own currencies. However, the Malaya and British Borneo dollar continued to be legal tender until 16 January 1969.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Singapore Ship Series (3rd Series) 1 Dollar Notes

This post will feature the more recent Ship Series. Contrary to popular belief, not all Dr. Goh Keng Swee's variety of notes fetch a high price. In this case, the ship series 1 dollar, almost all notes are signed by Dr. Goh. The more valuable variety will be the 1 signed by Dr. Richard Hu. This is because for this ship dollar, A/1 till D/14 are signed by Dr. Goh while D/14- D/20 are signed by Dr. Richard Hu. The supply of Dr. Hu's notes is much lesser as compared to Dr. Goh's.

Another interesting point is that the signature crosses over at D/14, thus D/14 notes are more collectible as it is termed the Cross-Over Prefix.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vintage Working Singapore Telecom Biege Rotary Phone

Vintage Working Singapore Telecom Beige Rotary Phone

The rotary dial is a device mounted on or in a telephone or switchboard that is designed to send electrical pulses, known as pulse dialing, corresponding to the number dialed. The early form of the rotary dial used lugs on a finger plate instead of holes. A patent was filed on August 20, 1896 by employees of Almon Strowger, namely, A. E. Keith and the brothers John and Charles Erickson. The Patent No. 597,062 was granted on January 11, 1898.

The modern version of the rotary dial with holes was first introduced in 1904 but only entered service in the Bell System in 1919. The rotary dial was gradually supplanted by Touch Tone dialing, introduced at the 1962 World's Fair, which uses a keypad instead of a dial. Some telephone systems in the US no longer recognize rotary dialing by default, but will only support push-button phones instead, in which case the rotary dialing system would have to be ordered from the telephone company as a special feature, to support older customer equipment. However most actually do accept dial phoning without fail.

Singapore Bird Series $5 Banknote

One of my favourite notes thus far. This note has serial no of 67 (low no) which corresponds to the prefix A/67. This note is special to me as the number 67 is an integral part of my life.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vintage Thermo Flask

I chanced upon this Vintage Thermo Flask at a shop and it was in a very bad shape with oxidised aluminium covered with layers of dirt and grease. This kind of thermo flask was very common back in the 1960s where water was kept at a hot temperature at home instead of using electric kettles. They were often also part of the dowry in traditional Chinese weddings. My mum claims that its known as Diang Gong in Hokkien. I spent an hour cleaning this item up and its ready for display!

Framing of Banknotes

Banknotes can also make a nice display piece when they are framed. They also make nice gifts and conversation starters! This is one of the sets that I have assembled with the Orchid and Bird series banknotes. I also do sell these framed up pieces which can be personalized(your own choice of frame, notes etc). so if anyone is interested, you can contact me at my email!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Set of Uncirculated Singapore Bird Series Notes

This is a set of uncirculated Singapore Bird Series notes which I have assembled. I have a couple of spare sets and they are available for sale as well as exchange with other Singapore banknotes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Consecutive Singapore Orchid Series 5 Dollars - HSS W Seal

4 x Consecutive Singapore Orchid Series 5 Dollars - HSS W Seal

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vintage Boutique Hotel in Phuket

During a trip to Phuket last year, I came across a small boutique hotel quietly hidden behind the bustling streets of Phuket. This boutique hotel decorated its lobby with vintage items, and I felt that it was very well done!

Here are some photos to share!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Malaya Japanese Occupation Banknote (World War 2)

The Japanese Occupation of Singapore was a dark time in our history and one of the most iconic item that relates people to this period was the money used, which was also known as the banana note. This note was printed when the Japanese needed more money which led to hyperinflation.

"The Japanese issued banana money as their main currency since Straits currency became rare. The Japanese instituted elements of a command economy in which there were restrictions on the demand and supply of resources, thus creating a popular black market. The "banana currency" started to suffer from high inflation and dropped drastically in value because the authorities would simply print more whenever they needed more money; consequently the black market often used Straits currency."

Currently, this is one of the cheapest Malaya note that can be collected. I am selling this uncirculated 10 dollars note at 4 dollars each for anyone who is interested to obtain a piece of Singapore history.

A Brief History of the Japanese Occupation

The Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War II occurred between about 1942 and 1945 after the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942. Military forces of the Empire of Japan occupied Singapore after defeating the combined Australian, British, Indian and Malayan garrison in the Battle of Singapore. The occupation was to become a major turning point in the history of several nations, including that of Japan, Britain and the then colonial state of Singapore. Singapore was renamed to Syonan-to (昭南島 Shōnan-tō), which means "Island of the Light of the South" or "Southern Island (obtained) during Shōwa period".

Singapore was officially returned to British colonial rule on 12 September 1945, following the formal signing of the surrender instrument at City Hall.

Monday, February 7, 2011

1959 Malaya & British Borneo 1 Dollar

Lately I have been blogging about vintage items and now I'm back to banknotes! In this post, I will share with everyone the 1959 Malaya & British Borneo 1 Dollar. For many non-collectors, they will not see the difference between the two notes that I have attached below. These 2 notes actually command a different price as they were printed by 2 different printers, namely Waterlow & Sons and Thomas De La Rue which are visible at the front face, middle bottom section of both of the notes. The Waterlow & Sons variety commands a higher price due to the lower supply of the notes.

Malaya and British Borne dollar

The Malaya and British Borneo dollar (known as the ringgit in Malay, Jawi:رڠڬيت) was the currency of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo and Brunei from 1953 to 1967. The currency was issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo. Prior to 1952, the board was known as the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya.

The Malaya and British Borneo dollar was used in Malaya after independence in 1957, and in Malaysia after its formation in 1963, as wll as in Singapore after its independence in 1965. After 1967, the two countries and Brunei ended the common currency arrangement and began issuing their own currencies. However, the Malaya and British Borneo dollar continued to be legal tender until 16 January 1969.

For more reading, click here.

Vintage Olympia Typewriter

Before the days of computers, I recall my parents typing on the typewriter and it had always fascinated me. I have since collected a total of 5 typewriters and they are a big part of my vintage items collection. In this post, I am featuring the Olympia De Lux Typewriter which is made in Germany. Its space bar is a little crooked (I will fix that when I'm free), but it is still amazingly in working condition, and the ribbons still have ink!

The Beginning

Olympia’s story begins in Berlin on August 15, 1903. Here, under the direction of European General Electric (AEG), Dr. Friedrich von Hefner-Alteneck sought to develop a German machine to capitalize on the rising popularity and demand for typewriters. The result was the Mignon, a roller-type typewriter that didn’t fare well, as it was too expensive for many potential customers.

AEG continued to hammer away at the problems, however, finally starting full-scale production of the new, improved Mignon “AA” line in 1912. The first commercially successful Olympia, the Model 3, rolled into the marketplace just under nine years later, and two years after that, in 1923, the company set up shop in Erfurt, Germany.

By 1930, the Olympia brand name had been secured, in honor of the very last Mignon model produced, the Olympia Plurotyp of 1933. The Model 7 and Model 8 machines produced at this time, however, were sold under both the AEG and Olympia names. Later prototypes of the 1930s, including the 8a and 8b models, were simpler and cheaper, and gained popularity in the market--although a few lines, like the Filia and Super, did not last long before being pulled.

Necessary Moves

By 1943, Olympia typewriters were selling quite well, and the company had even created a one-handed version of the Model 8, for disabled users. But all was not well. As World War II raged over the European skies, the Erfurt plant suffered damage. Already reduced to just eleven employees by April of 1945, the factory survived the bombing and capture of the city by Allied forces. However, it was greatly tested by the Soviet takeover later that summer, as the East German government took control of Erfurt and everything in it--including Olympia--renaming the company “Optima”.

Several former employees fled to West Germany, though, and set up shop in 1948 in Wilhelmshaven, where Olympia typewriters continued to be made until production stopped in 1992.

Postwar Heyday

From the late nineteen forties onward, Olympia enjoyed increasing success. First, in 1949, the International Court of Justice at The Hague settled the dispute between East and West Germany over rights to the Olympia brand name. The Wilhelmshaven owners won, and officially changed the name of the company to Olympia Werke.

By 1961, about half of the typewriters in use in Germany were Olympia portables. From the popular Progress, Simplex, and Elite models to the SM2, SM3, and SF Portable--all of which maintained continuous production for sixteen years or more, from the 1950s through the 1970s--Olympia portable typewriters were known for craftsmanship, eye-catching design, and continuous innovation. Although some models never took off as planned (for example, the Orbis, which only lasted one year before being discontinued), features such as individually-spring-loaded keys provided extra comfort and cushioning, bringing in customers despite the high price point of Olympias. (In 1964, an Olympia SM7 cost $142.50--quite a hefty price tag, as this amounts to over $1,000 in today’s currency!) Even as close competitors Remington and Underwood were bought out by other companies, Olympia continued to thrive, opening new manufacturing facilities in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and Chile, just to name a few countries.

It was during this time that Olympia produced some of its most popular models, including the SM5, which came in mod colors like caramel, mint aquamarine, and pink, and offered a script-typing option. Olympia typewriters even began to turn up in Hollywood, as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 thriller Marnie features Tippi Hedren as a crazed secretary, typing away and having neurotic episodes behind an Olympia SG3!

Changing Times

By the 1970s, Olympia--like most other business machine suppliers--was well aware of the threat computers presented to typewriters. Eventually, the company would branch out into calculators and computers, but before doing so, it tried many different innovations and improvements to the existing product. In 1970, Olympia introduced the SGE 50M Excellence, an electric typewriter that used proportional spacing, much like the computers of today. The firm also experimented with Dvorak keyboards, which placed the most commonly-used letters in the English alphabet more conveniently and comfortably than the standard QWERTY format. And, in 1984, even as computers took over the business world, the company kept pushing the envelope; it debuted its Olympia 1011, an important improvement over the traditional Chinese-language typewriter. Instead of the individual keys for over 2,500 characters conventionally used, the 1011 featured electrically-controlled inkjets that specially formed each character without time-consuming adjustments.

However, none of these models lasted long. The SGE 50M was only in production for three years, from 1970 until 1972, and the Dvorak machines were too expensive, costing over $300 more than a regular QWERTY typewriter.

Modern-Day Olympians

In the end, Olympia folded. Production ended in 1992, after every attempt to save the company. But Olympia typewriters are still around, often in great condition and highly prized by their owners.

Today, Olympias are especially cherished by professional wordsmiths, including Paul Auster, author of The Invention of Solitude and Man in the Dark: A Novel, among other books. His 2002 art book--The Story of My Typewriter, with painter Sam Messer--is a tribute to his SM9 manual Olympia.

Read the full article here.