Oct 27, 2010

Thank You for the Stamp Book - Singapore Stamps: Anniversaries & Milestones

I decided to put off writing this until I could produce something more exciting than …. words.

Two Saturdays ago, I attended an oldies gathering at a food court. Now, if you read what yg and thimbuktu blogged about the session, it was supposed to be a soft launch for Dr Tan Wee Kiat’s new stamp book at SingPost Paya Lebar HQ. Confused? Well, turned out none of the attendees were below 50 (I was the youngest), the venue for the launch was the food court and the soft launch was actually a "soft launch" – a meeting to present autographed copies with "soft drinks" going around. That’s really funny, Dr Tan! Except that we did not order soft drinks – I had teh peng, a treat from yg and others drank mostly coffee or tea.

That was also my first time meeting thimbuktu and yg – one has no hair and one has combed black hair. You wouldn’t believe it, if you have not read their blogs, that they were already senior citizens more than 5 years ago. Looks like blogging shaving and dyeing can help keep us young. I was amused to discover Thimbuktu’s head is really as shiny as an egg, as advertised in his blog.

The theme of Dr Tan’s latest stamp book is Anniversaries and Milestones. From the introduction (emphasis from me):

Every stamp has a story but … not every story has a stamp. The major portion of this book contains brief stories describing the anniversaries and milestones of important institutions and events. All of these stories, except one, have stamps featuring the particular institution or event.

So what is the one story not featured on any Singapore stamp? I leave you to guess or read the book.

As Dr Tan repeatedly stressed, his publishing of stamp books is not to earn money or become famous. Neither is he a philatelist (he claims to keep stamps in shoe boxes .... what, no proper albums?!) Thus his books are not strictly works on philately. His objective is pedagogical; he hopes to use stamps as a means to teach the audience. While his target readers are older children, I feel the book is still relevant and interesting for older readers. As I flip the book now, I chance upon two stamps issued in 1977 on the POSB Centenary. Readers are treated to a good dose of history and nostalgia:

The Post Office Savings Bank was started by the British colonial government in 1877. The Savings Bank was part of the postal services and operated through the post offices. Older Singaporeans may remember that in 1968-69 the School Savings Campaign was implemented to encourage students to be thrifty and use their savings to buy stamps …. After more than 100 years the Post Office Savings Bank is still part of Singapore life but not associated with the post office. It is now part of the Development Bank of Singapore.

If you like Dr Tan's latest book, you may want to contact him via email as the authors (book was co-authored with yg and Ivan) do not have the intention to sell it to the general public. If you cannot wait, I think you can buy it at Singapore Philatelic Museum for $8.80 a copy. If you cannot wait and are cheapskate, then settle for some of Dr Tan's previous stamps books which are just as interesting and which you can read for free at ReTRIeVIA.

Children's books co-authored by Dr Tan

Dr Tan also shared with me some of the stamps in his previous books that have historical significance and which may turn out to be good second shot opportunities. He suggested I may want to take up projects related to those stamps. I have to say the stamps he showed me were "pretty challenging".

Perhaps unknown to him, I had already set my sight on a possible second shot from a stamp in his book, the moment I laid my hands on it during the soft launch. I thought it would be my humble tribute to his stamp book, if I could produce the second shot before I blog about the soft launch which was a little overdue. Can you guess the stamp that got me all fired up and excited?

This is the stamp:

1985 Aug Stamp
Stamp issued 1985 Aug. From the book: In the years after 1969 the HDB continued its momentum of providing housing. Many people were re-settled from the rural areas to high-rise apartments with modern facilities. This change is depicted in the 1985 stamp, "Our Homes - 25 Years and Beyond" which contrasted the two housing situations.

* I had my suspicions the first time I saw the stamp because the hill ridge looks familiar. It should be somewhere in Jurong East or Bukit Batok. After checking the street directory and Google, I went for a site reccee. We were still in the haze so I didn't see the hill but I knew I found the place from the position of the HDB blocks!

Blk 177 Bukit Batok West Ave 8
Not quite a second shot because the perfect shot can only be taken from somebody's flat and I was too shy to approach them (maybe next time), so I had to settle for this shot taken from another block. I went back a second time after my "hazy trip" to take this shot and also to confirm the hill is really behind those housing blocks.

Bukit Batok Map and Stamp
I believe the perfect shot can be taken from the corner of the tall block 171 which means the scenery from that unit must be really good. My imperfect second shot was taken from Blk 177, a much lower block. Dotted arrows show left and right limit of view in the stamp. Note the development of the new town since 1985. The four HDB point blocks shown in the stamp are (from left): 117, 115, 111 and 110. Between 111 and 110 there is a new building - The Jade. The empty land after Blk 183 is now built up. (Source: OneMap)


WK said...

Hi! Second Shot,
That's another admirable piece of
detective work.

I wonder whether any of the HDB
documents (eg, Annual Reports, photos displayed at the HDB Hub)
might have this actual picture as
shown in the stamp. If so, that
would be a kind of confirmation
of your detective work.
tan wee kiat.

yg said...

icemoon, you are fantastic! from the image on a stamp, you are able to identify the exact location of where the picture was taken. and you don't even live in bukit batok!
i know this area because i frequent the food court at block 155a which is along bukit batok avenue 8.

Lam Chun See said...

You are amazing indeed. I stared long and hard to try and figure at least the estate before I checked your answer. I suspected it was Choa Chu Kang or Bt Batok. But I am more familiar with BB east.

Now can you pls help us figure out what is the Chinese temple at my blog and do a second shot perhaps.

Adelin said...

wah, this is good leh. But, I thought you are thick skinned enough to get what u want? LOL

Icemoon said...

Thanks guy. I'm curious over the view from the top of the point block. Is the view really that good .. the high-rise in foreground flushed with the hill?