05 August 2013

Old Bottle Caps Of Singapore

One of my blog readers from Italy by the name of Massimo is a collector of old bottle caps. He has commented on my post Framroz's Aerated Waters as follows:
"I've just bought this cap
and you can find other bottle caps from Singapore in my site at the page (here). If you want to use any photos you are free to do it.
 Can you tell me something about the caps with the pearl and the one with the sea-horse?"
This is a challenge which I cannot take up. Not knowing the answers to Massimo's challenging questions myself, I emailed my heritage blogger friends, hoping that someone would know.

YG, who blogs here, said:

Could the 'Seahorse' bottle cap be for some Chinese cooling water sold at medical halls? No idea about the 'Pearl' cap.....don't know how to read the Chinese characters.


Massimo followed up on the matter by sending me an email:
"Hello Victor,

I’ve found very interesting the news about Framroz in your blog and it’s been amazing to see the Eastern Aerated Water building. Its cap is one that I specially like in my collection.

Thank for forwarding my question in your blog to your heritage friends. Now I better explain my request. I would like to know if the caps that I display in my Singapore page are all really from there, as well as the ones that are in Malaysia and Hong Kong.

I’m mainly interested in these caps:
What is written on it? The upper side should be something like Pearl Ring, but the rest?

Do you know this kind of drink?

Snowman. The text should say Snowman Aerated Water, but where was used?

Anyway, any other info about the Asian caps in my site will be welcome.

Greetings from Italy

Hi Massimo, thank you for your compliments about my blog post on Framroz. You can find more articles on soft drinks in my blog by clicking on the following links:

1. Ice Ball Man (2) dated 9 Jun 07;

2. Old Singapore Quiz (2) dated 22 Sep 08; and

3. Phoenix Aerated Waters dated 26 Oct 09.

Regarding your questions, looks like my blogger friends have not been able help much thus far. So I hope you don't mind that I am inviting comments from my blog readers via this post. I can answer one of your questions about the Chinese characters on the Pearl cap though. Yes, the characters on the top, read the traditional way from right to left mean "Pearl Ring". Those at the bottom simply mean "Registered Trademark" and hence I am afraid that they do not say much about the product in the bottle.

One more comment that I would like to make is that Singapore and Malaysia are geographically very close to each other. Hence, they share many of the brands of bottled products, especially when Singapore was part of Malaysia before 1963. Therefore, many of the bottle caps classified as belonging to Malaysia in your website were also found in Singapore at that time, namely RC, Sinalco, Coca Cola, Fanta, Mirinda, F&N Sarsi and Green Spot. And I would certainly not be surprised if the converse turns out to be also true.

Readers, if you can throw more light on Massimo's questions, please leave a comment here.

05 November 2012

Old Singapore Quiz (25) - Old Road in 1930s - Answers

24-year-old n.i.C first got the answer to the main question Q1 correct. Pastimes got 3 out of 4 answers correct (for Q1 to Q3). FL who put in a last-minute entry concurred with Pastimes. FL also remembered an air-conditioned cafe which he believed was called Les Bistro located near the piano shop. He had visited this cafe with his NS friends in the early 1970s.

Q1. What is the name of the road in the photo?
Ans: Orchard Road. (This is the end of the road which is near the Cathay Building.)

Q2. What is name of the building shown on the left side of the photo?
Ans: Amber Mansions.

Q3. From 1930s - 1970s, what goods was sold in the 2-storey building which is partially shown near the right edge of the photo?
Ans: Pianos.

Q4. What is the name of the road (where the premises of Peter's father was located) that runs to the right of the photo?
Ans: Dhoby Ghaut. (This road name is no longer in existence today but there is an MRT station with this name.)

More Information / Further Reading:

Comparing the old photo (top) with one that is taken recently (bottom), one realises the extent of transformation this area of Orchard Road has undergone in the last few decades. Only 3 or 4 buildings on the right of the old photo still remain today.

1963 street map of the area (top). The red arrow shows the direction in which the old photo was taken. Compare it with a 2007 street map of the area (bottom).

1. Similar photo circa 1928 taken from the book "Singapore - 500 Early Postcards".

The book was published by Editions Didier Millet in 2006 and was written by Cheah Jin Seng. The photo in the postcard provided the answers to Q2 and Q3.

2. Amber Mansions was built between 1922 and 1928 by renowned colonial architectural firm Swan & Maclaren and was one of Singapore's first shopping centres. Owned by Joseph Elias, a prominent Jewish businessman, it was demolished in 1984 to make way for the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station.

2a. My blogger friend Andy's post about his 1960s experience in performing at tea dances with the Silver Strings in the Celestial Room located on one of the upper floors of Amber Mansions.

2b. Daisy Flower Shop in Amber Mansions. Straits Times advertisement dated 3 Aug 1934 taken from National Library's newspaper archive. Note that Amber Mansions' address was 15 Orchard Road and the telephone number had only 4 digits then. (The SMA House, where Morris Motor Vehicle shop was located in the olden days and where MDIS is now, has the address of 14 Orchard Road.)

2c. National Library's article about Amber Mansions in its picture archive.

2d. Infopedia's article on Amber Mansions.

3. Photos from the National Archives showing Keller Piano Co Pte Ltd. The company, founded by the late Chiu Seck Joo in 1944, occupied the 2-storey building till the 1980s. Besides pianos, the company also sold other music instruments, music scores and records. (The company is now operating at 176 Orchard Road #04-01 Centrepoint, Singapore 238843.)

4. Aerial photo from the National Archives showing the same row of shophouses in the 2nd street level photo in Para 3 above.

Two of shophouses (circled red), at 2 to 4 Orchard Road, are likely to have been occupied by Radio Service Malaya Co where Peter Howard's father James Howard worked as a electrical/radio engineer in the 1930s.

James sailed from England for Singapore in 1934. Peter believed that his father worked for the British Government. During the years leading to World War I, his work involved checking the houses of people under suspicion by the British to see if their premises had transmitters capable of sending information to Japan. (Such interesting work! The modern-day term for this kind of work is called electronic countermeasure.)

29 October 2012

Old Singapore Quiz (25) - Old Road in 1930s

I received this email on 24 Oct 2012 from a UK gentleman by the name of Mr Peter Howard:
Hi Victor,

I stumbled across your blog when looking for old photos of Singapore. My father went to work in Singapore in the thirties before the Second World War, for the British government I believe.

I have found a post card, which I have attached [above], that he sent to my grandmother of [place name deleted by blog author] Singapore, and on the back he has written, "This photo is of [place name deleted by blog author] our premise (sic) are unfortunately around the corner on the right hand side of the picture."

Do you recognise this from the photograph and do you know the name of the street to which he refers?

While I am asking you all these questions, can you tell me if there is anyone or any organisation I can contact who would hold records of this period and enable me to find out more information concerning his stay in Singapore?

He loved living there and had to return to England when he contracted Yellow Fever.

I would really appreciate you sending me an email with any information you might have.

Best wishes
Peter Howard
I did a bit of research and found the answers to Peter's question quite easily. However, I suggested to Peter to put up his questions as an Old Singapore Quiz. I am confident that this quiz is easy and senior persons old-timers will have no problem providing the correct answers.

Q1.   What is the name of the road in the photo?

Q2.   What is name of the building shown on the left side of the photo?

Q3.   From 1930s - 1970s, what goods was sold in the 2-storey building which is partially shown near the right edge of the photo?

Q4.   What is the name of the road (where the premises of Peter's father was located) that runs to the right of the photo?

As usual, complete answers to the above quiz will be revealed in a week's time.