Singpex 2019 and 100 Years of Airmail in Singapore

Singpex 2019 will be held from 31 July to 4 August 2019 at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre Halls 401 and 402. Also known as the 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition, this year’s event has a strong significance as Singapore commemorates two important historical milestones. 

In 2019, Singapore celebrates 200 years since the landing of Sir Stamford Raffles on 29 January 1819. In terms of postal history, this year also marks 100 years since the first airmail in Singapore. One century ago, the first aerial mail was flown from London to Darwin, with Singapore as one of its stops along the 11000-mile journey. 

On 31 July 2019, Singpost will be issuing a 60-cent stamp and a $2 stamp. The 60-cent stamp features the pilots Captain Ross Macpherson Smith and his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith, as well as the Vimy bomber aircraft which they flew in. The stamp also shows a mail cover that was believed to be on the flight. 

The $2 stamp also shows the same aircraft, together with a mail cover addressed to Mrs Andrew Smith (the pilots’ mother). The cover comes with the stamps of ten countries where the aircraft stopped over during its journey.

There is also a miniature sheet that contains both stamps, as well as a map showing the journey from London to Darwin. There are 2000 miniature sheets that come with serial numbers, sold at $18 each (except special numbers, $68).

At Singpex 2019, there will be a philatelic exhibition showcasing stamps from the Straits Settlements era to modern-day Singapore, covering 200 years of postal history. Over 1200 exhibition frames have been submitted by competitors from 26 countries. Visitors will get a glimpse of rare stamps that are seldom seen. There will also be booths set up by stamp dealers, auction houses and postal administrations from around the world. 

First Airmail in Singapore

Back in 1919, six teams participated in a flying machine competition arranged by the Australian government. Captain Ross Macpherson Smith and his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith – both Royal Air Force pilots – eventually became the first team to fly from England to Australia within 30 days. They were offered a prize of 10000 Australian pounds for being the first to complete this journey. 

The team flew in a Vimy bomber aircraft, together with two mechanics Sergeant W.H. (Wally) Shiers and J.M. (Jim) Bennett on board. The aircraft left Hounslow Heath on 12 November 1919 and arrived in Darwin on 10 December 1919, taking a total of 27 days and 20 hours. Apart from Singapore, there were 13 other stops along the route from London and Darwin, including Rome, Cairo, Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) and Batavia (present-day Jakarta). 

Singpex Exclusive Products

At Singpex 2019, there are some exclusive stamp products by Singpost. On the first day of Singpex, 100 imperforated stamp sheets and 100 imperforated miniature sheets were made available at $150 each.

  • Singpex 2019 Exhibition Miniature Sheet (featuring Year of the Pig stamps) – $2.45
  • Set of 5 pre-cancelled souvenir covers (with Singpex daily theme date stamps, only available on the last day) – $18.70
  • 5 Special Edition Aerogramme for 100 Years of First Airmail – $8.00
  • 100 Years First Airmail postcards (three different designs with gold foil stamping) – $1.60 each, $4 per set of three
  • Blank Souvenir Cover – $0.50

Two Singpex-exclusive commemorate sheets were also sold for $12.80 each: the Singapore–Israel Joint Stamp Issue (8 May 2019) and the Singapore–Philippines Joint Stamp Issue (16 May 2019). These commemorative sheets come with a full set of stamps from both countries. The stamps are also cancelled with a postmark from the respective countries.