Hawker Centres (2011)

Hawker centres are a common sight in Singapore, and they have become part and parcel of life for most Singaporeans. These food centres are conveniently located near public housing estates or transport hubs to serve the residents and commuters alike. They are often said to be highly symbolic of the Singapore lifestyle and culture, some citing it as a meeting place for social interaction and family bonding.

Stalls in hawker centres sell a wide variety of food, keeping prices low to attract more customers. In fact, one can easily find hidden treasures in the form of high-quality food at these places, with some highly recommended by television programmes. Unlike food courts, these hawker centres are not air-conditioned. Over the years, efforts have been made to enhance the aesthetics and ventilation.

Today, Singapore Post has released four stamps of 80 cents each, featuring the illustrations of East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre, Newton Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and the Lau Pa Sat. These stamps were jointly designed by Leon Yeo and Jean Ng.

In the 19th century, hawkers of the various ethnic groups started selling food along streets due to its low starting capital. They slowly grew in numbers, Patrons often purchase from these makeshift stalls out of convenience. The high unemployment resulted from the Second World War has led to the surge in the number of hawkers. Concerns about the hygiene of the food were raised in the late 1960s, leading to the introduction of policies to curb the growth of these street hawkers. In 1971, the government started building hawker centres to relocate these street hawkers into a more hygienic environment. By the mid 1980s, over 140 hawker centres were built across the country. In 2001, the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme was introduced to enhance facilities. While maintaining the unique flavours of these iconic structures, improvements have been made to give them a new lease of life.

Adapted from article by Singapore Post, Images by Singapore Post

Singapore $10 Banknote with Two Triangles

A new variety of the $10 Singapore banknote with two triangles on the reverse was spotted in early May 2011. The two triangles were similarly printed in red, beneath the word ‘Sports’ on the bottom left corner of the note. Currently, there are a total of five varieties for the $10 note – with no symbol, one square, two squares, one triangle and two triangles, making it the denomination with the largest number of varieties at the moment.

Another denomination which has two triangles printed on it is the $1000 note.

The Additional Cent

It appears that a well-known securities and investment company in Singapore has decided to add one additional cent of postage to the mail it sent out. A rare sight – the numerals ‘0033’ has been imprinted onto an envelope dated 28 February 2011 in red ink.

Currently, standard mail up to the weight of 40 grams costs 32 cents when posted to a local address. Therefore, the 33 cent impression was probably an error made during the franking process, unless Singapore Post recently (or secretly) introduced a new premium of one additional cent for franked mail. However, I would say that the latter is an unlikely scenario. There was no justification for SingPost to do so, especially since the use of franked mail reduced the need to print stamps and subsequently process stamped mail.

Major establishments often opt for the more convenient franked mail over postage stamps, especially when they regularly send out large quantities of mail in assorted sizes and weights. The franking machine prints the value of the postage on the envelope and records each impression in its log.

According to SingPost’s website, the franking machine ‘allows (the user) to maintain accurate and up-to-date postage records and it prints any value of postage required’. It certainly does – 33 cents is indeed an odd value. As far as I know, certain franking machines have built-in weighing features, while others require a manual adjustment of the postage required. The older franking machines involved adjustments similar to a new day on your typical rubber date stamp.

While it seems that one cent is a small amount and that the error is insignificant, it could have cost the company much more. If this happened to be part of a bulk-mailing spree extended to the entire clientele, a huge amount – thousands of dollars – would have been incurred by this securities and investment company. As this may just be an isolated case, investors should carefully attune their confidence level in the company at their own discretion.

Revenue Stamps

This morning, I chanced upon this Singapore 10-cent revenue stamp while looking through my old collection. A revenue stamp is often used to collect taxes on documents and licences. Businesses would purchase these stamps from the government, and stick them onto the document, such as contracts and agreements which can be tendered in court. Documents which are unstamped may therefore be deemed invalid by the government.

To prevent the reuse of such revenue stamps, they would then be cancelled, often using a simple pen stroke, using an inked stamp, or punching a hole. Higher denominations may include security features due to their high value, in order to prevent counterfeiting.

In Singapore, stamp duty is often imposed on documents relating to properties and shares by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, more commonly known as IRAS. Today, electronic stamping has replaced these physical stamps in most countries, including Singapore.

It seems that there is not much information on Singapore’s revenue stamps online. If you would like to discuss more about these revenue stamps or would like to share pictures of your revenue stamp collection, feel free to leave your comment below.

And lastly, if you have not e-filed your income tax, remember to do so at the IRAS website by 18 April!

Pond Life Definitives 2011

On 13 April 2011, Singapore Post released the low value definitive stamps for the ‘Pond Life’ series. This series aims to showcase the detailed and vivid images of various pond creatures, which is said to ‘give a glimpse beneath the water’s surface of life on a pond’. There are a total of ten denominations in today’s stamp issue.

Two plants – the water lily and water hyacinth – were featured on the 1st Local and 2nd Local denominations respectively. The water lily has round leaves and fragrant flowers that lasted only for a few days, while the water hyacinth with lavender to pink coloured flowers with six petals is often found in water catchment areas.

Other creatures featured include the white-collared kingfisher (5c), diving beetle (20c), common redbolt (30c), ornate coraltail (45c), black marsh terrapin (50c), white-breasted waterhen (55c), common greenback (65c) and common toad (80c).

This issue was designed by Eric Kong, and was printed by rotogravure. If you were to pick up these stamps, you would find that the drawings of the flowers and animals printed on them are coated with a shiny coat of reflective ink. For this issue, note the slight variation in the perforation at the top and bottom edges.

One design defect would be that the denomination is printed in a small fanciful font at the bottom corner of the stamp, which may unintentionally inconvenience users. I might say that the value of the stamp is rather tiny and unobvious, especially when it is white in colour. If you happen to get hold of one of these stamps sometime soon, do take a look. The mark for the first issue ‘2011A’ is printed in black, at the bottom right corner of the stamp. Now that’s even smaller, collectors may soon be using a magnifying lens to detect any new reprints.

Two months back on 16 February, a set of high-value definitive stamps on Pond Life were released. They include the common tilapia ($1.10), pond wolf spider ($2), water skaters ($5) and water scorpion ($10).

2XU Compression Run 2011

The 2XU Compression Run 2011 was held on 10 April in Singapore’s Central Business District. The 12-kilometre run brought participants to places such as the Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands. The race was flagged off at the F1 track next to the Singapore Flyer at 6:55 am.

Participants first headed north towards Republic Avenue and into Kallang Road, making a turn into Kallang Riverside Park at the 3-kilometre mark and back to the Singapore Flyer. Up next was a right turn to the Floating Platform and subsequently the Esplanade. Yes, the bright red Merlion Hotel was also spotted along the route. This is followed by a left turn into Marina Boulevard and towards the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

Before realising it, there was a flight of steps ahead leading up to the Helix Bridge. At the 10-kilometre mark under the Helix Bridge, participants were running in both directions along a narrow path – and with a number of them cutting across to the other lane – for an entire kilometre. This left many runners on the return route to run across a rough path filled with pebbles. The race officials should have used barricades instead of orange cones.

There were a total of six water points along the route. Despite the slight drizzle midway through the run, participants continued running towards the finish point, which was at the Singapore Flyer. My timing for this run was approximately 1:01.

Van Harte!

I have no idea what that phrase means, but it is the only text found on this 44 eurocent stamp from the Netherlands that does not scream its origin or its value. The last line ‘aanvang verkoop’ suggested that this stamp was first sold on 22 September 2009.

How do we use this stamp? An illustration above the stamp encourages the sender to use a red pen to colour out the white spaces on the number 88, leaving the number 32. Perhaps any other number will do, but what is the designer trying to portray anyway?

The design concept is certainly unique as it involves some level of interaction. However, this stamp appears to be somewhat a mysterious one, as online searches did not produce any useful results. The article number 291261 did not help either. Those with information on this mystifying stamp could leave a comment below!

This concludes the Three Stamps from the Netherlands series. And it also concludes the relocation of close to 1200 stamps to the new drawer.

Braille Typography

Update: As announced earlier in the week, some of the stamps will be affected by relocation works. Some 400 stamps have moved in to their new home early yesterday, completing the first phase of the project. The remaining stamps will by moved over the weekend.

On 10 January 2009, the Netherlands’ national postal service issued a series of postage stamps featuring typographic abstractions alongside embossed Braille letters to mark the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. This award-winning stamp issue (at the Dutch National Awards) was designed by Rene Put, this set of stamps can be ‘read’ by both the sighted and the blind. The stamp shown, ‘Geluk Wens Bravo’, is one of the twelve available designs.

A stamp which you can see and touch at the same time! A brilliant design, isn’t it?

This is the second part of the series, Three Stamps from the Netherlands.

LOFAR Radio Telescope

Latest News: An increasing amount of items in my stamp collection has caused a situation of massive overcrowding in my humble cupboard, prompting for an urgent need to reclaim more land. An adjacent drawer has already been earmarked for further development, in order to alleviate the disorder. Part of the population – mainly stamps from other countries – will be resettled to the new sector in the coming weeks. Three interesting stamps from the Netherlands are among those affected.

This 77 eurocent stamp released back in 2009 shows the LOFAR (LOw Frequency ARray) project for radio astronomy. Built and operated by ASTRON over four years from 2006, this project involves an interferometric array of radio telescopes distributed across the Netherlands. Stations are also located in other European countries, including five in Germany, one each in Great Britain, France and Sweden. On 12 June 2010, LOFAR was officially opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Of course, this stamp has its own unique feature. The design of the stamp extends towards the edges, including the portion that may possibly be torn away. That’s something which is seldom seen on stamps from Singapore!

This is the first in the series, Three Stamps from the Netherlands.

100 Years of Aviation in Singapore

Aviation enthusiasts would probably be interested in today’s stamp issue. Entitled 100 Years of Aviation in Singapore, this set of five stamps was released by Singapore Post on 16 March 2011. Each stamp featured an aircraft flying above an aviation hub in a chronological order, with the silhouette of a cheerful crowd as the foreground.

Exactly one century ago on 16 March 1911, the first aircraft flew out of Singapore and was piloted Mr Joseph Christiaens. That moment was reflected in the 1st Local stamp. Singapore’s first civil airport, Seletar Airport, was featured on the 45 cents stamp. Kallang Airport and Paya Lebar are featured on the 65 cents and 80 cents stamps respectively. The Airbus A380 aircraft flies over Singapore Changi International Airport in the $1.10 stamp.