The Singapore Philatelic Museum is finding new ways to make stamps stick.
BY PAMELA HO
Published on 22 December 2015
BY PAMELA HO
Fans of Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang may find themselves stepping into the Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) for the first time — even if they have never licked a stamp in their lives.
The With Love From Snoopy, Charlie Brown & the Peanuts Gang Exhibition, which runs till 30 April 2016, was created to do just that: reach out to a wider audience, young and old, who are not stamp collectors or letter-writers.
Riding on the Singapore premiere of 20th Century Fox’s The Peanuts Movie, and in celebration of the 65th anniversary of Charles Schulz’s first comic strip published in 1950, the exhibition showcases rare stamp artworks, stamps and first day covers, and even comics and collectibles.
Look out for the first Snoopy stamps issued in 2000 by Portugal, as well as stamps from Gibraltar, Cayman Islands, the United States, Japan and even Singapore! Yes, in conjunction with the exhibition and movie, Singapore Post has launched a limited-edition commemorative MyStamp folder, complete with a Peanuts lanyard (S$21.80) available at the museum gift shop.
“The reason we wanted to do this exhibition was because Snoopy is so well-loved around the world. The comics are translated into 21 languages, and there are stamps issued by many countries,” says Tresnawati Prihadi, general manager of SPM.
“An exhibition like this reaches out to three generations. Our parents and us grew up reading Snoopy comics, and when we bring our children to the exhibition, there are lots of memories to share,” explains Lucille Yap, the senior curator behind this exhibition.
“From experience with previous exhibitions on Tintin, Iron Man, DC Comics Superheroes and Star Wars, we know popular-culture themes work because of fans who will collect anything and everything to do with the theme,” she says with a chuckle. “Countries issue such stamps because they know pop culture reaches out to collectors around the world and increase the visibility of their stamps.”
PUSHING THE ENVELOP SPM’s general manager Tresnawati Prihadi believes stamps are here to stay, and reaching new audiences is possible with relevant and exciting programming. PHOTOS Singapore Philatelic Museum
Besides seasonal exhibitions inspired by pop culture, SPM also boasts permanent galleries that give you an overview of the history and significance of stamps. Did you know that the world’s first adhesive postage stamp was called the Penny Black, and was issued by Great Britain in 1840?
Before stamps came on the scene, you had to pay when you received a letter. This led to people rejecting letters, even if someone had travelled a long distance to deliver it. That system made postal service extremely expensive. What was necessary was for the sender to pay first. Hence, the stamp was invented. But then, what would you put on a stamp?
From Queen Victoria to heads-of-state, that image has evolved. “A stamp is a pictorial record of a country. In The Singapore Journey: 50 Years Through Stamps exhibition, you’ll see our struggles and victories reflected in our stamps,” shares Prihadi. “A stamp also reflects daily life — from food to costumes, sports to pop culture.”
POST-HISTORY The Room of Rarities showcases the gems of Singapore philately, including stamps from 1800s till today that relate to Singapore’s postal history.
While the museum takes us back in time through its history and heritage galleries, it also stays current and cutting-edge with its themes and technology. You’ll even find a vending machine that dispenses stamps — just scan a barcode and download your favourite stamp on your phone!
“We also allow visitors to touch the exhibits — most other museums don’t allow that. We know that our young audiences, especially, will not be happy just reading and looking at things, so we give them that outlet to interact with the exhibits in all the galleries,” says Prihadi.
SPM’s schools programme caters to children from ages four and up. In fact, all Primary 3 students now visit the museum as part of the curriculum. Photography is also allowed. In fact, visitors are encouraged to post pictures on social media.
From now till 30 April 2016, take a selfie with Snoopy and a mailbox, post it on the museum’s Facebook page with the hashtags #SingaporePhilatelicMuseum and #PeanutsMovie, and you’ll receive an exclusive Peanuts postcard.
Local participants will also receive gift vouchers from the Charlie Brown Café.
“Stamps have always connected the world. They helped us connect with our families and friends, and made communication affordable so that through the sharing of information, we had progress,” reflects Prihadi. “You may come to see the stamps, but you will learn a lot about the world.”
For more on the Singapore Philatelic Museum, visit www.spm.org.sg.
GOING PEANUTS! Lucille Yap, curator of the Peanuts exhibition, introduces not just Snoopy stamps from around the world, but the comic strip’s creator, characters and philatelic theme. PHOTO Pamela Ho
Three little-known facts about the Singapore Philatelic Museum.
1. The double-storey colonial building housing the SPM was formerly part of Anglo-Chinese School. The building’s original plans were approved in 1906. It also housed the Methodist Book Room until SPM started operation on 19 August 1995.
2. The postage stamp was introduced in Singapore in 1854. It was issued by the British East India Company as the Straits Settlements (which included Singapore) was under the control of the colonial administration in Bengal, India. The stamp featured Queen Victoria and was without perforation.
3. The pillar box outside SPM is the only operational posting box of its kind in Singapore today! Red pillar boxes were used in Singapore during British colonial days from the 1900s till 1971, when they were replaced by rectangular post boxes.