Monday, October 31, 2011

Singapore Postal Code - Interesting Facts

Singapore's 6 digit postal code has some interesting history and facts. For the uninitiated, a postal code is basically a series of digits or letters that are appended to the address to aid in the sorting out of mail.  In Singapore, the current postal code used is a 6 digit postal code (i.e. all numbers).  I still remember the days when it used to be a 4 digit code which was so much easier to remember.  In actual fact, a quick check on Singapore's postal code history reveals that there were really 3 different postal codes used.

Postal Code formats throughout Singapore's history
1950 - 2 digit postal code
1979 - 4 digit postal code
1995 - 6 digit postal code

To find out the 6 digit postal code of any address in Singapore, you can use Singpost's service here. All you have to do is provide the block number and street name.

Well, Singapore in the 1950s was divided into 28 postal districts.  These 28 postal districts are actually the same as the districts that you will find even today in classified ads for properties. This goes to show how long entrenched the district system really is and it shows how the way postal districts were organised have gone on to influence the way a property is classified today.  For example, the district 9 properties (Orchard Road, Tanglin, Cairnhill) are often the ones that fetch a high price in the property market.

Subsequently, in 1979, the 28 postal districts were further subdivided into sectors, bringing to a total of 81 sectors.  So in the 4 digit postal codes, the first 2 digits still represented the initial postal district (i.e. 1 to 28) and the last 2 digits represented the sector (i.e. 1 to 81).  I guess this method helped in the sorting of mail tremendously since certain postal districts tend to be large.  In fact, there was a stamp issued in Singapore in 1979 to commemorate the introduction of this new 4 digit postal code.

In 1995, the 6 digit code was introduced. The first 2 digits were now the postal sector code (i.e. 1 to 81).  The remaining 4 digits indicated the delivery point. For HDB blocks, the last 3 numbers refer to the block number (e.g. XXX355 for block 355 and XXX089 for block 89).  If there are 2 blocks with the same number in that certain sector, that is where the 3rd digit comes into play.  (E.g. XX1089 and XX2089).

Interestingly, another Singapore stamp was issued in 1995 when the 6 digit postal code was introduced.  In that stamp, the 4 digit postal code shows 1543 meaning that it was in district 15 and sector 43.  That places it in the Katong/Joo Chiat/Amber Road area.  in the stamp, the new 6 digit code for 1543 was translated to 430010 where 43 was the postal sector.  010 is thus the block number or house number.

So it seems that there is some duplication in the way we write addresses on our envelopes in Singapore.  Since the 6 digit postal code can be derived from the block number and street name, I guess your mail will still get to the intended recipient even if you leave it out(?).  Or you could just state the unit number with the postal code without the street name and your mail should reach the correct address. [Warning: This is just my hunch.  Try at your own risk!]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Philatelic Literature, Stamp Magazines and Stamp Collecting Books

After browsing through many bookstores in Singapore, I realised that there really isn't much one can buy or read regarding postage stamps.  For now, I am confined to the Stamp Magazine which I bought for $12.90 at Times bookshop as well as the August 2011 and September 2011 issue of the same above mentioned magazine.  It really bothers me that I could not find much to read about postage stamps after reading various local bookstores.  It probably means that stamp collecting is in the decline here in Singapore.

Well, reading the Stamp Magazine is fine for me.  Trouble is that a lot of the topics are really on Great Britain stamp issues and so it does not really relate very well with me.  One could certainly do with a lot more literature on philately considering that information on certain stamps as well as the history/design/thought process behind many of the stamps are really scarce and hard to find on the internet.

Anyway, just an interesting fact that I found out.  3 Kings ruled during 1936.  Who were they?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Straits Settlements 1867

The first issue of the Straits Settlements stamps took place on 1 Sept 1867 and the stamps used were basically Indian stamps that were overprinted with the crown and the different rate of postages (See example here) .  It comprise a set of 9 stamps featuring 1 1/2 cents, 2 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, 6 cents, 8 cents, 12 cents, 24 cents and 32 cents.

Of these, I think the 6 cents and 12 cents are pretty rare as I do not seem to be able to find them on eBay.  A quick check on some catalogue prices on the internet also seem to suggest that the entire set of 9 used stamps command a price of almost S$2000!

Have been trying desperately to get my hands on this as this is afterall the first issue of Straits Settlements stamps or the first stamps of Singapore when it was formed into the Straits Settlements together with Penang and Malacca.  Every collection has to start somewhere and my Singapore collection has to start with this Sept 1867 issue of 9 stamps.

I did a rather quick research on Ebay (based on the final bidding prices or buy it now prices) to check some of the prices of these stamps:

3 cents used =  US$54.08 (16 bids)
4 cents used  = US$74.26 (20 bids)
8 cents used  = US$35.00 (Buy it now price)
24 cents used = US$24.99 to US$40.34 (Buy it now price) OR $67.80 (17 bids)
32 cents used = US58.12 (12 bids)

Hope it is useful reference for all.  Apparently, the Ebay prices are going for much lower than the catalogue prices.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Straits Settlements Stamps 1885 and 1892 Surcharge

This are 2 Straits Settlements stamps that I bought some time back. Apologise for the lousy scan as it was done through a stock sheet and there was another protective covering inside the stock sheet so the image is not very clear.

The first stamps is an 1885 stamp 3 cents surcharge on 32 cent pale magenta.

The second stamp to the right is an 1892-1894 3 cents surcharged on a 32cents carmine-rose stamp.

Bought both of these stamps off ebay at the price of USD$4.50.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Singapore Stamp - 1980 Fujian Junk

This stamp was issued in 1980 and depicts a Fujian Junk ship. The Fujian Junk is a traditional Chinese ship. In fact, there was a Fujian Junk moored in Philippines that was restored by ship restorer Graeme Morris.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where To Buy Stamps

There are actually many places that one can buy stamps from in Singapore. If you are simply looking for postage stamps to send your letters, you can simply buy it from any post office or a self-service automated machine (SAM). SAMs are conveniently located all around the island and you can find them in shopping malls or at mrt stations. There is a minimum purchase though so one will have to buy quite a few of the postage labels. The ones sold at SAM are usually the adhesive postage labels and I don't think there is much philatelic interest in them even amongst stamp collectors.

If you are looking to buy the traditional kind of postage stamps for collecting, you can always buy it from Singpost's online store which is called VPost. Just search for the link to philatelic and you will be able to browse and buy a great deal of both local and foreign stamps. Delivery charges are pretty cheap and they usually reach my home in 3 working days.

Another source where I buy stamps from is EBay. I have spent lots of money buying postage stamps from EBay and have always received my stamps on time and in order. The prices are bait more steep compared to the actual prices they were originally sold at as the sellers have to make a profit at the end of the day. You can find tons of stamps on EBay and they include both used as well as mint stamps.

I have also heard that some countries even have a system where you can buy stamps online and then print out the postage stamps to use. Now how cool is that?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Singapore Ship Definitives - 1980 Caravel 50 cents

Lately, I have been scanning the various stamps that I have. When I am free, I upload them onto this blog. It is pretty entertaining just to do so and besides, I think people like reading about stamps too since it is a pretty cool hobby where you basically learn a lot more about the things/history/people that is depicted on the various stamps.

The used stamp below was issued in 1980 and depicts a Caravel which is a kind of boat that was used by the Portugese in their exploration. Their speed and agility made it possible for the Portugese to travel down to India and eventually Asia where the spice trade was pretty profitable. Singapore was part of these cross-roads in the spice trade though I don't recall in my history lessons ever reading that it fell to Portugese or Spanish hands.

So the caravel was really an important invention and it did have an impact on the spice trade in Asia.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Singapore Honey Bee Stamp 1985 10 cents

This is a Honey Bee stamp from Singapore issued in 1985. It is part of a set of insects low definitives and I actually have quite a few duplicates. Would like to think that this is one of the first few stamps that I had when I first started my collection many years ago.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Community Chest Stamp 1989

Managed to scan another Community Chest Stamp that was printed in 1989. It is probably from the same series as the first community chest stamp that I wrote about just yesterday. Like I said, it most probably is not a postage stamp per se. The scan of this stamp is shown below. The plan depicted in the stamp is quite a common potted plant that is often bought by Chinese families during the lunar new year in Singapore.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lunar New Year 1989 Community Chest

I came across this stamp in my stamp album and realised that it was not in the stamp catalogue. Tried to do a search on the internet to find out what kind of stamp this is. I am figuring that it is really not a postage stamp at all but it really looks like one. It clearly shows the Community Chest of Singapore which is sort of a charity in Singapore.


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