Vanishing trades reappear on new stamps

Vanishing trades reappear on new stamps
The local tradesmen featured include (clockwise from top left) the kacang puteh seller, the lantern maker, the songkok maker, the goldsmith, the parrot astrologer, the ice-ball seller, the knife sharpener and the cobbler.

A new set of stamps featuring local tradesmen such as cobblers, goldsmiths and milkmen is going into circulation.

Postal service provider SingPost is launching the Vanishing Trades stamp collection to preserve the memories of these trades, brought to local shores by immigrants from Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka decades ago.

"Many of these trades that were once a familiar sight are fast disappearing, with Singapore's development as an urban metropolis," it said in a press statement on Monday.

Parrot astrologers, for instance, came to Singapore from India in the late 19th century. Their parakeets would pick up tarot cards so that their handlers could could tell a patron's future.

Other examples include lantern makers, knife sharpeners and ice-ball sellers who sold drinks and ice-balls drenched in colourful syrup or milk, with toppings such as cooked red beans.

For research in designing the the stamps, Ms Lim An-ling interviewed her family members and headed down to Little India to look for sellers of kacang puteh (steamed, fried or roasted nuts) to sketch and photograph.

Said the freelance animator and illustrator: "My favourite stamp is the one of the ice-ball seller. My mother used to love eating that so she described it to me and we both think it turned out well."

A complete set of the 10 different Vanishing Trades stamps costs $4.08. They go on sale tomorrow at all post offices and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

Orders can also be made at SingPost's online shopping portal at

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