Handwritten letters by Sir Stamford Raffles, his personal copy of The History of Java and even a lock of his hair, all part of the Tangs Holdings Collection, have been donated to the National Museum of Singapore.
Highlights of the Tangs Holdings Collection include 46 letters from Raffles to his Cousin Rev. Thomas Raffles, 16 letters from Raffles to his mother Anne, 58 letters from Lady Raffles to the Rev. Thomas Raffles, coins issued during Raffles’ term as Governor in Java and a lock of Raffles’ hair taken after his death.
Mr Tang Wee Kit, Executive Chairman of Tang Holdings, acquired the collection in two sales in 2004 and 2005, as he felt it was relevant to his family’s legacy. The company’s founder, the late Mr Tang Choon Keng, known to many as C.K. Tang, was one of the migrants who arrived in the British settlement of Singapore in search of a better life and successfully built up his family’s fortunes.
Explaining further, Mr Tang said, “When I first learnt of the collection being made available for acquisition back in 2004, I believed that it should belong to Singapore. It also resonated with me personally, since it was Sir Stamford Raffles’ foresight and role in transforming Singapore into an ‘Emporium and the pride of the East’, as he himself called it, that brought people to Singapore to seek their fortune – one of whom was my father.”
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Tangs Holdings Collection on Display
A selection of the artefacts from the Tangs Holdings Collection will go on display at the National Museum of Singapore’s upcoming exhibition An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600 – 1819.
The exhibition will open in September 2019 and run till March 2020.
One of the star artefacts that will go on display is a letter which Raffles wrote to his mother just over a month before his arrival in Singapore. Dated 8 December 1818, the letter was written on board the Nearchus, the ship which brought his to Penang, from which he subsequently said on to Singapore on board the Indiana.
One of the artefacts that will go on display at the Singapore History Gallery is Raffles’ own copy of his 1817 book History of Java. This is book that can be seen in the portrait of Raffles in the National Museum’s collection.
“The artefacts present a compelling first-person perspective of early Singapore, as well as offer a unique look at Raffles’ personal reflections and relationships. We are confident that this collection will help strengthen our ongoing endeavour to provide visitors with a rich perspective of the country’s history,” said Angelita Teo, Director, National Museum of Singapore.