Today, while deciding the first on our new list of quirky holidays, we came across “Cherish an Antique Day”. Between celebrating our heritage and reminiscing with paintings of old, we came to the only reasonable conclusion : what better way to celebrate than to take a look at memorable artifacts from the past? Thus, join us as we speak to the expert in antiques at The Heritage Shop on Jalan Sultan.
More often than not, people collect and keep things for different reasons. Whether it is for intellectual, aesthetic or emotional satisfaction, the art of collecting nearly always derives from passion. Be it collecting furniture, books or even simple everyday objects, these items become antique overtime. Akin to old books, antiques hold an unprecedented amount of knowledge waiting patiently to be discovered; like an exotic gem, it waits for its next owner as it passes through history from generation to generation.
Despite being such a small country, Singapore certainly has a rich history of antique items packed in nostalgic lanes on city streets. Forget museums and art galleries, the antique market in Singapore is just as significant for people in the pursuit of discovery. While the old bric-a-brac stores are scarce island wide, there are still several places one can discover to satisfy a desire for vintage, collectible merchandise.
Located along Jalan Sultan, The Heritage Shop is a prime example of a true collection of history and culture. As one takes the first step past the threshold, the place immediately evokes a sense of nostalgia with a vast display of collectible items of treasured finds. The shop owner, Mr Patrick Phua has been running the shop for 16 years. With his kindness and humility, he was more than willing to share about his own personal experience with regard to collecting antique items.
Definitely a passionate collector, Patrick is well aware of the lure of the hunt. What started out as an excessive amount of items bought on impulse gradually turns into a passion of collecting random objects close to his heart. He first started out on garage sales 25 years ago, hopping on the bandwagon seeking locals who have no qualms about buying second-hand goods. To his amazement, there were overwhelming positive responses from enthusiastic buyers on the quest for antiques. This gave him confidence to leverage on this opportunity and set up his own business in the antique market.
Yet, the most intriguing thing is that Patrick is able to incorporate his love of collecting into his job for passion, rather than a desire to make money.
“Without that passion, it is very hard to continue with this business. You have to love it to want to learn more about the different antique items”, says Patrick.
It is truly inspiring to learn about his strong love for antiques. Time on earth, is a valuable asset and it is something to be spent on wisely. Patrick chose to indulge his time in collecting and trading antique items, and that steered him right off onto a route that brings him happiness, purely by doing what he loves.
“It’s my hobby, it’s my indulgence”, he says.
A quick scan of the shop seemingly reveals an infinite amount of unique finds, with an assortment of old books, porcelain plates and artworks methodically arranged throughout the interior. With antique chairs, Chinese ornaments, old telephones and mini cassettes, the list is long indeed. Each item is unique in its aesthetic, brimming with nostalgia and memories.
Among the many items within the shop, one particularly intriguing piece is the old, vintage radio situated at the corner. It may seem that the golden age of radio may be gone, but antique radios like this one easily trigger memories of times gone by.
Similarly, photographs of our late prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, alongside other images that contain old memories of Singapore, linger on the sidewalk of the shop. Undeniably, simple pictures like these can easily be used to educate people of our past history, acknowledge our past political turmoil, and appreciate the good old days of rock ‘n’ roll in the 60s.
The aisles of shelves were also filled with irregularly stacked dishes and porcelain ware, reflecting memories of old Singapore, and allowing visitors to learn and reminisce the good, old times of the past.
While one may question the challenges of the prospects an antique business today holds due to the advent of digital platforms such as ebay, it is not surprising that many visitors are still drawn to the shop for vintage pieces. Indeed, Patrick’s customers are widely diverse, ranging from random passers-by and tourists, to regular customers. One possible reason could be the face-to-face interaction with the seller, especially when collectors like Patrick are not out to earn money.
When asked about the sustainability of his antique business, Patrick simply laughed and said that he is uncertain about the future; perhaps instead, this could be a lucrative market in Singapore for people to visit the relics of Singapore’s history.
With an array of technological devices often being reinvented, people nowadays tend to indulge in the need to have something ‘new’. Yet, old is gold. It’s through relics of the past that retains a story of rich history. Be it a collector who collects for passionate interests or a visitor who buys out of nostalgia, antiques are very much treasured finds that holds aesthetic or historical significance.
For Patrick, collecting old items has gradually translated into a passion, bringing him joy and developing a lifestyle allowing him to experience that joy everyday.
The Heritage Shop
93 Jalan Sultan
As this week draws to a close, stay tuned for yet another installment of a quirky holiday soon to come in next week’s issue of “Quirky Holidays”.