Asia

Tang Holdings donates largest private Raffles memorabilia collection to National Museum

SINGAPORE – The largest private collection of memorabilia related to Sir Stamford Raffles is being donated to the National Museum of Singapore by Tang Holdings.

The Tang Holdings Collection includes 46 holograph letters from Raffles to his cousin the Reverend Thomas Raffles, 16 from Raffles to his mother Anne and 58 from Lady Raffles to the Rev Raffles.

There is also Raffles’ copy of his own book The History of Java, coins issued during his term in Java and even a lock of his hair taken after his death.

The collection was acquired in two sales in 2004 and 2005 by Mr Tang Wee Kit, executive chairman of local business empire Tang Holdings, as he felt it was meaningful to his life and his family’s legacy.

No details as to the value of the collection have been given.

“When I first learnt of the collection being made available for acquisition back in 2004, I believed that it should belong to Singapore,” said Mr Tang.

“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.”

Sir Stamford Raffles played a key role in setting up Singapore as a British trading port, which drew migrants to Singapore with the hopes of creating a better future for themselves and their families – one of whom was Mr Tang’s father, the late Mr Tang Choon Keng, better known as Mr C.K. Tang.

Selected artefacts from the collection will be featured in the museum’s upcoming bicentennial exhibition, An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600 – 1819, which will run from September until March next year.

Other artefacts from the collection will be displayed in the Singapore History Gallery in the future.

Ms Angelita Teo, director of the National Museum of Singapore, said: “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.”

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.

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