Other than it was an old envelope, what drew my attention to it was the address and words on it – it tells a story of another age and another time.
I was also drawn to the address of the photography shop printed on the envelope, and prompted me do so some searching and investigative work - in the library and at the street corners!
The shop’s English name was written as: Fee Fee Photographic Store. It stated that it was an: Agency for all kinds of Camera for Profession and Amateurs. Photographic goods and chemicals can be obtained from us at very moderate prices Our enlarging, developing and printing works are under the supervision of the experts. And with: Satisfaction Guaranteed.
However, it did not give its address, which instead was written in the Chinese print.
非非摄影社 (Fei Fei Yingshe – Fei Fei Photographic Studio )
星洲大坡吉宁街一百六十号 (Xingzhou Dapo Ji Ning Jie 160 hao)
The interesting part of the address is - 吉宁街 – Ji Ling Jie (Pinyin) , and where about is this street. Could this be the former Kling Street, I wonder. For Ji Ning Jie is pronounced as Kiat Leng Koi (Hokkien) or Gut Ling Gai ( Cantonese) , which is the dialect terms for Kling.
Not being native born, and when I moved here, many of the old streets were already gone, I did not have an inkling where this street was or is. I knew that Chulia Street was once called Kling Street. Could this shop be then located in Chualia Street, I wonder.
This reproduction of a 1862 map of the town map of Singapore clearly showed that stretch of Chulia Street named as Kling Street. When the word Kling came to take on a derogatory reference to the Southern Indians convicts, it was renamed Chulia, which is the North Indian term for Kalinga. In another map dated 1929, Kling Street had been changed to Chualia Street.
However, while on a Sunday walk I came across this plate - put up by the National Heritage Board and the Singapore Tourism Bureau - at the junction of South Bridge Road and Cross Street which states that - Cross Street was once known as Kiat Leng Kia Kio (Hokkien ) - Gut Ling Zai Gai (Cantonese) - 吉宁仔街 - after the ethnic Indian that used to be concentrated here in the 1800/s.
Though Kiat Leng Kia Koi was left out in the Chinese translation on the plate, the Japanese translation had the word -吉宁仔街- written in Chinese characters. The word - 仔 – kia (Hokkien) or zai (Cantonese variously means - boy, kid or youngster.
Could this Kiat Leng Kia Koi – 吉宁仔街- be the same – 吉宁街- Kiat Leng Koi - where Fei Fei Photographic Store was once located, i.e. at No.160, Cross Street.
.And probably - 吉宁街 – Kiat Leng Koi - was the written Chinese term for the more colloquial sounding 吉宁仔街 – Kiat Leng Kia Koi.
Or is it that - 吉宁仔街 - Kiat Leng Kia Koi - was Cross Street, while 吉宁街 – Kiat Leng Koi - was Chulia Street?
1. My take would be the photographic store would be located closer to this part of the town nearer to Amoy Street and South Bridge Road, as the print on the envelope indicated that it catered more to a Chinese clientele.
2. What price to develop, print and enlarge a photograph in pre-war Singapore?
Size Developing Printing
3 ¼” X 2 ¼” $0.20 Cents per roll $0.04 each
4½”X 2½ ” $0.25 Cents per roll $0.06 each
5½” X3¼” $0.40 Cents per roll $0.10 each
5½”X3¼” $0.15 cents each
6½”X4 ¾” $0.30 cents each
8½”X6½” $0.70 cents each
10”X12” $1.30 cents each
3. This envelope had been kept in the drawer as long as I could remember and had the photograph of dad taken in Singapore when he was on the 1940 high school excursion to- Xingzhou – 星州.
a) Singapore - A guide to Buildings, Streets, Places by Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Times Book International, 1988.
b) The maps are found in the National Library, hung on the walls in the private collection section.