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1858 First Bilingual Chinese/English Large Format Map of Singapore City

Map of Singapore City. / 新嘉坡市區地圖 - Main View

1858 First Bilingual Chinese/English Large Format Map of Singapore City


First official Bi-Lingual Map of Singapore issued after Malaysian Independence.



Map of Singapore City. / 新嘉坡市區地圖
  1958 (undated)     35.5 x 53.5 in (90.17 x 135.89 cm)     1 : 7920


This is an extremely rare large format 1958 first edition map of Singapore in Chinese and English. Being published just one year after the 1957 Treaty of London recognized the independence of the Federation of Malaysia – which then included Singapore - and in the year that Singapore formally attained internal self-governance. The political transition led to a wave of new bi-lingual publications as English was no longer the only official language. Maps in multiple languages became a necessity both for functional and administrative use.
The Path to Self-Governance
Singapore suffered extensively under Japanese control during World War II. Much of the infrastructure was destroyed, including electric and water supply systems, telephone services, and harbor facilities. Moreover, Britain's complete failure to defend Singapore led to anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments. By 1955, Singapore was in the midst of an aggressive redevelopment and attained partial self-governance. This process demanded new cartography and work on this map commenced under David Marshall, the first Chief Minister of Singapore and was fully realized under his successor, Lim Yew Hock. Lim Yew Hock led the negotiation for full internal self-sovereignty. Part of the requirement imposed by the British Parliament was that the nation prove self-sufficiency, in terms of internal development, infrastructure, and defense. This map was designed to help establish the city-state's readiness to join the modern world as a new nation. The 1958 State of Singapore Constitution or the Singapore (Constitution) Order in Council 1958 laid out the basic government structure for a self-governance.
An Administrative Plan
The plan, presented on a vast scale, provides a wealth of information, much of which is technical in nature and hints at the map's administrative purpose. It notes, for examples, on 'metalled' and 'unmetalled' roads, car tracks, 'foot patch', iron, wooden, and masonry bridges, pipelines, light railways, permanent and temporary buildings, rivers, canals, and parks. A massive index in the lower right quadrant details streets and postal districts in both English and Chinese.
Publication History and Census
This map was published by the Singapore Chinese Booksellers Association and printed in Hong Kong by Chung Hwa Book Company. Most likely this was printed in Hong Kong because Singapore, at the time, did not have a printer experienced in with Chinese. A note identifies this as the first edition, but it is unclear if subsequent editions followed. We suspect that the map had an extremely small print run as we have identified only three other examples, one which we sold previously, another in the National Archives of Singapore, and a third in private hands.


Chung Hwa Book Company (中華書局有限公司; 1912 – Present), also known as the Zhonghua Book Company, is a Chinese publishing house founded in Shanghai on January 1, 1912 by Lufei Kui (陸費逵, September 17, 1886 – July 9, 1941). Lufei was formerly employed by the Commercial Press (商务印书馆有限公司), another important Shanghai publishing instruction active from about 1897. The firm attained considerable prominence establishing subsidiaries in Singapore in 1923, Hong Kong in 1927, and Taipei in 1949. Many of these subsidiaries eventually spit off from the original company or were acquired by other firms. The parent firm is currently located in Beijing and trades as the Zhonghua Book Company. Learn More...

Singapore Chinese Booksellers Association ( 1947 – Present), also known as 新嘉坡书业公会, was a Chinese-Singaporean coalition of booksellers established to Chinese publishing culture in Singapore. The maintained offices at 19-B Carpenter Street, Singapore. The organization remains active as the Singapore Booksellers and Stationers Association. Learn More...


Very good. A few minor repaired closed tears. Some wear and verso reinforcement at original fold intersections. Blank on verso.


National Archives of Singapore, SP006291.