The first-ever issue of The Straits Times last night took centre stage at an exhibition commemorating the broadsheet's 170-year history.
The brittle eight-page edition, printed using a hand-operated press on July 15, 1845, was transferred from the National Library Board rare collection's section to the Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.
Its front page is filled with notices about shipping activity, warehouses for rent and foreign goods for sale. It has torn edges and a missing lower portion.
To preserve it, the temperature at the exhibition venue has been kept at about 20 deg C.
The operation to move and install the paper took about five hours and involved a crew of 10 which included art handlers and museum and library staff.
This collection is a valuable resource of Singapore's history and heritage.
MRS ELAINE NG, the National Library's chief executive, on the library's collection of more than 200 Singapore and Malayan newspapers
National Library chief executive Elaine Ng said the newspaper is part of the library's collection of more than 200 Singapore and Malayan newspapers which date as far back as the 1830s.
"This collection is a valuable resource of Singapore's history and heritage," she said.
The Straits Times has been published continuously, other than during the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945. International market reports also appeared at the back of the then weekly paper - an indication of how thriving an entrepot Singapore was then.
The Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow exhibition, which marks both the newspaper's 170th anniversary and Singapore's Golden Jubilee, is free and will run until Oct 4. It opened on July 17 and more than 40,000 people had visited as of Tuesday.
Curated and organised by The Straits Times and the ArtScience Museum , it chronicles the challenges and triumphs of Singapore through reports and photos from the paper's archives.
CapitaLand is its presenting sponsor, while Standard Chartered Bank is a gold sponsor. Best Denki sponsors the exhibition's equipment.
About 200 images in the exhibition have been published as a book titled Front Page: STories Of Singapore Since 1845. Sponsored by the Bank of Singapore, it is on sale at $25 (before GST) at the museum and bookstores.
Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said the paper is "delighted to be able to display the very first edition". He added: "Visitors to the exhibition will get to see an actual copy of what the paper looked like, and the kinds of contents it had back then.
"We think this will be a special treat and hope many more will choose to visit, or even revisit, the exhibition in the weeks ahead."
Ms Honor Harger, executive director of the ArtScience Museum, said: "With this new rare artefact on display, the exhibition takes on added significance as we celebrate Singapore's 50th anniversary this weekend."