Two beautiful Thai passports from 1954

Thai passports used Thai and French as language, until the late 1970s when French was substituted by English.

Thanks to a Thai collector, I could acquire two beautiful old passports from Thailand. Both documents came in excellent condition, were issued in 1954, and are suitable for travel to the “Territory of Malaysia, Singapore.”

The limited travel to Malaysia/Singapore is quite interesting, as it was a turbulent time. During the 1950s, Chinese communists, with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools, waged a guerrilla war against the government, leading to the Malayan Emergency. The 1954 National Service riots, the Hock Lee bus riots, and the Chinese middle school riots in Singapore were all linked to these events.

Furthermore, I discovered that the family was Thai-German, doing business activities in Siam/Thailand since 1878. The 1908 publication Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam describes the business as follows:

 

ห้างฟาล์คแอนด์ไบเด็ก (ห้างสิงห์โต) Falck & Beidek Department Store (Hang Singha-To) กรุงเทพมหานคร (พระนคร) | Bangkok ถ่ายเมื่อราวปีค.ศ.1903 (พ.ศ.๒๔๔๖) Image Source: Cornell University Library, United States

It is no exaggeration to say that practically everything which a resident in Bangkok needs, with the exception, perhaps, of piece goods, may be purchased from Messrs. Falck and Beidek, a firm of importers and wholesale and retail merchants who have been firmly established in Siam now for some thirty years past. The business was founded in 1878 by Messrs. Falck, Bramann, and Beidek and has, since its inception, been known by the Hong name of “Hang Sing Toh.” Some idea of the extent of the trade carried on by the firm and the resources at their command may be gathered from the size of their new premises, which are situated on an extensive piece of ground just off the New Road, and adjoining their old site, which will shortly be occupied by the Chartered Bank’s building now in the course of erection. Their premises form, undoubtedly, the finest business house in Bangkok. The material used in their construction was imported from abroad, even the very bricks. They are fireproof and are so arranged that every facility is given for the effective display of the goods. The building is three stories high on each side and two stories high in the center, so that, including the godowns, the amount of floor space at disposal is something like 35,000 feet. The house, both in size and the wide range of selections provided by the amount of stock, compares favorably with any leading stores in Singapore or Pinang. Hardware, stationery, furniture, safes, machinery, pumps, machine fittings, china, glass, pottery, trunks, travelers’ requisites, fancy goods, typewriters, duplicators, bicycles, clocks, and many other articles all come within the scope of the enterprise. These goods are imported directly from the leading houses in Europe and America, and the firm’s name and standing are sufficiently high to guarantee their quality.

Mr. Ch. Kramer, a firm’s partner since 1896, has been connected with the business for the last twenty years. New premises were built under his supervision and according to instructions found on his long observation of the trade requirements in Bangkok.

ห้างฟาล์คแอนด์ไบเด็ก (ห้างสิงห์โต) Falck & Beidek Department Store (Hang Singha-To) กรุงเทพมหานคร (พระนคร) | Bangkok ถ่ายเมื่อราวปีค.ศ.1903 (พ.ศ.๒๔๔๖) Image Source: Cornell University Library, United States

The business closed down during World War I when Siam declared war against Germany and seized the properties of its citizens. The building afterward changed hands several times. By the 1980s, it had become known as the Oriental Plaza and operated as an upmarket shopping center selling antiques, art objects, and handicrafts. It was acquired by TCC Group in the 2000s, after which it was renamed O.P. Place.

O.P. Place stands on Soi Charoen Krung 38, near its sister property O.P. Garden and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, occupying an area in the historic Bang Rak neighborhood featuring several European heritage buildings. The building was established in 1908 in the neoclassical style, with arched window arcades in two stories spanning the length of its wide façade, decorated with moldings, superimposed pilasters, and rusticated walls. Three gabled porches accentuate the form of the rectangular building, which received the ASA Architectural Conservation Award in 1982. A historic birdcage elevator and large chandelier dominate the interior, which houses 59 boutiques, and is also used as an event space.

Here are the two beautiful passports without travel.

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