We first fell in love with The Past Perfect Collection when we came across their store on River Valley Road. The store specializes in antique colonial furniture that bears the exquisite personal touch of Dutch couple and owners Pieter and Marie-Hélène van Houten, who personally travel to India and handpick original pieces that once adorned the stately colonial mansions. The store is filled with unique pieces that have been restored to its former glory by a team of dedicated craftsmen in India.
In keeping with their passion for artifacts with great stories to tell, The Past Perfect Collection hosts special art and antique exhibitions on occasion that are an interesting blend of art, culture and history. “The British Empire – Journey with the explorers” is an antique maps exhibition curated by cartographer, Wouter de Gier, that is currently available for viewing at The Past Perfect Collection. Marie-Hélène takes a breather with us to discuss this unique meeting of minds.
In addition to the antique colonial furniture and home décor pieces, you have recently been exhibiting an antique map collection in the store. Could you please tell us a little about the collection?
The collection of over 40 genuine antique maps takes the observer on a journey through time to long-gone dominions of the British Empire, including detailed maps of Australia, North America, Southeast Asia and India. With The Past Perfect Collection being focused on antique colonial furniture spanning the British, Dutch and Portuguese era in India, it was only fitting to work with Singapore based antiques map collector, Wouter, to showcase these valuable relics.
How did this collaboration between The Past Perfect Collection and collector/cartographer Wouter de Gier come about?
The British Empire – Journey with the Explorers is a collection of maps curated by cartographer Wouter de Gier and is the first of its kind in Singapore. Being a passionate collector of antique maps, Wouter worked with us to bring together this collection of eye- catching maps that portray the impressive story of the British Empire.
What is the story behind the collection?
The maps were made by some of the most prolific cartographers in history such as Danish royal cartographer Louis Charles Desnos and Louis Brion de la Tour, the royal cartographer to the King of France. Apart from the excellent workmanship, the maps tell the remarkable story of the expansion and decline of the Queen’s empire and are time capsules recalling the colonial era’s cultural significance – a subject that still draws boundless fascination even today.
What is one highlight of the exhibition?
The Carte des l’lndes Orientalis is a rare monumental map of Southeast Asia that was published in 1748 by the noted astronomer Tobias Mayer (1723-1762) by commission of Homann Heirs, the leading map publisher of the 18th century. The enormous map was a prestige publication for the Homann firm and is arguably one of the finest atlas maps published in that era. With twin sets of radiating lines imparting a distinct 3D effect, a splendid cartouche, the traditionally bold Homann hand colour and compiling the latest cartography of its time, the map is an example of the Homann firm at its very best.
Why would the antique maps make great collectors’ pieces?
The immediate visual appeal of these antique maps draws the eye, inviting appreciation for the artistic cartouches, the beautiful calligraphy, fine engravings and other work that went into producing them. The maps are also indelible proof of mankind’s rich history, calling to mind stories of great explorers like Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus whilst being a script of the changes experienced by territories that were once-upon-a-time British. Due to the diverse nature of the collection, there is something for all budgets. All visitors will therefore be able to take home their part of history.
The antique maps exhibition “The British Empire – Journey with the Explorers” will be held at The Past Perfect Collection till 15 June, 2014.
896 Dunearn Road
#02-01D Sime Darby Centre