The original rose coloured silk envelope or pouch, bearing an address label in the hand of King Mongkut of Siam, in English and Siamese to Cheang Sam Teo: “To Honourable Some Tam Esquire, farmer of Opium and Spirit at Singapore the own[er] of Barque … Hamlett …[?]”, with three column Chinese directions for delivery on the back..Rose or red coloured silk, 3 x 8 inches, in good condition, one stamped seal, label worn, with silk drawstring. Bangkok [Siam, 1850s].
Rare. These silk pouches are known in black, gold, red, and blue. On the verso the Chinese writing addresses a captain (船主) by the name of Tan XX, perhaps of a boat named Joo Chong 裕松 , for him to deliver the letter to the secretary (财副) of the “Opium Lord” (亚片大公). The barque Hamlet was owned by Cheang Sam Teo and Teo Kit in the mid 1850s. By 1860 the barque had been sold to Syme and Co. The inscription in Thai reads “Please give this to the Chinese “Cheang Sam Teo” opium and alcohol tax collector of Singapore”. King Maha Mongkut, also known as Rama IV, ruled Siam (now Thailand) from 1851 to 1868, during which time he successfully negotiated with Western powers and modernized his nation. Mongkut ascended the throne upon the death of his half-brother, Jetta (Rama III), after spending 27 years as a Buddhist monk. Educated and multi-lingual, Mongkut negotiated with the United States and European powers to open Siam to international trade.