We were driving through the landscape in Taiping, Perak, passing by lush green orchards, harmonic residences, while slowly reaching an enormous but humble abode. Welcomed by barking dogs, we entered through the firmly built door. Into a world that to anyone else might just be a dusty heap of stuff; but to Uncle Tan, rich in history and treasure.
Digging up antique gems in 70 year-old Uncle Tan’s spacious attic sounds like a tale too good to be true. Upon gaping at his museum pieces, we instantly understood that, “An antique in itself is a trove of stories, history and reminiscences in the forms of unique collectibles, curious toys and nostalgic ornaments.”
Cycling Malaysia paid a visit to Uncle Tan’s airy garret to explore the story behind this fellow antique collector, who has gathered his collection of fascinating objects he has sourced through the years with the amusing and memorable stories that come along with them.
Born in 1946, Uncle Tan has been collecting antique bicycles and accessories since 1980.
EVERY ANTIQUE TELLS A STORY
Listed from antique bicycles, bike accessories, ornaments, to bike instruments in the attic, Uncle Tan has them from different countries around the world, such as England, Denmark, Germany and China.
Coming from a generation of baby boomers, he was influenced by his friends who shared his mutual interests as antique collectors. They looked for inspiring shops for old-fashioned bicycles and bike accessories over the past years.
Sadly speaking, Generation Y’s obligation for traditional collections is subtly fading away. Uncle Tan described to us that, “The cycling world to me, was like a magical land. Correspondingly, it was where all bicycle -related products were produced from.” Not only has he been working in the bicycle industry for more than 40 years, but he has also spent about four decades indulging himself in the amazingness of antique bicycles and bicycle accessories.
Throughout his journey, he has encountered bargains and purchases through antique bicycles, accessories buyers and collectors. Remarkably, it is described as the antique trade in the antique world.
Sadly speaking, Generation Y’s obligation for traditional collections is subtly fading away.
It was an eye-opener as Uncle Tan believed that every object should be appreciated for its aesthetic quality but not for its monetary value. For instances, antique buyers would approach Uncle Tan for their keen interests regardless of the prices of his antique collections. He also added that, “Buyers are willing to pay, no matter how high the prices are.”
However, Uncle Tan would not easily let his precious collections go simply because of the limited quantities but selling the additional pieces away is an exception. “I would be grateful to have other people who value antique pieces like me, which expounds that I am open to anyone who seeks for bicycle-related items.” Uncle Tan noted. Occasionally, he would barter some of his collections for his desired items from other collectors, and likewise. In the bicycle antique sphere, Uncle Tan relishes himself in admiring and exchanging his collections with other people who are ardent as him. To him, antique is his favourite language. In the same way, exchanging ideas of antique collectibles is their favourite subject.
The artistic beauty and quality of each object speak for themselves. In addition, Uncle Tan is often invited to cycling events in Taiping such as antique bike exhibitions. Being a cyclist himself, he also rides on his antique bike during certain events. On normal days, he cycles around his neighbourhood too. It holds no surprise to him that his bicycle has become the attention of the whole town. Passers-by would request for a picture or two.
Within the bounds of delights, there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction Uncle Tan has clutched in every part of his bicycle antique escapade. Other than his strong interest and enthusiasm, he has also put in his utmost effort and hard work along the way to attain a treasury of bicycle-related bits and pieces.
We awed in silence. Uncle Tan’s attitude was as generous and spirited as his collection stories he had created. He ended with an influential line, “I will keep this going with great vigour!”