Is there another word whose mention so immediately conjures up romantic visions of paradise in the Far East?
Gilded palaces and ornate temples. Buddhist monks in simple robes. Exotic cuisine. Intricate handicrafts. A complex culture influenced by India, China, Cambodia, and other parts Southeast Asia yet uniquely its own.
A land that no Western power could colonize. A people who are proud of their culture yet welcome ideas and people from everywhere.
Siam is, of course, now known as Thailand, and has been since 1949. Still, we continue to talk about "old Siam" in relation Thai antiques and vintage Thai collectibles, probably because it sounds so much more romantic. (And perhaps because we wish we'd been invited for tea by one of the famous authors who stayed at Bangkok's luxurious Oriental Hotel!)
Antique, vintage, and old Siam items that are very collectible these days include Siam silver jewelry, Siam niello jewelry, nielloware, old Siam maps and ephemera, temple rubbings, posters, Thai celadon, puppets, statues and amulets.
In particular, Siam silver jewelry and Siam niello jewelry are growing in popularity - some speculate that collectors have turned to Siam jewellery because collectors have bid up the price of vintage Mexican silver jewelry.
Modernist silver jewelry is hot, especially Mexican pieces by William Spratling and American pieces by Art Smith. But prices are getting high, so some collectors are searching for Siam jewelry, the tourist jewelry made in Thailand in the 1960s and later. Pieces are usually silver with black enamel decorations of Siamese gods, boats, and other traditional designs....
Certainly, it is still possible to find good value in collectible Siam silver jewelry and Siam niello jewelry. How long will that continue?