North Vietnam, 5th Anniversary of the Guerilla Fighter Mac The Bu o’i (Army Heroine), November 5th, 1956 (Michel Nr. 46-49); Women were an essential part of the war effort and fought side by side with men but often worked in logistics. So, it is not surprising that a female guerrilla fighter who was killed in 1951 was honored immediately after Tran Dang Ninh, whose stamps were issued in July of 1956. The nominals are very high and they appear to cater to international mail and larger domestic parcels. Given the high nominals not many stamps were collected in the 1950’s which explains the much higher prices this set is valued at as compared to other sets from the period. Also the numbers printed must have been lower as the high denomination set of the “Return of the Government”, as no mint sheets remained in the postal archives. So the market distortions, that happened due to late Cotevina sales on other early sets, did not occur for this set and it remains very scarce in mint condition. Catalogue values of €700 (Michel) or $650 (Scott) are excessive though. It usually sells for around $400 on E-Bay in mint condition, higher if the quality is exceptional.

Mint set with margins:

Beware that dangerous counterfeits of 5. Anniversary of Guerilla Fighter Mac Thi Bu’o’i are being offered on E-Bay. If you have browsed through E-Bay lately you may have noticed that an E-Bay member from Taiwan is offering pretty good counterfeits of the Mac Thu Bu’o’i Guerilla Leader set (Michel Nr. 46-49, Scott Nr.43-46) for sale. The set is pretty scarce and hence it is missing in many collections. The seller is offering the stamps as cinderellas and on E-Bay depicts them marked as „Copy“ on the back. Though when you order the stamps the marking on the back is missing making it therefore easily possible to pass on these countfeits as originals. The editor got a set in order to determine the differences between originals and fakes in order to warn the public.
Overall the fakes are pretty well made but there are some tell-tales that allow one to differentiate them from the originals:
-the height of the fakes is 265mm instead of 245mm for the originals
-the inscription is more blurry on the counterfeits and sharper in focus on the originals
-the paper of the counterfeits is thicker than that of the originals
-the perforation on both is pretty close (11.5) but the fake perforation holes on the fakes are much smaller than those of the genuine stamps
-also the perforation of the counterfeits is much duller (shorter) than that of the originals
-the color of the fake 1,000 Dong stamp is pretty close to those of the originals but the other fake stamps are generally darker in color than the genuine stamps
-the background, in the semi-circular medallion behind the portrait, is much darker on the counterfeit 1,000 and 2,000 Dong stamp and lighter on the originals. The background of the fake 4,000 and 5,000 Dong stamps is close to those of the originals but the overall color is still a bit different
The stamps are also offered with a fake Hanoi cancel that is either a copy or an original cancel that was stolen from the post office. From now on this cancel will have to be viewed as highly questionable as it is likely to show up on counterfeit postal history as well.
 Below is an original mint stamp of the 1,000D value (left) and a forged used version with a forged cancel (right), Note the difference in height of the stamps.
Here is the original mint stamp pf the 2,000D value (left) and a forged strip of three with a forged cancel (right). Note the much darker color of the fakes. Clearly, multiples offer no guarantee of originality.
Original mint 4,000D value (left) and forged mint stamp (right). Note the darker color of the forged stamp.
Original mint 5,000D value (left) and forged used version with a forged cancel (right). Again the forgery is darker in color than the original. 
The forger is also not beyond coming up with pure fantasy products that were never issued by postal authorities. Here is a pair of a fantasy 500D value in yellow (again with the forged cancel) and forged souvenir sheets (either imperforated or perforated) that feature four values.
 Genuine postally used specimens are extremely rare as the editor has been able to collect just five specimen in over 25 years of Vietnam stamp collection activity. And this despite purchasing numerous old collections from Eastern Europe over the years and scouring stamp websites and catalogues of auction houses for the same number of years. So Michel’s price of €170 for a postal used set is quite divorced from reality. Scott is more informed as it values a postally used set at $700. Below are two pieces and a single stamp. One piece appears from a package wrapper and another looks like from a large envelope or a fiscal document. Each piece carries a pair of the 2,000D value. The cancel on the white piece looks slightly different than postal cancels. So it is entirely possible that these stamps were also used for fiscal purposes but for now this is just speculation. The cancel on the 4,000D value is unfortunately illegible but is certainly looks like a postally used sample.

Your are most likely to encounter a used set in the form of cancelled to order specimens. These are much more available on stamp websites or auction houses but sellers often trick people in believing that a CTO set costs the same as postally used. So, they advertise the high Scott value for postal use samples and do not mention that Scott values a CTO set only at $100. Michel is again, off the mark, as its value of €50 for a the CTO version is a bit too low. Letters are very rare and only appear once in a blue moon on the market. The most likely value to found on cover is the 1,000D value as it basically almost covered the standard letter rate to Europe for a registered letter. Below is a registered letter sent by the commercial section of the Czechoslovakian Embassy to a company in Prague. It was mailed in December, 1956 or just a little over a month after the stamps were emitted and it carries one copy of the 1,000D value plus other early NVN stamps for a total postage of 1,190 Dong.

Here is a single franking of the 1,000D value sent from Hanoi in July of 1957 to a Chief Doctor at the Charite’ (the largest hospital in the former East Berlin). The 1,000D tariff is somewhat high for a letter that was not registered. The standard international surface rate at the time was 300D (up to 20 grams of weight) and 350D surcharge for air mail (for each 5 grams). The weight of the letter therefore was between 5 to 10 grams. 

Below is a larger envelope from Hanoi in April of 1957 to a ministry in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It is franked with a strip of three of the 1,000D value plus another early NVN stamp for a total amount of 3,300 Dong. Most of these large envelopes either ended up in archives or were destroyed.Very rare!

Very rare single franking of the 2,000D value  from a member of the East German Embassy in Hanoi to a relative in East Germany. The 2,000D franking is, again, pretty high. With the surface rate to East Germany being at 300D (up to 20 grams) and the air mail surcharge at 350D (for every 5 grams) the letter must have weighed around 20 grams. 

Very rare mixed franking sent by Xunhasaba using one of the 2,000D Mac Thi Bu o’i stamp plus one 1,000 Handicraft stamps for an overall postage of 3,000D. Green Dover custom cachet.

This letter most likely has philatelic origins. It is a rare local letter franked with a single 5,000D value. Since the standard local letter rate was a mere 100D this envelope was probably prepared for collectors. Nevertheless it is the only letter with a single franking of this stamp that the editor has ever seen. 

Postally used cover showing a very late usage of the 5,000 Dong stamp in 1973. The Old Dong was devalued on March 1st, 1959 by 1,000:1 which meant that the 5,000 Dong stamp was only worth 5 New Dong in 1973. The overall franking of this registered, express mail letter amounted to 5.16 New Dong (ex Klewitz).

Registration Nr. 100037

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