Democratic Republic of of Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh; September 2nd., 1946 (Michel VM Nr.56-60); These were the first stamps entirely designed by the Viet Minh. Prior to 1946 the Viet Minh used Indochinese stamps and simply over-printed them with the new country name and/or values. The territory controlled by the Viet Minh was still very limited and general postal volume small in the fall of 1946 so postal usage of them was very limited.
They most often appear mint and more rarely in cancelled to order condition. Postally used copies are extremely rare. There are also some philatelic covers that bear these stamps. Very few genuine postally used covers survive today and therefore they are extremely rare and expensive. The stamps were produced in panes of 50. Below are scans of complete sheets of all three values issued without surcharge:
3 Hao red-orange (Michel Nr. 57)
9 Hao yellow, ochre (Michel Nr. 58)
The Viet Minh also issued two surcharged values that were supposed to benefit the defense of the country (4 Hao blue-green plus 6 Hao and 6 Hao grey-brown plus 9 Hao), but given the poverty of the population they found very little postal use. Michel reports that the 6 Hao plus 9 Hao value comes in two plate versions. The new plate is by 1mm larger than the old plate. Below the stamp in the middle is the first printing and the stamp to the right represents the larger stamp.
Below is a complete mint pane of the 4 Hao surcharged value. Also featured is a piece (most likely from a large envelope or package) bearing a rare mixed franking of Michel Nr. 56, 59 and 2b used during the first Indochinese War. It was cancelled on June 17th, 1951 in Ha Giang, the far north of Vietnam along the border with China, which at that time was already fully controlled by the Viet Minh.
Piece with mixed franking of Michel Nr. 56, 59 and 2b
Michel values mint and used stamps of values without surcharge the same. However mint values outnumber cancelled ones by at least 100 to 1, so this pricing does not reflect the relative scarcity of used stamps in the market. Michel values the surcharged values of 4 and 6 Hao double the mint price but even that is nowhere near what they should be valued at. Below are blocks of four that were most likely cancelled to order with the “Hanoi Chanh Thau Cuc” cancel probably on October 21st, 1946 (no year insert).
Single 3 Hao stamp cancelled with a rare red military cancel.
Philatelically inspired cover bearing all values of the series cancelled in Tourane (Da Nang) on November 11, 1946.
Philatelic letter prepared by “Maison Vietnam Philatelique” using one of the 9 Hao HCM stamps along with some Viet Minh overprints. The letter was cancelled with the Hanoi Trung Uong Bac Bo canceller on November 8th, 1946.
Very rare local letter front that is of military origin. The “T.B.S.” on top left stands for “Thu Binh Si” or “Military Mail”. It was sent by a student at Le The Hien High School in Truong Thuy in Cam Lo District located in Interzone IV to Quang Binh in the Red River Delta. The red circular “IV5” documents to origin of the letter from Interzone IV. The recipient was Tran Yet of Company 34, Artillery Battalion 888, Regiment 18 in Quang Binh.The letter was cancelled by a black circular cancel on which the postman was supposed to enter the date manually but this often did not happen. Given the 1 Hao franking along with the manuscript censor marks (red crosses) the letter most likely was sent in spring of 1951 and it represents a one hundred uprating of the 1 Hao stamp or 10 Dong. Inflation was rampant in the territory controlled by the Viet Minh and the Viet Minh Government did not have the resources to re-print stamps continuously and hence simply sold stamps at multiples of 10 to 100 tims of the actual face value.
Very rare local letter franked correctly with 3 Hao mailed in Tourane (Da Nang) on December 1, 1946 (just a few days before the Viet Minh uprising against the French in Hanoi on December 19th, 1946)
Exceedingly rare Viet Minh letter using a home-made adversity envelope mailed on March 28th of 1950 from Than Nguyen to Haiduong. While franked with only 9 Hao the stamp was actually sold up-rated 10:1 so was worth 9 Dong on the day of sending. This is the only cover known to exist that documents the 9 Dong rate that was in force for only a short time between the 1st and 2nd quarter of 1950.
Sample of the 1 Dong banknote issued by the Viet Minh in 1947, when they were basically being tolerated by the French colonial force.
Sample of the 5 Dong banknote from 1947