North Vietnam, Opening of the Railway from Hanoi to Muc Nam Quan, March 1, 1956 (Michel Nr. 31-34); After the railroad infrastructure in North Vietnam had been relentlessly attacked first by the Viet Minh and later by American bombing raids assisting the French, the Viet Minh began with the reconstruction of the Hanoi line to Quan Nam shortly after the agreement reached at the Geneva Convention in 1954. The coastal line to Quan Nam (a bit south of Da Nang) was reopened on March 1st, 1956. The stamps were again produce at the Vietnam National Bank Printing Works in Hanoi on thin paper and with rather poor perforation. Given high inflation the nominals were higher than in the past with the four stamps showing 100D, 200D, 300D and 500D in value.

The color range of this issue is quite variable as can be seen by comparing these pairs below. It is no so much that different printing colors were used for the various printings but that the color adjustment, that allows more or less color flow to the plate, was adjusted very differently.

Here is the set in blocks of four

In the 1950’s the perforation combs sometimes struck in an irregular pattern like on this pair of the 500D value. Notice that the bottom stamp is quite a bit taller than the top stamp.

As is true for all stamps issued in the 1950 postally used samples are really hard to find. Both, Michel and Scott, value postally used stamps lower than mint ones and based on market availability that makes very little sense. As a  matter of fact valuing a mint set at $/€160 is much too high for this set. One can usually acquire it for around $/€50. That is not true for a postally used set as it is basically never offered. One has to painstakingly  collect individual stamps one by one in order to complete a set. So, a postally used set should cost a multiple of a mint set.

Beware of cancelled to order specimens such as the ones below. They are worth only a fraction of postally used stamps. Remember the catalogue values are for postally used stamps. They are easily recognizable by the typical Hanoi corner cancels that do not show more than 25% of the cancel as it was always struck across four stamps at the same time.

Here is a perforation error on the 100D stamp. It is imperforated on the right.

Complete letters are equally rare and hence hard to find. Below is a local letter than was most likely philatelically inspired .It carries a rate of 110 Dong which does not quite match the 100 Dong rate in force in 1957.It carries one 100D railway stamp.

Mixed franking of the 100D and 500D value on a letter sent in July of 1956 by a member of the East German Embassy to a colleague on East Berlin paying the required air mail rate. Red “Apres Depart” hand stamp on front.

Mixed franking of the 500D railroad value plus the 100D Tran Dang Ninh stamp sent in July of 1956 by a member of the East German Embassy to a colleague on East Berlin paying the required air mail rate.

Here is an interesting letter (ex Klewitz) that features a mixed currency franking. One can see that the Five Year Plan issue was printed attached to each other on one sheet. The letter also nicely illustrates that North Vietnamese stamps retained their validity forever. The 100 Dong railroad stamp from 1956 had been devalued in March of 1959 by 1,000:1, which meant it was only worth 10 xu at the time of use. The overall franking hence amounted to 1.12 Dong which was just a whisker above the require rate of 1.10 Dong.

Mixed currency mailing from the Vietnamese Red Cross to the Red Cross Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland using four stamps denominated in Old Dong (Railroad and Handicraft sets) in the amount of 3,000 Old Dong (worth only 3 New Dong after the 1,000:1 devaluation on March 1st, 1959). Stamps in New Dong were added in the amount of 1.53D were added for an overall postage of 4.53 New Dong. The letter carries also an im-perforated 50xu stamp of the 1962 Flower set. Im-perforated stamps on postally used cover are very rare.

Letter mailed in August 1956 from the Ministry of Public Health in Hanoi to Sofia, Bulgaria. Interesting “Air Mail” cachet on front describing the air route from Hanoi to Canton. The other hand stamp “Apres depart” was applied to signify to the post office that the letter was franked by the sender and hence additional scrutiny regarding the correct postage was in order. Arrival machine stamp dated September 21st, 1956 on the reverse. The letter is franked with two 200D railroad stamps and 500D of the production and thrift issue for a total postage of 900 Dong.

The same franking of 900 Dong was applied on this letter from an employee of the East German Embassy to East Germany. Mailed on October 23rd, 1956.

Letter mailed on June 21st, 1956 from the East German Embassy to East Germany. This one is franked with a pair of 300D railroad stamps for a total postage of 600D.

Here is a postcard mailed on August 2nd, 1956to Czechoslovakia. It is franked with a single 500D railroad issue.

Below is a letter from April 7th, 1956 from hotel in Hanoi to the General Secretary of the National Committee of Korea and Vietnam  in Berlin, East Germany. It is franked with a single stamp 500D railroad and two additional stamps of the land reform issue for a total franking of 570 Dong. So, it appears that letters were only a little bit more expensive than postcards.

Registered letter from Hanoi to Fulda, West Germany (June, 1956). Early letters to the West, especially registered ones, are particularly rare (ex Klewitz). This one is franked with a pair each of the 200D and 500D railroad series plus other early NVN stamps  for a total postage of 1,440 Dong. Fulda arrival cancel.

Below is a registered letter from August, 1956 from the commercial section of the Czechoslovakian Embassy to Chechoslovakia featuring one 300D and two 500D values of the railroad issue along with other early NVN stamps for a total postage of 1,480 Dong.

Letter front with very interesting Hanoi-Gare (Hanoi Railway Station) R-label and very unusual “Hanoi” line cancel. The R-Label must have been a carry over from the departed French administration. Part of a registered letter sent to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Bulgaria. It is franked with three 500D railroad stamps and other early NVN stamps for a total postage of 1,710 Dong.

Here is a letter that features one of the 100 Dong railroad stamps and that shows an interesting mixed currency franking of old and new Dong (ex Klewitz). The railroad stamp on the reverse of 100 Old Dong was worth only 10 xu in 1966 (after having devalued 1,000:1 in March of 1959), so the overall franking of the letter mounted to 1.12 Dong. That was just a tad higher than the required tariff of 1.10 Dong for a registered letter to West Germany.

Registration Nr. 100035

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