North Vietnam, Return of the Government, March 1st, 1956 (Michel Nt. 35-38); With international mail becoming a little more common in the second half of the 1950’s, primarily to Eastern Europe, the Postal authorities started to produce higher nominals that were basically intended for international letters and large domestic packages. Stamps were produced at the Vietnam National Bank Printing Works in Hanoi and perforation was, again, pretty poor. Stamps without any perforation faults are very rare, so do not expect perfection here. Sheet size was 50 stamps. Lighter and darker color shades exist depending on how much paint was guided to the printing plate during each printing run. Four values in the value of 1,000D, 1,500D, 2,000D and 3,000D were issued. Given the high cost to acquire them in 1956, these stamps were initially very rare and consequently priced high by all catalogue makers. That was until Cotevina, the Government outlet for philatelic products, started selling left over mint sheets in the 1990’s from Government archives. This only applied to the three highest values as apparently the 1,000D value had all been used up. So, the key mint value in the set is the 1,000D value as that covered the standard airmail later rate to Europe and hence was used most often. Michel and Scott appear to have no clue about this as they both value the 1,000D value mint the lowest in the set, which is totally divorced from market reality and they stubbornly keep the cost of a mint set too high. A mint set can usually be acquired for $100 or less on E-Bay.
Clearly, not a lot of the higher values were used as it is the higher nominals that are easily obtainable in mint condition but not used. Postally used complete sets are nearly impossible to find. In over 25 years of Vietnam collection activity the editor has only been able to put together the set below off cover that looks postally used. Since sometimes the cancels only hit the corner of the stamp one cannot be sure if all cancels are legitimate. On the other hand, it appears, that for this set no cancelled to order sets were sold by the postal authorities making any used specimens very rare. Scott values used values higher than mint ones which is correct but the proportion of value difference is not nearly enough. Michel appears to have no idea about the scarcity of these stamps postally used and its price of less than $100 borders on the ridiculous.
Because the higher values were basically only used on large packages virtually all of them were put into the waste paper basket or recycled. Here is a very rare piece from a package wrapper that was apparently destined to China (notice the Chinese writing on it) and that features seven of the 3,000D stamps plus another 2,000D value of the The-Huy Bridge issue for a total of 23,000D.
Letters with these stamps are also rare and basically always feature the 1,000D value, which was the standard letter rate to Europe at the time. Below is a letter with an interesting decal sent on August, 1957 from the East German Embassy in Hanoi to East Germany.
Here is another 1,000D franking that was sent in December 1957 to the president of Czechoslovakia. It still contains the original New Year’s greeting card. The “par Avion” typewritten addition makes clear that the rate paid was for air mail transport.
Very rare official letter sent in May of 1957 to the Red Cross in Geneva featuring two of the 1kg rice Production and Thrift service stamps plus one of the 80D Agrarian Reform service stamp (thick paper) and 1,000D Return of the Government stamp in a mixed currency franking (kg rice and Dong) and mixed standard/official stamp franking.
This is a rare local letter carrying one 1,500D value that is very likely of philatelic origin. The rate paid was well above the required domestic standard letter rate (100D) and the envelope looks like it never travelled through the mail. Nevertheless still a rare sample of the 1,500D value on cover.
Here is an extremely rare surviving package wrapper by a an importer and exporter of books and periodicals (probably the precursor to Xunhasaba) sent in 1959 to France that carries one of the 1,500D values and two of the 1959 air mail stamps for a total franking of 1,540 Dong. The editor has never seen another package wrapper carrying the Return of the Government series.
Registration Nr. 100036