North Vietnam, 90th Birthday of Lenin, April 22nd, 1960, Michel Nr. 125-126, Block 1; Given the logistical and military support the Soviet Union gave to the North Vietnamese Government during the war with the French it is understandably that Vietnamese postal authorities would issue postage stamps and a souvenir sheet to honor one of the key leaders of communism, Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov (better know as Lenin). The souvenir sheet is also a sign that the North Vietnamese postal authorities were looking to open themselves to the collector market in order to gain valuable foreign currency.

Two single stamps, perforated 11, were issued in the denominations of 5 xu and 12 xu. It is not clear what the 5 xu value was supposed to cover but the 12 xu value was intended for the standard national letter rate.

Hers is the mint set.

Rare single franking of the 12xu stamp used on an air-mail letter sent from Nguyen Thai to a mining school in East Germany. Mailed in July of 1960. The standard international letter rate to fellow socialist countries like Czechoslovakia was reduced from 20xu to 12 xu on March 1st, 1960, so the postage was in fact correct. Apparently the postal clerk in East Germany was still working of old records as he/he incorrectly stamped the envelope with a red “Nachgebuehr” (=Postage Due) and the blue handwritten “88” which indicated the exact postage due.

Another rare single franking of the 12xu value from May of 961 on an air-mail letter sent from Hanoi to Russia. Moscow airport cachet and Moscow arrival cancel on the reverse.

Below is a very rare letter (ex Klewitz) that features all the entire set plus the souvenir sheet on a postally used cover to West Germany. The cover is mailed registered and by express mail so it caries an overall franking of 448 xu or 4.48 Dong. This is the only postally used cover with Souvenir Sheet Nr. 1 that the editor has ever seen. Please note that the color of the single 5 xu stamp and that used imperforated on the souvenir sheet are different.

Here is a First Day Cover featuring the set locally mailed in Hanoi. Over-franked as the domestic letter rate amounted to 12 xu only.

Spectacular franking of three Lenin stamp sets on a registered letter from September 1961 from Hanoi to the Director of Postal Services in Samneua in Laos. Laos arrival cancel. Handwritten comment “Post is closed” and French handstamp “Retour A L’Envoyeur” (=Return to Sender). The letter was finally returned to Hanoi in March of 1962 (as per the arrival cancel on the reverse).

Mixed franking made up of the 5xu Lenin stamp plus the 1xu Worker Party stamp paying the correct 6xu postcard rate to Czechoslovakia after March 1st, 1960.

Letter with the one stamp of the 5 xu value to Klewitz in West Germany. The cover also is an interesting mixed currency franking of old and new Dong and a mixed franking of service stamps (Mot Cot Pagoda issue) and regular stamps. It is not quite clear how the sender obtained the service stamp as their distribution was limited to Government Bodies, foreign embassies and NGO’s (like the Red Cross for example). The 200 Dong in pre March 1959 stamps were devalued 1,000:1 which meant that in 1965 thew were worth 20 xu. The overall franking hence amounted to 1.12 Dong which is just a whisker above the required tariff of 1.10 Dong for a standard registered letter to Western Europe.

The souvenir sheet was issued in very small numbers (10,000) and, given that a number of these sheets will have perished in the decade long war with the Americans, by the humid climate or other mishaps a smaller number will be available to collectors now. This souvenir sheet will hence become one of the keys for a complete standard North Vietnam collection. It is available printed on white (left) and slightly tanned paper (right)

Michel values a used souvenir sheet lower than a mint one. This is highly ignorant of actual market availability. The editor has scoured online Websites such as E-Bay and Delcampe for decades and has found consistently that souvenir sheets offered in mint outnumber the ones offered “used” at least 100:1. Unless virtually no collector collects used Vietnam stamps it therefore follows that a used souvenir sheet should be worth multiples of the mint one. Also, all used sheets that are offered are cancelled using the Hanoi First Day Canceler. Apart from the Klwitz letter depicted above the editor has never seen any used souvenir sheet that carried a standard date canceler.

Beware of bogus cancels that are sometimes applied to make a poorly preserved souvenir-sheet more attractive. Below is a Lenin sheet that carries an illegible cancel that is clearly not from Vietnam.

Rare express mail letter mailed to Klewitz in February 1970. It holds five of the 12 xu Lenin stamps. The letter was franked with 1.58 Dong wich was 2 xu shy of the correct tariff of 1.60 but apparently this was not noticed by the postal clerk. Numerical arrival cancel from Fulda on the reverse.

Colorful mixed franking from 1960 featuring stamps from five different sets from the time. The overall postage amounted to 30xu. The letter rate to Western countries, such as England, amounted to 50xu as of March 1st, 1960. So, while this letter was under-franked this was not noted by the postal clerks.

Very rare express mail letter sent to Klewitz in August of 1977. It carries some of the im-perforated dragon fly stamps plus other im-perforated pagoda and orchid stamps. There are also two of the 12 xu Lenin stamps. Im-perforated stamps on postally used cover are very rare. The overall postage amounted to 2.20 Dong. Bad Nauheim transit and Fulda arrival cancels on the reverse.

Rare registered express mail letter sent to Klewitz in December of 1977. The letter carries the entire October revolution set twice plus some early NVN stamps for an overall postage of 4.01 Dong. Late use of the 5 xu Lenin stamp. Fulda arrival cancel and Fulda green custom stamp on the reverse.

Registered letter sent to Klewitz in June of 1982 sent from Nguyen Trai. It carries the National Union Congress set plus the 5 xu Lenin stamp for an overall postage of 11.04 (including the 8 Dong from the red free frank on the back). Green Fulda custom cachet on front.

Rare registered express mail letter sent from Quan 5 (Cholon) to Klewitz in March of 1981. The letter carries two complete 1980 Lenin sets plus the Lenin stamp from 1960. The 1 Dong stamps show both color variations of the star (orange and grey-ocre). The overall postage amounted to 13.90 Dong. Fulda arrival cancel on the reverse. Green Fulda custom cachet on front.

Registered letter sent from Nguyen Trai to Klewitz in June of 1982. The letter carries parts of the Bird of Prey and the Pigeon set plus other NVN stamp for an overall postage of 10.86 Dong (including the red free frank for 7.7 Dong). Late use of the Lenin stamp in front. Green Fulda custom cachet on front.

Registration Nr. 100370

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