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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Annam and Tonkin

Before the French began issuing stamps for its colony of Indochina in 1889, it initially utilized French Colonies stamps, and later surcharged these stamps for use in Annam and Tonkin (now Northern and Central Vietnam) and Cochin China (Southern Vietnam). I favor all stamps of both Annam and Tonkin and Cochin China, as well as the better issues of Indochina, as they have appeal to collectors of both Vietnam and French Colonies.

Focusing on Annam and Tonkin, since the A & T stamps are handstamped surcharges (and therefore subject to fakery, as are all overprinted stamps), I recommend those which are costly enough to purchase conditional on expertization. These include some of the better surcharge varieties, the "Hyphen between 'A' and 'T' " Surcharges (Scott #7-9, which range in Scott '11 Cat. Value from $ 210.- to $ 550.-), and the rare unissued 5c on 2c Brown on buff (Scott #9Note- Scott '11 CV = $ 7,500.-). Printing quantity information is unavailable for these stamps, but it is likely that fewer than 2,000 of each of Sc. #7-9 were issued, and that fewer than 100 the unissued 5c on 2c were prepared.

Vietnam is a nation of 86 million people which is in transition from a command economy to a market-driven one. It is still a relatively poor country, with an annual GDP of $ 280 billion. Deep poverty, defined as a proportion of the population living under $1 per day, has declined significantly and is now proportionally smaller than that of China, India, and the Philippines. Annual GDP growth has been impressive, averaging about 7.5% over the past five years, and it is likely that Vietnam will have one of the fastest growing economies over the next several decades. Manufacturing, information technology, and high-tech industries are rapidly growing sectors. Though a relative newcomer to the oil business, Vietnam is now third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, with an output of 400,000 barrels per day.

Interest in the better stamps of Indochina and Vietnam has been upstaged by the recent feeding frenzy of the Chinese stamp market. This relative neglect represents a buying opportunity.

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