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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stamp Investment Tip: Cochin China (Scott #1-5)


There are some stamp-issuing entities which issued only a few stamps, making it simple (though not necessarily inexpensive) to form complete collections of them. Such is the case with Cochin China, a former French colony encompassing the southern third of Vietnam, for which the French issued five stamps from 1886-88. Stamps of the colony were superseded by those of Indo-China in 1892.

The five (Scott #1-5) are all French Colonies General Issue stamps surcharged for use in the colony, and though printing quantities are not known, I would estimate that they were produced in the low thousands (for #1, the scarcest), to between ten and twenty thousand for the others. Scott '11 Catalog values for the stamps unused total $430.-.

In addition to the basic stamps, six surcharge errors are known. The inverted surcharge of the 5c on 25c yellow on straw (surcharge type "b"- Scott #3a; CV= $200.- ) is the most common, and perhaps a few hundred exist. The five surcharge errors of #4- the 5c on 25c black on rose, surcharge type "c"- are all very rare to extremely rare. All of the surcharge errors should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.

All stamps of this former colony are worthwhile investments, especially the surcharge errors, which have been overlooked because of their obscurity and because they rarely come up for auction. Stamps of Cochin China have multiple market appeal to collectors of French Colonies, Indochina, and Vietnam.


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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