Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ARVN Photo Postcard

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) issued a number of different postcards for use by troops. Many had civilian scenes, such as women buying fruit at a market on the picture side. The reverse typically had a military insignia or printed KBC number.

This postcard has a distinctly military theme with text reading, "Practice well, study well to build strong armed forces." It was sent from KBC 4918, the military boot camp in Nha Trang. According to the contents, the sender was drafted on 22 May 1965, at age 30. He received a stipend for the difference in pay between his regular job as his duty as a Private in the Army.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fake LKV Cover on eBay

Spanish eBay seller "annflo" listed a Lien Khu V cover with what are surely bogus Ho Chi Minh and Family Left Behind stamps, surcharged with new values. The cover is meant to be an artifact of the Viet Minh in central Vietnam during the early 1950s. Starting bid price is a steep $180. View the auction here.

Update: The cover did not sell when it was initially listed. On Dec 22nd this cover was re-listed with a starting price of $150.

Another similar cover was posted on Dec 15. It has what appear to be five bogus Family Left Behind stamps a cachet depicting Ho Chi Minh and a a North Vietnamese flag. View auction here. Update: the cover was relisted Dec. 25 at $99 after not selling. After not selling again, the cover was listed for $90 on January 5th.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Where did the name Imnaha come from?

I was asked today why I use "Imnaha" as my online name. I get asked that quite a bit, and no, it doesn't have anything to do with Vietnam.

Imnaha is a small town of around 30 people in the canyon lands of far northeastern Oregon, not far from Hell's Canyon and the Snake River. The Nez Perce tribe wintered in these canyons and spent time their summers in the beautiful Wallowa mountains. I grew up near Joseph, Oregon on the banks of Wallowa Lake.

When I first ventured online in the early 1990s with my newly minted 14,400 baud modem, I needed a username for the bulletin board systems I wanted to dial into. This was before Mosaic and Netscape were available to surf the nascent web.

Imnaha seemed like a good choice because to me, it epitomized a frontier and a small community like these bulletin boards. It was also a unique name that was unlikely to be used by others as I signed up for other sites. I also liked that there was a philatelic tie-in of a mail boat, called the Imnaha that traveled up and down the Snake River delivering mail to small outposts until it ran aground.

I try to make the 30 mile drive from Joseph down to Imnaha when I'm in that neck of the country visiting friends and family. I joked about buying the post office that was recently for sale on the banks of the Imnaha River, but I don't think my family is ready to live 2 hours from the nearest traffic light.

Crab Insignia Cover

Does anyone have any information about the crab insignia on this cover? Was it used by a paramilitary unit? The return address is Lien Doan 84, Tong Doan 8, Box 20, Vung Tao. The postmark is from Vung Tao in 1968.

1958 Official Naval Cover to Mayor of Saigon

This cover contains a letter to the Mayor of Saigon from the Commanding Officer of the Navy Shipyard. "Hai Quan Cong Xuong" was the main shipyard by the Saigon River not far from the South Vietnamese Naval Headquarters.

The shipyard was a large complex with several departments responsible for maintenance and repair.

"Cong Van" handstamped at the top of the cover means "Official Document". Written beneath the handstamp is, "001/HQCX/HC/QT" where "001" is presumably a document number, "HQCX" is the abbreviation for Hai Quan Cong Xuong - the Naval Shipyard, 'HC" is not known - perhaps a department abbreviation, and finally, "QT" for Quan Thu, or military mail.

As the cover is unaddressed, it most likely was included in a larger envelope (think interoffice mail) or hand delivered.

In the enclosed memo, Naval Commander Tran Van Chon requests the official price of firewood (coal?) for February 1958 from the Mayoral office. This information was needed for his accounting department in their compilation of the monthly budget.

The request was signed by Navy Lieutentant Tran Van Bieu, Executive Officer of the Naval Accounting Department.

Tran Van Chon went on to become the Secretary of the Navy, a position he held up to the last days of the war. He refused to be evacuated and was imprisoned a number of years until Admiral Emo Zumwalt and other senior retired officers petitioned for this release and immigration to the U.S. Apparently, Chon and Zumwalt had formed a strong relationship during the war. They were reunited for a few years before Admiral Zumwalt passed away. Admiral Chon is nearing 80 years old.

Thanks for Vinh Nguyen for his assistance with this cover.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Bao Dam Registered Lettersheet

This cover is a familiar lettersheet with an "M3 type" pre-printed stamp that allowed it to be sent via the Vietnamese military postal system without additional postage. In this case, the cover was dispatched from KBC 4820 from a soldier to his wife. There is nothing special about the contents.

The interesting aspect is the Bao Dam (registered) marking. The military free-frank privilege did not cover additional services like express mail or registration. What is going on here? My guess is that the sender worked at the military post office (or had a friend who did) and took advantage of access to the Bao Dam handstamp to upgrade his mail. It looks like it worked, as no postage due was visibly assessed on arrival.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

More Bogus NVN Material on eBay

EBay seller 'archiguy' continues to list bogus North Vietnamese "local" stamps. Here's one from a current auction listed as a "Vietnam ANNAM Local stamp 1954 LKV 5 Ho Chi Minh".

Previous contacts to this seller to acknowledge these items as fake only resulted in him making his bidders' IDs private - presumably to prevent anyone from warning them to use caution. The seller has positive feedback so winners are either unaware of the item status or they are happy paying decent sums for bogus items.

Caveat emptor.

Registered Vietnamese Ranger Cover with "Repaired" Label

This cover was sent by a Vietnamese Ranger (Biet Dong Quan) via registered mail from KBC 4926. This was the Duc My Ranger Training Center in Nha Trang. The other number is the soldier's military number or So Quan. The stamps are cancelled with a military Quan Buu postmark 1 October 1968.

The most interesting aspect of this cover is the label affixed at the bottom. It was applied in transit by the (non-military) post office. The text reads, "the parcel was damaged when received," and "the cover has been repaired."

The label is unusual in that it contains both Vietnamese and French text at a date when French was no longer an official language. By 1968 French was taught in school as foreign language but most school kids chose English for practicality. Perhaps there was a stockpile of these labels from the 1950s.

Welcome to Imnaha Stamps

Thanks for visiting. I am a student of the conflicts in Vietnam chronicled through postal history, stamps and historical documents. My primary focus spans the Japanese occupation in 1945 through the fall of Saigon in 1975, following all participants.

The topics covered in this blog are mainly military in nature, however anything philatelic or related to Vietnam is fair game.

This blog supplements my website www.imnahastamps.com with short pieces of research, quick notes and other items I find interesting. Some items may make their way into the
Indo-china Philatelist or other philatelic journals.

Thanks to Vinh Nguyen, formerly of the South Vietnamese Navy (Hai Quan), for help with translations.

Please post comments to share information, offer corrections, or to ask questions. Or contact me directly at