Saigon man keeps tabs on old receipts and other papers

By Quynh Tran   November 11, 2018 | 09:06 pm GMT+7

What’s in an old receipt? History and memory, says avid Saigonese collector who’s rejected high value offers for his collection.

Saigon man keeps tabs on old receipts and other papers

Huynh Minh Hiep, a 46-year-old Saigon resident, has collected more than 1,000 receipts, administrative documents, train tickets, and other documents that were used in Southern Vietnam, from the French colonial period until 1975 when the country reunified.

"This hobby began in 1993, of collecting items associated with the past lives of Saigonese. I found old papers, texts and documents very interesting. These items reveal the culture and lifestyle of different historical periods."

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Most of the items in his collection are transaction bills used in Saigon before 1975. Each bill is unique in its design, images and content. 

"In one of my hands is an advertising bill for the Bell newspaper in 1961, which had a very large circulation in the south at the time, and in the other hand is a bicycle purchase bill from the 1970s, when these shops were called traders." 

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A 1950s bill from a repair shop on Chaigneau Street (now Ton That Dam Street in District 1). 

Since Saigon was under French control, the content was written in French, Vietnamese and Chinese.

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A Sai Gon-Vinh Long bus ticket from 1971.

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Passenger ticket and baggage check of Air Vietnam.

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Movie tickets and flyers of yesteryear.

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Hiep also owns motorbike transfer certficiates, driver’s licenses and other documents.

"The most valuable is the vehicle of the brand Motobecane Pony in 1936 with the original registration card," he said.

"A France ambassador donated this to Ngo Dinh Thuc, brother of President of the Republic of Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem in 1962."

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The oldest piece in his collection is a tax inspection notice sent to a resident of Binh Hoa Commune in Gia Dinh Province in 1891, when that person turned 18.

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A student card issued in Saigon in 1957 has all its information and picture still intact.

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Emperor Bao Dai's reward notice to Deputy Governor of Ham Thuan (Binh Thuan Province) in 1942. The document was written in French and Chinese, and bore the seal of the last king of Vietnam.

Bao Dai was the 13th and final Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), the last dynasty of Vietnam.

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A notice of cancellation for old currencies circulated to replace them with new notes, issued by the Indochina Bank in 1901, has been framed and preserved.

Hiep’s collection includes motorcycles, money, pottery, and other items.

"I also have common items like cigarettes, soft drinks, glasses, cups... from half a century ago. Every item is a memory of a time that is worth cherishing. A lot of people want to buy my items for high prices. However, I've never sold anything that I have dedicated a lot of time to search for."

 
 
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