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Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

By Quynh Tran   December 3, 2020 | 08:57 pm PT
Nearly 1,200 bills dating back to the French colonial time over 100 years ago, along with money molds are being displayed at an exhibition in HCMC.
Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

All the items, exhibited at the Vietnam History Museum, are sourced from the private collection of Huynh Tan Thanh, an antique currency collector in Vietnam.

Indochinese bills and coins, issued by the French colonists, were used in Vietnam between 1885 and 1954.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

French Indochinese bills and coins feature French language on its front and feature Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Khmer on the back or sometimes only French.

The five piastre French Indochinese bill (pictured), circulated in 1900, is one of the oldest at the exhibition.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

The 20 piastre bill was used from 1942-1945 and features the Hue flag tower and main gate to the south of Hue Imperial Citadel.

The citadel is a UNESCO heritage site in the central town of Hue, home to the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), Vietnam's last royal family.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

After 1945, the French recaptured Indochina. Not until 1947 were new currency bills issued. By 1952, the Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos National Emission Institute issued separate banknotes for each country though they could still be used across all three.

The portrait of Bao Dai (pictured), the last emperor of Vietnam (reigning 1926-1945), appeared on a number of bills during this period.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

After the successful August Revolution against the French and Japanese colonial rule in August 1945, the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam issued Vietnamese banknotes nationwide to assert the country's independence and sovereignty, ensure financial resources, and serve production as well as combat purposes.

They were used from 1945 to 1951 in the liberated northern and central regions, including banknotes and coins.

Banknotes were decorated by famous artists like Nguyen Do Cung, Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Huyen, Mai Van Hien, Bui Trang Chuoc, Le Pha and Huynh Van Gam to depict Vietnamese people, historic relics and landscapes.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

Among Huynh Tan Thanh's collection, the most valuable are three money molds for the period 1947-1948.

In the picture are the 20 dong mold and 20 dong bill.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

After the Geneva Agreement in 1954, the National Bank of Vietnam recovered all the old currency in the liberated localities.

The Geneva Agreement, which led to France withdrawing troops from Indochina, including Vietnam, divided Vietnam into North and South with the 17th Parallel. The division last for 21 years along with the great struggle for national reunification.

In the photo is the five hao and one dong bills circulated in 1958. One dong is equivalent to 10 hao.

After reunification of the country in 1975, following the end of the Vietnam War, the State issued the national currency used for all regions in the country, marking a new period of development.

Exhibition casts an eye on Vietnam’s past currency

Nguyen Thanh Lam, 30, living in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City reads the notes on each French Indochinese bill.

"I love collecting antique coins, so I went to the exhibition to expand my knowledge. The French Indochinese banknotes are not only rich in denominations but also historical value," Lam said.

The exhibition also introduces documents released for money issuance or recovery; samples of counterfeit money in the past; money from the National Front for the Liberation of Southern Vietnam; banknotes of the South Saigon government; and even current polymer currency for viewers to have an overall scope on their development.

The exhibition at the Vietnam History Museum, No.2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1 takes place until March 31, 2021.

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