NOTES FROM TAIWAN
1954 NORTH VIETNAM REFUGEES ISSUE
One of the more scarce issues of Taiwan was released on October 1, 1954. It is the semi-postal issue to raise money to help the Chinese that were trapped in North Vietnam at the time of the Geneva Accord of April 27, 1954. Many of the Chinese wanted to move to the South before the proposed elections slated for 1956 (which of course never happened). To assist in this humanitarian effort, the set was issued. Fig. 1a .40 + .10, Fig. 1b, 1.60 + .40 and Fig. 1c 5.00 + 1.00. The amount on the left was the postage, that on the right the contribution to the charity effort. The issued quantity is below the figures. In the case of the 5.00 value, a total of 9,342 were unsold or damaged and destroyed. The set was only on sale for four months - October 1, 1954 to February 1, 1955 when they were no longer valid for postage. (I have yet to find a cover where postage due was charged for late usage!)
The set was printed by the Intaglio (engraved) process in sheets of 100, four panes of 25. This means that cross gutter pairs, blocks would have been available. Just another challenge for this set! I have not seen the specimen set, but it should consist of two printed (not hand stamped) characters for "Specimen". This was just before the two bars became the standard, and just after the earlier hand stamped "specimen" characters. As to the first day covers - I have not seen an example, but suspect they were privately prepared on blank envelopes. Perhaps someone can confirm this.
Fig. 1a Fig. 1b Fig. 1c
1,800,000 150,000 50,000 (9,342) 40,658
As can be seen from the above, there were a possible of 40,658 unused sets available. The current value of the mint set (it was issued without gum) is selling for around US$250. It is not surprising that the scarce used set is selling in the neighborhood of $200, that is if you are lucky enough to find one offered. The mint sets are readily available, the used sets are not. Many years ago, I finally acquired the set the hard way - the low value first, middle value next, then finally after several years, the high value.
It is interesting to look at the rates in October, 1954 to determine the probably usage of the values.
Ordinary letter .40 for each 20 grams
airmail .60 for 20 grams, 1.00 for aerogramme
Postcard .20 each
Registered fee 1.20 (to be added to the postage amount, i.e. 1.60 for an ordinary registered letter)
A. R. acknowledgement of receipt fee was set at 1.20 to be added to the service, (i.e. .40 postage, registered fee 1.20, A.R. fee 1.20 for a total of 2.80)
Express mail Ordinary .40, registered express 1.60 (fees to be added to the piece mailed)
Ordinary letter surface mail - 1.40 first 20 grams, .80 each additional grams
Postcard surface mail - .80 each
Airmail letter 5.00 per 10 grams
Airmail postcard 2.50 each
Registered fee 2.00
A.R. fee 1.50
Ordinary express 3.00
Special rates to Hong Kong and Macao:
Ordinary letter surface mail - .40 first 20 grams, .40 each additional 20 grams
airmail - 2.50 per 20 grams
Postcard surface mail - .20
airmail - 1.20 each
In 1970 at a stamp club meeting in Taipei, I met a collector that had specialized in this set of stamps (as well as several others) that he liked. At that time I did not appreciate covers as much, unlike later years where postal markings, cancels and usage became more interesting than just the stamps. I can now appreciate fully the collection of the various rates and the usage as applied to a single stamp issue. In the case of this set, I have of course seen several copies of the lower value used for ordinary mail. However, when it comes to the usage of the middle and top values - still waiting!
What started this rekindled interest in this issue was the discovery of an interesting postal marking used to advertise the set of stamps and encourage their purchase. Figure 2a and 2b is the front and back of a cover used in Taipei December 16, 1954.
Fig. 2a Fig. 2b
On the cover was the 30 character hand stamp (some characters very faint) fig. 3 meaning: The North Vietnam refugees are in deep hot water and need a helping hand by the mother country brothers and sisters. Please buy the semi-postal stamps to help the refugees.
Since this is the only example I have of the chop, it is impossible to say if it was used by other post offices or just applied in Taipei. There may very well be other markings to encourage sales - check your collections and see it you have others. This is one of those issues that could be worked up into a very nice one frame exhibit, showing the stamp possibilities as well as the actual usages and related markings. Have fun in the chase!