Annam & Tonkin - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Annam & Tomkin were two French Protectorates that is located respectively in the central and northern areas of present day Vietnam. The region of Annam came under the French in 1874, although it was nominally ruled by a puppet emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty until it was merged into the newly established State of Vietnam in 1949. In 1954, the region was divided into communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam under the terms of the Geneva Accord. Tonkin became a French Protectorate following the Sino-French War in 1885 and all of Vietnam came under the French who divided it administratively into three territories: the Tonkin protectorate to the North, the Annam protectorate in the Center, and Cochinchina to the South. The whole area of present day Vietnam along with the areas of Cambodia and Laos was known as French Indo-china from 1887 onwards.

Philatelic Profile:

Annam & Tonkin issued only one set of stamps. The Jan 21, 1888 issue was a set of six stamps that were overprints on stamps of French Colonies from the 1881 to 1886 timeframe. The host set was the French Colonies set of fourteen stamps (Scott #46 to #59) showing the Commerce Allegory in different colors and denominations. The first three stamps of Annam & Tonkin were ‘A & T’ and surcharge overprints on the 2c, 4c, and 10c denominations (Scott #47, #48, and #50). Those three stamps catalog in the $80 range for Mint and around the $60 range for Used. The last three stamps of Annam & Tonkin used the same host stamps and denominations as the first three stamps but used ‘A – T’ instead of ‘A & T’ for the overprint. The stamps (Scott #7 to #9) are rare and sought after and catalog in the $775 range for Mint $820 range for Used.

Varieties such as the inverted surcharge, sideways surcharge, and double surcharges do exist and they fetch a huge premium into the 100s. Rarer varieties include surcharge placement differences, double surcharges with one inverted, double with both inverted, etc. A 5c surcharge on the 2c was prepared but not issued. Some of these stamps have reached collector’s hands and those fetch a premium into the $5K range. The stamps of Annam & Tomkin were replaced with those of Indo-China from 1892 onwards.

Numismatic Profile:

The French Protectorate of Annam & Tonkin issued coins individually at different times during the colonial era. The first coins of Annam were French Protectorate of Annam Cast Copper Alloy Phans issued between 1885 and 1888. There were two varieties (KM# 606 and #606a) – the former (25 to 26mm) catalogs for around $30 in VF while the latter (23 to 24mm) catalogs for around $12 in VF. A few other Cast Copper Alloy coins were also in circulation and those catalogs in a similar range. Silver Tiens were also issued and those are rare cataloging upwards of $150 in VF. Bullon Silver Bars (0.7000) with weight inscriptions and Gold Milled Coinage also exist and they fetch a premium well into the 100s in VF. Cast Copper Alloy Phans were also issued during the period from 1916 to 1925 and those are somewhat more common. Milled Coinage Brass Phans and Bullion Silver Bars are other coins of Annam from the same time period. 

The French Protectorate of Tonkin issued a Milled Coinage Zinc 1/600 Piastre Coin (KM# 1) with legend around square center hole in Obverse in 1905. The issue has a mintage of 60M and catalogs for around $8 in VF. Zinc Essais & Pieforts exist and those are rare fetching well into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Artwork from the 19th century and original photographs of the period are good collectible items from the area.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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