Spink’s Aug. 17 to 18 auction in Hong Kong features
1,818 lots of coins, medals, notes and ephemera that span the Asian
continent. Among them, 141 are from the Yoshikuni Kobayashi collection
of bank notes from French Indochina and Vietnam.
Kobayashi was born in Japanese-occupied Manchuria during World War
II and spent most of his early years there. When the war ended, he and
his family moved back to Japan to start a new life on the island of
Kyushu. When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Kobayashi was struck by
the similarity in his own past to the defeated South Vietnam. He says
that when Japan lost World War II he was not sure whether his country
would be colonized, invaded, or if it would become another country
entirely, and all the feelings and thoughts that he had then floated
back to him. For this reason, he decided to collect South Vietnamese
bank notes so that he could prove that such a country existed even
when the memories of the war had faded.
One note in particular, the famous “Old Man” note, stands out. It is
a 1,000-dong specimen note issued by the South Vietnamese National
Bank. It has no date but is thought to be from between 1955 and 1956
with the serial number 000 0.000, control number 887.
Connect with Coin World:
It is generally considered one the most attractive notes in the dong
currency series. The face of the multicolor note features the old man
in traditional blue native attire and a temple on the right. The back
shows a woman in red costume with a sailing junk at left.
PMG graded it Gem Uncirculated 65 Exceptional Paper Quality and it
has an estimated selling price of $120,000 to $150,000 in Hong Kong
dollars ($15,500 to $19,350 in U.S. funds).
The South Vietnamese dong was created shortly after the country was
formed in 1954 to replace the French Indochinese piastre. On Sept. 22,
1975, after the fall of Saigon, the currency was changed to a
“liberation dong” worth 500 old Southern dong.
Spink says that this note epitomizes the brief period Kobayashi
tried to preserve with his bank note collection. Since he began his
quest, he developed one of the finest collections of Vietnamese notes,
and expanded into notes from other areas of Asia.