BackArts & Culture » Culture » Bưu Hoa Stamp Project Is an Online Chronicle of Vietnam's Philatelic History

Bưu Hoa Stamp Project Is an Online Chronicle of Vietnam's Philatelic History

Among the best ways to learn of a country’s culture and history is looking at its stamp design through the ages. These paper tokens follow their owners’ letters to all corners of the world, serving as the most effective cultural ambassador of a country while perfectly preserving the design influence of the period in history they were created.

During the day, Duc Luong works as an illustrator at an advertising agency in Saigon, but at night, he’s busy researching interesting tidbits and reading old stamp magazines to furnish his pet project Buu Hoa. According to Luong, “Buu Hoa,” meaning postage flower, is an archaic term for stamps, commonly used before 1975. He came across the word in Nghe Thuat Choi Tem (Philately), a 1967 book by Nguyen Bao Tung on the art of stamp collecting and thought that it sounded elegant.

A four-piece set of animal husbandry-themed stamps published in 1962 in North Vietnam.

For a few months now, Buu Hoa has become where the illustrator channels most of his free time, be it to feature a collection of chrysanthemum-themed stamps or type out an interesting anecdote from an old stamp magazine from 1995. There are unfortunately fewer publications dedicated to the philatelic arts nowadays compared with before, but Saigon currently has a small but passionate group of stamp enthusiasts that keep the flame going.

“The information [featured on the page] comes from books and magazines about stamps I found at old book stores,” he tells Saigoneer. “I remember one time I was actually looking for a snack, but went past [a book store] so bought a rare reference book anyway.”

In 1961, the Department of Posts had an idea of doing a special Tet-themed set of stamps, which resulted in two pairs of rooster- and pig-themed stamps released in 1962. Since then, Tet stamps have been a yearly tradition by the department with each year’s release based on the corresponding animal in the Vietnamese zodiac.

His interest in Vietnamese stamps spans many decades, but it mostly lies in the years from 1945 to 1975. Looking at these past stamps, apart from the art style, one might notice the changes in Vietnam’s economy. Stamps used to cost a few xu each while Saigoneers now have to shell out at least VND5,000 for one. A Vietnam dong is equal to 100 xu or 10 hào. Xu and hào, of course, have been obsolete for years due to the country’s rising inflation rates.

Most of the stamps featured on Buu Hoa belong to collections from veteran collectors that he befriended during meetups of the city’s few stamp interest groups. Luong said that sometimes he goes to work early to stop by the Vietnam Stamp Company at 18 Dinh Tien Hoang to talk to stamp collectors. On Sundays, a stamp club also takes place at the Fine Arts Museum. These events connect him with more interesting stamps through the eras while the Facebook page also frequently receives new stamps from readers.

Luong hopes that the time he spent researching, curating and informing through Buu Hoa could turn the page into a helpful resource for other designers to apply in their work. Check out the Buu Hoa project on its Facebook and Instagram.

The very first postage stamp set bearing the name “Viet Nam,” published in 1946.

Related Articles

in Culture

Inside the Bình Thạnh Depot Where Retro Military Knick-Knacks Live

“This furniture has been around for many decades, but you can use them normally without the fear of breaking them. Because they are industrial equipment made for the military or office buildings, they...

in Culture

Vietnam's Cultural Diversity via 3 Versions of Sọ Dừa in Kinh, Chăm, Raglai Folklore

On Sọ Dừa’s birth certificate, how should one fill in the “ethnic group” field?

in Film & TV

[Video] The Absurdist 'Sài Gòn Đẹp Lắm' Music Video That Makes You Question Reality

What in the world is going on here?

in Culture

Đại Việt Kỳ Nhân: When Vietnam's Prolific History Meets Board Game

After copious exchanges with friends from abroad, Tô Quốc Nghị had a flash of realization: just like his friends’ countries, Vietnam has always had a wicked awesome history, but the dull, uninspiring ...

in Culture

An Exploration of H'Mông Fashion Through the Eyes of a Young H'Mông Curator

Combining elements of the traditional and the modern, Hnubflower and her collaborators have brought to life a project to recreate the fashion of many H’Mông communities in provinces across Vietnam.

in Music & Arts

Digital Artist Transports Us Back to Hanoi Tramway’s Halcyon Days

Many Hanoians have seen historical photos of the capital’s lost tramway network, which was inaugurated in 1901. What began as a state-of-the-art electric tramway eventually fell into disrepair in the ...

Partner Content