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Early Notes Of South Vietnam, De La Rue: 1 Dong (South Vietnam, 1956)-Article

Updated: Apr 20

These ornate, post -colonial South Vietnamese banknote represent the 1st denomination of the First Southern Đồng (Series 1955, TDLR). The Southern Đồng was the currency of the now defunct nation of Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Which was first recognized under the 1954 Geneva Conference and was annexed in 1975, by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam).

Early South Vietnamese note are of particular interest to collectors. Not only due to their defunct country status. But also due to their introduction by two separate printers. That being the American printer the Security Banknote Company and the British company Thomas De La Rue, London. Each company produced their own series. Which partially overlapped and complemented each other.

Both types were superseded by the Series 1964, printed by Thomas De La Rue.


The observe right depicts the Hung Vuong Temple, in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). It was originally built in 1927 by the French colonial government, as the Temple du Souvenir Annamite (Annamite Temple of remembrance). As a tribute to the 92,000 Vietnamese soldiers, who fought in WWI. Although it has since been rededicated to the founding Hùng kings of Việtnam.

Above the header reads, the (trans.) "National Bank of Vietnam". While the center lists the note's "One Đồng" face value. Followed by the signatures of the bank's Chief Inspector (Tong-Kiem-Tra) and Treasurer (Thu-Quy Trung-Uong). To the right is a framed watermarked area.

At the footer is a warning to counterfeiters, it reads (trans.) " Penalties of hard labor, for those who counterfeit banknotes, issued by the National Bank of Vietnam". To the upper-right and left of footer is a split serial number (U.2. 289238). The first section to the left, represents the note's batch number.

The remainder of the note features "stucco" underprint with a shifting hue. Underprints of this style were often used by notes printed by Thomas De La Rue. Along the sides are stone columns, with number "1"s near there ends. Outside of this column area is a guilloche underprint.


The reverse depicts the main entrance of the Museum of Vietnamese History, in Saigon. Originally built in 1910, as an archaeological research institute, for the the French School of the Far East. It was converted to a public museum in 1958. The museum exhibits Vietnamese prehistory (+300,000 BCE) to the anticolonial August Revolution of 1945.

Similar to the observe the header reads, the (trans.) "National Bank of Vietnam". While the footer features a counterfeit warning. Although the reverse features only one frame section, the watermark area. Backlight the note with bright light, will expose a tiger's head watermark. The framed watermark area rests on a guilloche backing.

The top of the watermark area features a number "1", while the bottom reads (trans.) "One Đồng". Similarly the far-left features a number "1" and "1 Đồng". Additional guilloche underprint and framing, can be seen on the remainder of the note.


The 1 Đồng tiger's head watermark.
The 1 Đồng tiger's head watermark.

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 123 x 78 mm or 4.84 x 3.07 in, shorter than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are large sized protective sleeves.

  • The Southern Đồng was subdivided into 100 Xu, it used Đ as its official symbol.

  • This note was produced by world renowned British printer Thomas De La Rue, London.

  • Notes printed by Thomas De La Rue lack any text listing them as such.

  • Notes printed by the Security Banknote Company are listed, on the reverse footer.

  • Both De La Rue and Security Banknote Company produced notes circulated simultaneously.


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