...And now, back to post-1975 Laos.
On May 12, 1978 (May 26 according to the Lao catalogue), a set of five definitive stamps showing the Lao coat-of-arms was issued. One hundred thousand sets were printed. The values were 5,10, 50,100, and 250 kip. Figure 1. (Second coat of arms issue). No imperforates or sheetlets were prepared–a basic and boring set. First day covers were prepared. The next set issued honored Army Day, September 15, 1978.
Figure 2 (Army Day - Printed in Cuba). shows the basic perforated set of three (20,40,300 kip). This issue was also sold imperforate, and on first day cover, both perf and imperf. Quality control was pretty good, and there were no varieties discovered. This set was printed in Cuba. The 40 and 300 kip bear Cuban printers inscriptions in the sheet margins.
A set of stamps was issued on December 2, 1978 to publicize National Day. This was the third anniversary of the abdication of King Sawang Wattana and the end of the Laotian monarchy in favor of the Pathet Lao. The abdication is generally reported to have occurred on December 2nd, although I have also seen the date given as December 3rd.
The That Luang Pagoda is shown in the background of each design. The set consisted of three designs: a 20 and 50 kip showing parades, and a 400 kip showing a Lao dancer. The Lao PTT announced this set as containing one value of each stamp, however new issue dealers sold this as a set of six stamps–two of each value in slightly different colors. Figure 3 (National Day complete set of 6) shows the complete set in both colors.
The printing of this issue was terrible. There is tremendous variation of color. The designs are also rather fuzzy. There are many perforation errors such as a missing horizontal or vertical row of perforations or missing the two bottom horizontal rows of perforations and all vertical perforations
The 20 kip, both perforated and imperfo-rated, exist with the gold color missing, which is most noticeable at the bottom of the stamp. Probably by the time readers are seeing this article, all of the color and perforation types will be illustrated at: www.stamps andcollectibles.us under "Laos".
For this issue, two souvenir sheets were issued. One sheet had (starting from the left) the 20, 50 and 400 kip values (Figure 4). (National Day Souvenir Sheet). The second sheet had the stamps in the reverse order and in the second set of colors. There is a blue frame line around the three stamps on each sheet. There are no inscriptions on the sheets, and they were issued without gum.
January 18, 1979, saw the release of two sets, both perforated and imper-forated. The first set was issued for World Telecommunications Day and consisted of a 30 Kip and 250 Kip. The design features a map of Laos with a circuit board pattern overlaid.
The second set was issued for the 15th anniversary of the Asian-Oceanic Postal Union. The four values, 5 Kip,10 Kip, 80 Kip and 100 Kip show one of two designs, a woman mailing a letter or a mail processing facility. There are no varieties for either of these issues except for the imperforates. They are illustrated in Scott Catalogue. Both issues were printed in Cuba. On August 1, 1979, Laos joined over 200 other nations that issued stamps to honor the International Year of the Child. Two sets were issued, the first set (Figure 5) (I.Y.C. First Set) of four was released on August 1 and the second set (Figure 6) (I.Y.C. 2nd Set S/S) of three on December 25, 1979. Each set also contained a souvenir sheet. There were no imperforate stamps officially issued, however, the first set of four exists imperforate and part perforated. The second set is only known part imperforated. This second set was poorly printed, with variation in color, registration and perforation.
This set for the International Year of the Child is the most popular issue of Laos. In addition to being sought after by collectors of Laos, topical collectors seek out this issue. This two-part issue is a United Nations topical, as this project (IYC) was designated to awaken the consciousness of the world to the problems of the children. Each participating nation was to establish a commission to determine the problems affecting the children of their nation and to plan long-range programs to solve the problems. There are also many collectors that collect neither Laos nor United Nations stamps but collect IYC issues only.
The combined two IYC sets with souvenir sheets total nine items. At this time I personally have thirty-two items counting varieties in my Laos stock. I do not have an exact number of basic stamps in the total IYC group, but there must be many hundreds. This accounts for the popularity of this set.
Printing quantities were low for these Lao issues. The 1st part of four stamps was released in sheets of twenty stamps with a printing of only 20,000 sets. There were only 4,000 souvenir sheets produced. I have no verified data regarding printing quantities for the 2nd part of the IYC issue. This accounts for the difficulty in locating these issues, both basic stamps and varieties.
Early 1980 saw a currency reform whereby 1 New Kip was equal to 100 Old Kip. The first issue under the new currency reform was released on May 30, 1980. The set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet were to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Phak Pasason Lao (People’s Party of Laos). The new currency resulted in lower face values than previously used–the stamps were 0.30 Kip (rice farming), 0.50 Kip (education and health), 1 Kip (ethnic people), and 2 Kip (hydroelectric power development).
The souvenir sheet was issued imperforate containing one of each value (Figure 7). (New Currency S/S). The sheet was inscribed in the Lao and French languages. No varieties of the set or souvenir sheet are reported.
Of interest, the new issue notice in the American Philatelist at the time stated that this issue (of 1980) was for the 3rd anniversary of the Lao Republic, which was founded in December 1975. A math error or a typo?
The 110th anniversary of the birth of Lenin was the next set issued on July 15, 1980. The set consisted of four values, perforated and imperforated, plus an imperforate souvenir sheet (Figure 8) (Birth of Lenin S/S) containing all four designs. The designs are from paintings used on communist stamps previously. In fact, the 2 Kip value shows the painting "Lenin at Smolny" by I. I. Brodsky and the 3 Kip value shows the painting "Lenin at the Rostrum" by A. M. Guerassimov. The souvenir sheet is 136x95 mm. Other than color variations, there are no varieties of this set.
The last set to be described in this first five year period was the fifth and last issue printed by an unspecified firm. They did terrible work. This issue of December 2, 1980 was the second issue of 1980 to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the Lao Republic. The set consisted of four stamps (Figure 9) (3rd Anniversary S/S) showing farm workers at various chores. The set was issued perforated. There are no issued imperforates known, nor any varieties. A large size souvenir sheet was issued imperforate. It is 270x165 mm. The souvenir sheet has Lao and French inscriptions. A variety exists with the inscriptions missing.
The five "crude sets issued by this unnamed printing firm were:
1. December 2, 1978: National Day.
2. August 1, 1979: International Year
of the Child–1st issue.
3. December 25, 1979: International
Year of the Child–2nd issue.
4. May 30, 1980: 25th Anniversary of
the Lao Revolution/3rd Anniv. of
the Lao Republic
5. December 2, 1980: 3rd Anniversary
of the Lao Republic (some
references say Jan. 31 1981).
An interesting time period in Lao philately and one that is sure to gain in popularity. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org