Living Viet

A former army colonel’s coin collections

For several decades, former army colonel Le Dai Hiep has had a passion for collecting antique coins and has a collection of thousands of old bills and coins from Vietnam and different countries around the world.

Hiep keeps his profile low in the world of antique coin collectors. He does not buy or sell, but collects money as a hobby, to learn about the culture and history through the patterns printed on each bill.

Each coin Hiep collects has a little story that goes along with it. The story of collecting coins, perhaps, has a different "predestined relationship" with its owner. There are coins that Hiep received from a woman selling bottles, from the fruit seller in the alley or from his niece living in the United States.

Le Dai Hiep has a passion for collecting coins.

A Vietnamese coin produced in 1968.
Hiep learns information related to coins.
Hiep and her wife always share interesting information about his collection.

Each collection has its own  files of information. 

With his military nature, he arranges and lists the sets of coins quite logically and clearly. In each collection of antique coins, there are books that list the years and the denominations of each coin by year. Each coin has a meaningful story and a history of fluctuations. The coin also shows historical periods. For example, if the bill is small and thin it shows that at that period of time the amount of copper was in short supply and the financial situation was difficult. 

Hiep has dozens of 10,000 dong bills in different series of each different year. From such a list and arrangement, according to Hiep, it is possible to know the inflation level of the currency each year. For Hiep, each collection of coins is a story about history and culture or a story about the monetary situation associated with each period of development in Vietnam.

Each coin is also an artistic picture, describing the country's nature, historical sites, people, factories and landscapes. Looking at the albums of old bills or coins, it is possible to know the prevailing symbol, shape or coin material of that period.

Vietnamese coins in the Nguyen dynasty (1802 – 1945).

Coins of  the Republic of Vietnam (1954 -1975).

A French coin in 1896.

Bills of Cuba, Indonesia, Nepan in Hiep's collection.

Genghis Khan portrait on Mongolian money.

Coins from European countries.

Coins of the US. 

Part of Hiep's collection. 

Story: Thao Vy - Photos: Thanh Giang - Translated by Hong Hanh

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