Laos

Discover all the banknotes issued between 1945 and 2015

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Historical context

Laos or Lao People's Democratic Republic is a country in Southeast Asia without access to the sea, surrounded by Burma (or Myanmar) and China to the northwest, Thailand to the west, Cambodia to the south and Vietnam to the east. The city of Vientiane is its capital, the official language is Lao and the official currency the kip.

The origins of the state can be traced back to the Lan Xang Kingdom established in the 14th century. In the 18th century, Lan Xang split into three kingdoms, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champassak. The kingdoms were united as part of the French colony of French Indochina in 1887. The country became independent in 1953, as a constitutional monarchy. A civil war broke out in 1959 between the government and Pathet Lao, a communist movement. In 1975, Pathet Lao won the war and overthrew the monarchy. The country has since been a one-party communist republic ruled by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, under which human rights in the country are often criticized (Source: Wikipedia).



The story of the 500 kip type 1968 overprinted

Apart from the first banknotes issued between 1945 and 1946, all the banknotes of this country, which includes a total of 50 references, are very accessible to purchase. However, only one reference is controversial with the 500 kip type 1968 banknote overloaded with 50 kip on 500 kip type 1979 (1).

LAOS_P24A_B401_50_KIP.jpg

The 500 kip type 1968 (Ref. Pick # 24, The Banknote book # B307) was overprinted in 1979 for a provisional issue but was never issued ... Rumor has it that this issue was produced in private by a coin and stamp dealer from Vientiane who needed money to settle in France. This merchant would therefore have had the idea to revalue the 500 kip cheap banknotes. For legal reasons, the overprint (in brown) was not applied in Laos, but in a Thai printing house in Nongkai. The first printed notes were sold to a vendor in Bangkok for around $ 25 apiece. Established since in France, our Laotian merchant continued to sell these banknotes in his kiosk on a market place in Paris at a much higher price. He still only had one copy with him, which he declared as "very rare"! Caveat emptor (2).

A banknote numbered CN 090393 was sold for $ 1,673.00 in June 2016 by Heritage Auctions (lot #26326).






Notes

(1) Known catalog references: Pick # 24A, The Banknote book # B401a.
(2) Translation of the famous Latin phrase: “Buyers, beware!".


Our sources

  • "Laos", Wikipedia.
  • "Laos", Banknote Museum.
  • The Banknote Book "Laos" by Owen W. Linzmayer.
  • "Lao" Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 796 to 798).
  • "Lao" Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1961-present, 17th edition (pages 579-584).
  • Photo archives: cgb.fr.

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