The freedom-loving Indochinese people have a long history of battle against colonial rule. In order to follow the sequence of events, much can be learned by studying the money. Coins are most useful when used to illuminate points in history.
French Indochina is the eastern portion of a long curving peninsula that juts into the South China Sea in Southeast Asia. The early settlers of the area were driven there by the Han Chinese in the second century B.C. from their homeland in the Yellow River Valley in northern China. Chinese rule and cultural dominance continued until 938 A.D. For the next 900+ years Cambodia, China and Indo-china struggled for control of the area. In 1801 a new Indochinese ruling group gained independence from the Chinese and called the land Vietnam, meaning Distant South.
In the 1600's, French Roman Catholic missonaries began arriving. Their constant persecution by the rulers of the area was finally avenged in 1858 by an invasion force of French and Spanish allies. By 1893, France controlled all of Indochina. The French divided the area into the five states of Cambodia, Laos, Annam, Tonkin and Cochin China. The Japanese forces that seized and occupied the area during World War II from 1940 to 1945, combined the latter three areas to form Vietnam and installed a puppet emperor, Bao-Dai. This coin was minted in 1943, while French Indochina was firmly under the control of the Axis Vichy government.
Postscript: The returning free French forces were greeted by Ho Chi Minh of the communist Viet Minh, who in 1946, began an 8½-year struggle that ended in French defeat and communist victory in North Vietnam and independence for the remainder of Indo-China. The rest of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel would later fall to the North. This coin is genuine money of French Indochina from World War II.
The demands of fighting World War II strained the supplies of traditional coinage metals for many countries. A number of mints experimented with the use of other metals such as steel and zinc. The minting of this coin in aluminum coincided with the beginning of a great expansion in the use of aluminum as an acceptable coinage metal. A large number of developing nations throughout the world are currently using aluminum as the metal of choice for their smaller denominations. The hole in this coin has been influenced by the traditional Chinese round coin with a square hole that was in use for more than two thousand years. Those holes were originally used as an aid to manufacture and to rope together large numbers of coins for larger transactions in the absence of abundant precious metal supplies.
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