Source: Thanh Nien, Lao Dong
Every Sunday at 10 a.m. the market is set up at a corner of Trieu Viet Vuong Street with a couple of plastic stools, one or two small tables made of bamboo and several cups of tea.The market does not have shops or sellers, because the market goers, mainly senior citizens, office goers and university students, don’t go there to buy and sell, but to exchange stamps, in a barter system of sorts.Collectors say each of them has a favorite theme, so when they get together to show their newly collected stamps, they sometimes find their favorite ones from each other’s collections.They then would exchange stamps for mutual satisfaction, which helps enrich their collection at these market sessions.
Nguyen Tien Dat, who started the hobby since he was in primary school and is now a famous collector, said since the market was established, he has never missed a single session.“Thanks to the market, I have found many rare stamps,” said the 60-year-old collector who won the first prize at last year’s stamp exhibition held by Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group with his collection themed on the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi.Pham Hao, one of the market’s founders, said it started out with a few collectors gathering for talks and showing their collections.But, “gradually the gathering became well known, attracting collectors from other localities to come here to exchange stamps, and then without anybody’s notice, it has become a market.”In fact, it has attracted many collectors from provinces like Hung Yen, some 64 kilometers from the capital.
Le Phuc Hinh from Hung Yen, for example, said every month he would take a bus at 7 a.m. to attend the market despite the distance, because “I would feel uneasy, if I don’t visit it after a long time.”Besides the old and middle-aged people, the market has also attracted young ones like Minh Tu, a student from the University of Economic and Technical Industries with nearly ten years’ experience in collecting stamps.One of the youngest market-goers, Tu said he has just recovered from flu, but he could not help attend the market even though he still felt sick.Meanwhile, the market also attracts people who are not collectors. They visit it just to listen to stories about the stamps that carry lots of cultural, historical and artistic information.Quoc Minh, a third-year student from the Hanoi Architectural University, said every Sunday he would visit the market to look at the stamps and listen to stories from collectors.“The stories have helped me lot in my studies,” he said.Vu Van Ty, editor-in-chief of the Tem (Stamp) magazine, said each stamp \”is a cultural world that no one dares to say they understand thoroughly,” Ty said.However, despite the participation of young people, collectors said they are worried about the hobby’s future in Vietnam, given the current development of the Internet and other means of telecommunications.
“Vietnamese children have no conditions to collect stamps, because they rarely use this means of communication,” Hao said. “When will this hobby end?”