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Sedang Cinderellas

Sedang Cinderellas
Complete set of forgeries of stamps issued by Marie-David de Mayréna
for his "Kingdom of Sedang" in Vietnam's central highlands

Beyond their obvious purpose of paying for the transportation of letters and parcels, postage stamps also serve to generate revenue for the issuing authority and to reinforce that authority's claim to legitimacy. The Sedang cinderellas (pictured above) served the latter two purposes rather than the primary purpose of postage stamps.

The issuing authority, Marie-David de Mayréna, was a veteran officer from the Franco-Prussian War and an adventurer who worked for the French government in Sumatra, Cochin-China and Annam. At a time when French authorities were concerned about the expansion of Thai influence beyond its eastern borders, de Mayréna travelled with Jesuit missionaries into the lands of the Bahnar, Rengao and Sedang tribes in the Central Highlands of modern Vietnam. Rather than negotiating treaties on behalf of the French government, de Mayréna persuaded the tribes to unite in a Kingdom with himself as monarch. On June 3, 1888 he declared himself Marie I, King of the Sedang with his capital at Pelei Agna or Great City (Kon Tum). The monarch's political power was undermined when he was absent having travelled to Bangkok in an attempt to gain Thai recognition of his kingdom. French officials declined de Mayréna's offer to exchange his kingdom for a monopoly on mineral rights in the region. He travelled to Europe to obtain financial backing to regain control of his kingdom.

It was at this time that he arranged to have stamps printed and their release was announced by a "Royal Decree" on June 6, 1889. Copies were sent to postal administrations along with a request for copies of their own postage stamps. Quantities of stamps were postmarked "Pelei Agna" but it does not appear that they were postally used. The quantities of stamps that made their way on to the philatelic market reflect extra quantities of stamps promoted by Dorsan Astruc after invoices for the printing order were not paid. These "forgeries" are characterized by missing hyphens in two-word denominations, an enlarged triangle in the "A" in "SEDANG," two fingers of the hand on the right touching the frame line and missing serifs on vertical line in the "E" in "Sedang."

Book Cover of Marie I roi des Sedangs, 1888-1890
Maurice Soulié's biography of Marie-David de Mayréna was published in 1927
in Marpon's Les Aventures extraordinaires (extraordinary adventures) series.

Blocked from returning to Indo-China by French officials and prevented from smuggling arms into the country by authorities in Singapore. de Mayréna died in 1890 without returning to the kingdom. The mystery behind his death, by either a snake bite or poisoning, seems an appropriate ending to such an adventure story.

Philatelic Advertisement for Sedang Stamps
The romantic appeal of the adventure story of "King Marie I" of Sedang has been used
to promote the sale of the cinderella stamps he issued despite their questionable status


Chapier, Georges. Les timbres de fantaisie.
     Lucerne: Emile Bertrand, n.d.

Melville, Frederick John. Phantom Philately - A Descriptive List of Stamps That Are Not What They Seem.
     Worthingon, Ohio: Janet van den Berg, 1950.

Sainte-Claire DeVille, Claude. "MARIE Ier, Roi des Sedangs (1888-1890)." france/Indochine :
     Histoire et Mémoire
. Creteil, France: Association Nationale des Anciens et Amis
     de l'Indochine et du Souvenir Indochinois 2007. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Soulié, Maurice. Marie I roi des Sedangs, 1888-1890. Paris: Marpon, 1927.

Tyler, Varo E. Focus on Forgeries. Sydney, Ohio:
     Amos Press, 1993.

Williams, L.N. and M. Cinderella Stamps. London:
     Heinemann, 1970.

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