History of the Korea Stamp Society


The actual date for the founding of the Korea Stamp Society is a bit vague and a subject of discussion recently among the KSS Board of Directors. Veiled in mystery, can one of our old-timers shed some light on this arcane matter? The first issue of Korean Philately is dated October 1, 1951, edited by Harold D. Bearce, and it was issued monthly thereafter. However, I think that the Korea Stamp Society was created later, perhaps around February of 1952. Here is some information from the archives; can anyone fill in more details?

In 1976, then KSS President, John E. Strout, summarized the history of KSS, along with a reprint of the first issue of Korean Philately. At the beginning of this summary, Strout said: “In the summer of 1951, Arthur Korzyn and Harold D. Bearce inserted notices in philatelic publications inviting persons interested in forming a group to study Korean stamps to contact them. Eventually, six people [see #1-#6 below] confessed their addiction, and in September, 1951, the new ‘Korean Study Group’ began to function. Although the group was not fully organized, Bearce undertook the duties of managing it and editing a bulletin–the first issue of Korean Philately. The simple, typewritten sheet, dated October 1, 1951, was mailed from Kansas City, Missouri.”

In the back-issue inventory of Korean Philately, I find the following comment from Bearce in Korean Philately, Volume 1, #3 (December, 1951): “The long range objective [of Korean Philately] is this: If at least 25 interested collectors of the stamps of Korea can be banded together, they can form a small specialty group, publishing a mimeographed journal periodically. … A publicity campaign has been started to find these collectors…. if you wish to help promote this advance organization financially, send the writer 50 cents in stamps.” From this comment, I surmise that the Korea Stamp Society did not yet exist in December, 1951.

The January, 1952, issue has no further clues. In the February, 1952, issue, under the heading EDITORIALLY! is the following text which implies that KSS has now organized: “It has been very encouraging to have received the numerous letters from our members about our new KOREAN STAMP SOCIETY, the name suggested by Col. Loren B. Thompson.” [My note: The journal was called “Korean Philately” beginning with the very first issue; but the masthead did not display the society name until March, 1952, Volume I, #6, where Korean Philately is subtitled, “Journal of the Korea Stamp Society” [further note, “Korea Stamp Society,” not “Korean Stamp Society” as suggested above.] This was followed by a plea for organizational and financial support and for material for the journal. Later in this February issue, the first membership list is given:
#1. Harold D.Bearce
#2. Arthur Korzyn
#3. W. Lloyd Heath
#4. Paul Randolph
#5. Forrest W. Calkins
#6. Sture Ljungdahl
#7. R. P. Alexander
#8. A. L. Nicholson
#9. Col. Loren B. Thompson
#10. Robert W. Hopkins
#11. ???Who is next???

Reading through the remainder of KP, Volume 1, membership increased to 42 by September of 1952, and there is a detailed description of each member in the September issue of KP. Albert Kemmesies is President. Arthur Korzyn is Secretary, Forrest Calkins is Treasurer, Harold Bearce is Editor, James Kilmartin is responsible for Publicity, and Norman Townsend for Sales.

If anyone can further illuminate this ancient history of the Society, I would very much like to hear from him or her.

Extracted from Korean Philately, February 2002, Vol. 48, No. 1, written by: John Talmage, Secretary-Treasurer


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