Korean Stamp Catalogue 1946-2006

Catalogues and books

(Korean Philately November 2006) The latest in a series of catalogues that goes back as far as 1958, the newest edition combines the stamp catalogue with the cata­logue of postal stationary—the only previous edition of which, Korea Postal Stationery & Maxicard Catalogue 1948-1998, came out in 1999. Apart from the maximum cards, which have been dropped entirely, everything–stamps, stamp booklets, stamp cards, presenta­tion packs, and postal stationery–is now con­tained in one fully illustrated 397-page vol­ume. Most of the stamps and souvenir sheets, and especially the postal stationery items, are reduced in size compared with the earlier vol­ume, and the trueness of the colors reproduced is less reliable than before. All prices are given in euros. 

The development of this catalogue has been an incremental process, and, apart from the newer issues, some interesting additions have again been made in this edition. There is not yet the inclusion of the Pang Ho-san com­memorative of 1952, no mention of the domes­tic paper issues of 1970s and SOs (yellow paper issues), nor any recognition of the many perfo­ration varieties that exist. No details, either, are provided of the war-time validation chops of 1951, nor any listing of the 3-won overprints of 2002. But there are details of several unis­sued stamps included, the existence of most of which, but not all, was noted in the previous edition but without detail; most notably a set of three butterfly stamps from 1971 (Nos. 995-997). In addition, there are a few heretofore totally unrecorded (unissued) items. All of these stamps are illustrated but unpriced, as are now some other stamps that were very mod­estly priced in previous editions but known to be very difficult to locate, e.g., the 1967 set of five 15th-16th century paintings (#783A-E) and the 1968 ‘blue dredger’ (#829b).

Never a very reliable guide to prices in the outside world, prices now, on the whole for issues after 1956, have been modestly in­creased, but with a few dramatic increases— again in issues known to collectors to be diffi­cult to locate. As examples, the set of three Revolutionary Fighters of 1966 (#698-700) goes from $1.60 to €850, the 1970 sheet of 10 of the Fifth Congress goes from $20 to €335, the 1976 Pothong River Works 1 Ochon stamp (#1457B) from $0.40.to €50, and the 1979 set of high-value roses (#1781-84) from $24.30 to €720; all prices are for mint stamps.

Prices quoted for early issues are just too erratic to analyze seriously, although slightly more rational than in the past. An ex­ample is the 1950 Liberation of Seoul (#17) used, reduced from $48 to €20, a stamp of which surely less than 50 copies exist—unless they have started producing them! The most expensive stamp is now the 1948 3rd ~ saxy of liberation issue, at €1800 mint corn­pared with $260 in the last edition. In most cases the originals and the 1957 reprints are shown side by side, but in almost all cases the size of the illustrations is too small to enable a distinction to be made. Some recognition is now given of the relative value of reprints compared to original prints—in the past reprints were often assigned a higher value—but we still find major anomalies like €120 for the used (CTO?) 1948 Labor Law reprint!
As before, the validation chops of early 1951 axe mentioned, but without details of the issues affected. For the first time, also, the overprints on south [sic] Korean stamps are mentioned, but no details are given. Perhaps the most in­teresting aside, but again without details, re­lates to the massive devaluation of the won in August, 2002, in connection with which it is stated that “those previously-issued 91 postage stamps were overprinted with the new denomi­nation [i.e., a 3won surcharge] to be used for a certain period of time from August.” Does it mean that 91 stamp types were so surcharged? If so (I have only seen two), we collectors have our work cut out!

The least satisfactory aspect of the cata­logue is the section on postal stationery. The earlier catalogue of this material was a very attractive and useful volume. No improvements to the listings (several early items are absent), beyond adding more recent material, have been made, and all illustrations have been much re­duced in size. Prices quoted are not as me­chanical as before, with increases in the early issues, and in issues after 1990. In the case of envelopes, there axe significant reductions in most issues in the period 1960-1990.

Spurred perhaps by Scott’s listing, there is an increase in interest in collecting North Korea, and the demand for this publication is likely to be greater than for earlier editions. KP

Korean Stamp Catalogue 1946-2006, 397 pp., Pyongyang: Korea Stamp Corporation, 2007. No ISBN, no price stated.

Extracted from Korean Philately November 2006, Vol. 51, No. 4; review by P. Kevin MacKeown


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