North Korean revenues postally used

North Korea

Often on Ebay “North Korean” revenue stamps show up. The provenance of these stamps is “unknown” at best, but given that these stamps are never seen used on real documents from North Korea it is likely these stamps are fake. Or are they? Here is a picture of an item offered on Ebay somewhere in the last year (I forgot to write down the details…). If I remember correctly the asking price was rather steep, so I didn’t bid on this item, but it is historically very interesting for revenue stamp collectors and I did save the pictures before the item disappeared from the Ebay listings. 

Front of card, with coastal area and train along the coastline.

The front shows the coastline of North Korea, with a train riding along the coast. The back shows a text written in either Czech or Slovakian, but probably Czech since the city mentioned in the address is Boleslav, a small city in current Czech Republic (but then still undivided as Czechoslovakia) very close to the German border. The name of Czechoslovakia is written both in Cyrillic as well as in Hangul. The stamps used are (from left to right) three normal postage stamps (2 won, Scott 40; 10 won, Scott 50; 20 won, Scott 49) plus 2 revenue stamps, a red one of 1 won and a brown one of 5 won. Only the brown revenue stamps is listed in the Barefoot revenue catalogue. I can’t read the date in the cancellations (except for a few Cyrillic characters), but since the Scott 50 is from April 1952 this card should be from around that time.

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Ivo Spanjersberg
Currently KSS Publisher/Webmaster, previously KSS Chairman (2018-2019). Living in Amsterdam. I collect Korean revenue stamps, see my website:

2 thoughts on “North Korean revenues postally used

  1. The revenues are genuine enough, but the reason for their appearance on mail sent by foreigners is presumably in response to the sender’s desire for as many different stamps for each piece of mail. Traditional stamp collecting was alive and well at this time, and both Communist and non-Communist members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission followed their hobby as an antidote to the boredom of their role (as evidenced by comments in many contemporary letters home). In almost every case of use, the revenues (and occasionally stationery cut-outs) have been applied in excess of the required postage. I have seen one example where the only prepayment of postage on a letter, to Poland. was by a 100 won revenue.
    In this case the surface international postcard rate was 20 won, so the prepayment of 32 won is probably again due to the sender’s desire to add some colour, rather than any postal rate relevance.
    The card is dated 1 February 1955, and was sent by a Czechoslovak member of the NNSC.

  2. Hi Anthony, thanks for the information. I have changed the text a bit because of it. I would love to see the letter with the 100 won revenue stamp, do you have a photo/scan of it? Something tells me this will probably be the 100 won green stamp (the mountain is probably Paektusan), not the 100 won purple stamp with the worker and factories.

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