His Corean Majesty Customs Jenchuan Cancellation: genuine or not?

Old Korea

A request for information by Australian KSS member Robert Finder: “I have had this for some time, but do not know what it really is. The used #1 is extremely rare and only a few copies are recorded. This pair has a certificate and a lineage from auctions, but I don’t know if it is legitimate or a clever forgery. 

The two stamps and cancellations.

It supposedly has a “His Corean Majesty Customs Jenchuan” cancellation, but I cannot find these in any of my Korean postal history information or my collection of publications, books, (auction) catalogues, etc. I cannot find it listed as genuine nor as a fake cancel. Actually, I always thought it was fake, even with all the documentation. So hopefully, someone with a lot more knowledge about this can tell me the story of what it is.”

The auction information.
The certificate as mentioned by Robert.

If you do recognize this type of cancellation or can tell Robert whether these are genuine or fake, please leave a remark in the comments section below.

8 thoughts on “His Corean Majesty Customs Jenchuan Cancellation: genuine or not?

  1. 1) This is an intaglio marking typically used to place it into a lacquer or wax seal employed to seal letters, documents etc.
    So it is not a postmark, not even a handstamp. In view of the red stamps used one could speculate about en-lieu “paper seal usage”, but I think it is just some of the many souvenirs done with #1, 2 after they had become invalid.
    2) There is only one legitimate type of postal marking on Korea #1, 2 – the single circle so well known showing the abbreviated placenames 京 (Seoul) or 仁 (Inchon) in center. The mun-issues were solely intended for postage. So there are no other legitimate usages, no fiscal, no customs, no seal, no bank receipt or whatever souvenir strike sellers claim they could have served for.
    3) Komoro blogger just describes his astonishment for the hefty start price and even higher hammer price at an HK auction. And that he pulled out the old 1979 Kanai Stamp Co. Commander Koreywo auction catalogs. “That pair was marked ‘as is’ and realized Y31.500 back then. So why an ostensibly non-postmark realized y500.000+ inc. comission in 2018?” – I have the Koreywo catalogs, too, and I am astonished as well.
    Good question.

  2. So, oddly enough one might argue it is real because it is not “counterfeited” or fake in the literal sense of the word. It doesn’t pretend to be a postal cancellation for instance. But then, what is it? There is a picture of a “Customs Jenchuan” cancellation dated “21 JAN 94” in an article in the Korea Herald Weekly (1965) which itself was reprinted in KP Vol. XVII No. 4 (November 1968).

  3. Thanks everyone, I will look and see if I have that KP Vol. XV II No. 4 (November 1968). Since I asked the question, I was also doing a bit more research and I found the postmark listed in Dr. James W. Kerr’s “Korean Kingdom and Empire Philatelic Catalog and Handbook, 2nd edition 1990. On page 73, Dr. Kerr has the postmarks of this stamp, this postmark as “B. Customs, ships and revenue use: “His Corean Majesty’s Customs”. It has a picture of two of the #1stamps with the same “postmark”, ( not the same two stamps I have). He has an example of another postmark on #2 dated 24 X 1892 on a Japanese ship. Dr. Kerr states “Other examples show ornate bank seals”. I still don’t know what it is, will look for the article in the KP. Dr. Kerr also has the Mon issue, as A. the single round postmark with an example and says on it (single circle, earliest know postmark is 20 Nov 1884 and Latest possible as 4 Dec 1884. He says that shipping companies reported using this second postmark or stamp on #2 are Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Osaka Shoshen Kaisha, China Merchant Steam Navigation (in 1885 under Viceroy Li Hung Chang) and some Russian carriers.

    1. The late Jim Kerr back then simply listed “all what existed”. There was no customs usage of postage stamps. So this is not a legit usage. Yes, the customs had date stamps and one finds them on documents and on official letters backflaps. A postal service of the customs did not start before 1889 and used only chinese postage stamps. – In 1892, mun unit stamps did not serve a purpose as there was no korean postal service. So the japanese (?MEIJI latin type?) may be genuine, but not a genuine usage of the mun unit stamps. Souvenir. – The “ornate bank seals” are (at least) post 1910 or even post 1935 “usages” and must be called fake markings, because pasted to blanc bank letter heads and purporting to be some sort of fiscal usage. A guess is the bank seals went into wrong hands after the japanese were ousted 1945/46. They even appear with the late Holcombe notations who mused what that could be. – The 1884 mun stamps were purely local issues (Korea not in the UPU) and the postal regulation said, if usage to a foreign destination wanted, combination usage with japanese stamps required. Such a combination would always go via the japanese p.o. in Inchon. Both sides would cancel their stamps. Plus no postal steamer between Korea and Japan had postmarks in 1884. – The only genuine postmarks were the single circles e.g. shown in the Kondo auction catalog (https://koreastampsociety.org/important-auction-catalogs-of-the-past/) pdf page 10.

  4. Thanks Florian, I know it isn’t one of the 9 or so known with the single cancel. I have now seen two more of these in single form in past auctions in Europe with UK certificates with the “Custom” stamps. One was highlighted in an issue of KP from an auction in the UK. In KP Vol V, No. 4 (1954), Helen Z. Kirkle noted from Kohl’s Handbooks that “after the fire, mail was handled by the Japanese and Chinese Custom Offices in Korea”. However, the Chinese Customs used a different “customs” hand stamp. I think you are correct, but I would really like to know when these were first noticed in the stamp trade.

    By the way, Kerr does have a separate section and pages on the fake cancels. Item 6, pages 80-82 and he shows some known fake cancels.

    1. Just found this in KP Vol VI, pages 2-6 “Chinese Postal Agencies in Korea”, while it doesn’t show the exact cancel it does say: “It is interesting to note that both the Seoul and Jenchuan (J1) Customs types of cancellation can be found on the 5 mon and 10 mon stamps of the 1885 issue of Korea with the dates between 1889 and 1901. Les than a score of these Korea stamps exist with genuine contemporary Korean cancellations because of the issue was withdrawn immediately after the burning of the Seoul Post Office.The marks of the Chinese Agencies on these Korean stamps probably represent by favour cancellations as also happened in the case of the Japanese Agencies. They are nevertheless rare and well worth collection. No covers are known.” I am guessing that the cancel on this pair is something like this, but from which Custom agency?

  5. It is not a customs postal service handstamp. It is a seal mark used to create lacquer seals. Jenchuan = Inchon (japanese reading Ninsen).

    And yes, the various Chinese Maritime Customs marks are known as souvenir marks, even on japanese stamps. I saw the oval double framed SEOUL CUSTOMS / MAIL MATTER on a Japan 1900 3 Sen commemorative. So the westerners in the IMC had some time to game around.

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