Perforation varieties of early North Korean stamps, say pre-1960, are almost limitless, for example, in his exhibits Dr Maeda detects at least eight varieties for the single Labour Law issue of 1956, (SGN110). The later emphasis on issues for philatelic markets, however, brought about a standardization of production, resulting in much less variability. Almost none is noted in the catalogues, but a few items have come to my attention which I describe here – there very probably are others.
The 1976 ‘Ducks and Geese’ issue is listed in Michel and the Korea catalogue (Mi1467-69, KC1441-43) as perf.12(11¾). Gibbons agrees on the 20chon and 40chon, but lists the 10chon as perf.11. The only copies of the 10chon I have seen are perf.11, in agreement
with Gibbons, but the 20chon (SGN1480) exists both perf.11 and perf.12.
The 1976 New Year issue is listed as perf.11 in the Korea catalogue, but as perf.12 (12¼) in Gibbons and Michel. Both stamps exist perf.12, but the only copies of the 10chon (SGN2645, Mi2796,KC2665) on domestic paper that I have seen are perf.13½.
Two more recent definitives also exist with distinct perforations. The 1994 National Flag 10chon (SGN3384, Mi3534, KC3449) is listed in all three catalogues as perf.13½(13¼), which is true, but it also exists perf.12 (Fig. 1).
This stamp, in both perforations, would appear to exist with two distinct shades of blue, a lighter and a darker shade; blue and Royal blue in Gibbons classification, perhaps more accurately using the Michel colour guide terminology, vivid violet ultramarine and dark purple ultramarine.
A further variety occurs in the 1995 ‘Machines’ series (SGN3551-55, Mi3773-77, KC3625-29) listed as perf.13½(13¼) in all three catalogues, at least in the case of the 10chon (SGN3551) which also exists perf.11½. Ten copies of this stamp are shown on cover in Fig.2, the multiple franking a reflection of the inflation in postal rates in the autumn of 2002, noted in the August/November 2002 issue of the Journal; here by
a factor of 40 from 5chon to 2won for a local printed matter item.