South Korean souvenir sheets by the numbers

Stamp Sheets

KPSC collectors often focus their attention on specific topics, issues or themes. Besides these traditional aspects of collecting there are also other interesting features worth considering. Two examples are shown in this text. One shows the number of souvenir sheets issued each year by the KPSC since 1965. The second chart shows the change in the postage stamp value for the New Year’s Greetings issue that has been issued every year since 1965. These charts illustrate some interesting considerations often ignored by many collectors. 

But first: what is meant by “souvenir sheets”? Attached are three images that illustrate the format trajectory of KPSC souvenir sheets. It becomes ever more tedious in determining how to classify some of them as the formats evolve. The KPSC also seems confused in how they handle the subscription service in that regard. Sometimes only the entire sheet is sent and other times they send the singles and the souvenir sheet. Therefore the number of issues per year shown in the histogram chart is subject to interpretation. That said, the trend remains the same with less of them being issued each year since 1965.

Millennium Series, 3rd issue, issued 3 January 2000. KPSC 1731-1735 / Scott 1971A-E.
New Year’s Greetings 2014, issued 2 December 2013. KPSC 2535-2538 / Scott 2418-2419.
Literature Series, 3rd issue. Issued 12 December 1997. KPSC 1644 / Scott 1821.
Literature Series, 3rd issue. Issued 12 December 1997. KPSC 1645 / Scott 1822.

The chart below is therefore a good first order approximation for the number of souvenir sheets issued each year by the KPSC since 1965.

It is a bit “messy” for a couple of reasons:

  1. In later years the souvenir sheets were sometimes printed as part of the full sheet. The souvenir sheet was then sometimes detached. The problem is that sometimes both halves were considered souvenir sheets.
  2. KPSC often issues a theme series over a number of years. The chart assumes that all souvenir sheets for a specific theme are counted in the first year of issue. This slightly distorts the annual number on how the count is computed but it does not change the overall trend of less souvenir sheets over time.
  3. Another observation is that over time the souvenir sheets have become more elaborate and larger. The earlier ones are quite basic and usually without any perforations. Later issues often have multiple designs in more exotic formats.
  4. Two thematic issues have always had a souvenir sheet issued each year (Philatelic Week and New Year’s Greeting).
  5. The inauguration of a new president also results in a new issue and souvenir sheet. Many of these leaders have later been removed from office for corruption and some are in or going to be in jail such as Park Geun-hye.
  6. Major cultural events such as the Olympics usually results in flurry of souvenir sheets.
  7. There have been more special issues in recent years. The Millennium and World Heritage series are good examples. The Korean Postage Stamp Catalogue does not list these issues as souvenir sheets and they have not been included in the tally. In some ways one can think of these as hybrid issues.

Bonus Chart. Just for the hell of it I decided to also take a look at the basic postal rates over the same time period. As a benchmark I used the rate for the New Year’s Greetings stamp since it has been issued every single year during the time period and at the basic rate. The rate of increase since 1977 has been very steady. At the current exchange rate the price is about 30 cents US.

This brings up another interesting topic for the newsletter. How do countries share the postage stamp revenue on international mailings? The current rate is the US is $1.15 for a one ounce letter that can be sent anywhere on the globe. The question is then if a letter is sent to South Korea how is that revenue shared between the two countries. The UPU (Universal Postal Union, see for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Postal_Union) determines the revenue sharing between countries but how this is done is not entirely clear.

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5 thoughts on “South Korean souvenir sheets by the numbers

  1. I do not think that the sheet of New Year’s Greetings should be considered as a souvenir sheet. I would classify it as a pane of 4 x 630 won stamps. That being said, I think it should be collected as the entire pane because each “stamp” has a different selvege, but if you remove the selvege you cannot tell one stamp from another, thus you have 4 identical stamps from the pane.

  2. The Korean Postage Stamp Catalogue lists that item (2535-2538) as a souvenir sheet. The KPSC also shows a block of four with each image on the sheet being an individual stamp separated by perforations. The subscription service sent both the block of four and the sheet and on the invoice it was listed as a souvenir sheet. I hope this helps clarify the souvenir sheet classification for that particular issue.

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