Reader’s Question: A Korean postal history atlas?


(Reader’s question) Several of our members have a store on websites such as Ebay or Delcampe. It turns out one of our new members, Didier from France, is currently selling an atlas of China on Ebay. This atlas shows according to the title on one of the pages “postal establishments and postal routes in each province” in 1919.

I have personally been collecting maps and atlases since I was quite young, which means I own quite a few of them and have seen even more. In combination with stamps atlases can give very valuable information on how postal services were run at one time or another. They also give a much better idea of distances involved than mere text telling about services from A to B. So I always notice such publications whenever I run into them.

Here are a few examples of the atlas showing what I mean about routes and such:

“Postal Atlas of China” including index page.
Index map showing all the parts included in the atlas. If only Korea had been part of it…
Sample page: map of Kiangsu.
Sample page: map of Chekiang.
Sample page: map of Canton.
Detail from one of the maps in the atlas.

Notice all the details right up to the numbering systems for the postal routes! So, here is my question: if you are a collector of Chinese philately from this era this type of atlas contains important information. But how about one for Korea? Has anyone ever seen the same type/style of atlas? Or perhaps given the much smaller size of Korea compared to China’s size how about any individual map(s)?

Besides that, just to be thorough: if you are interested in buying the China atlas, then have a look at Didier’s listing of the atlas in his Ebay store. And if you have any knowledge of Korea related atlases/maps showing postal history, please leave a comment below.

[KSS Editor: please be aware that the KSS assumes no responsibility for any seller’s items on any online or offline platform, even if the seller is a KSS member. The KSS is simply a hobby club for philatelists, we have no (financial) links to any other organization or seller. This item is shown here for philatelic purposes only, as a way of sharing information amongst philatelists.]
Ivo Spanjersberg
Currently KSS Publisher/Webmaster, previously KSS Chairman (2018-2019). Living in Amsterdam. I collect Korean revenue stamps, see my website:

5 thoughts on “Reader’s Question: A Korean postal history atlas?

  1. (1) Such a postal route map or atlas of old Korea *as an original* in a western language does not exist.
    (2) One in korean using hanja (chinese characters) may exist, but not seen by me.
    (3) One of the early japanese period ca. 1906.12.1 (again characters only) was re-published as insert in the english version of Mizuharas “Korean Postal History”, english version Tokyo 1998. Now: the complete map is detailed enlarged bilingual characters/english in this book pp. 551/63, including offices opened by the japanese 1906/09. – Mizuhara/english is priced y5.000 and a bargain, if still available.
    (4) Postal routes atlas issued by the Japanese Ministry of Communication includes maps of Korea 1906/41, characters only, and is availabe online via!/search?lang=en_US&keyword=%E9%83%B5%E4%BE%BF%E7%B7%9A%E8%B7%AF%E5%9C%96&page=1&sort_issued=asc&maintain=true&searchCode=SORT.

  2. Hi Florian, Thanks for the info! I have downloaded the 1911 Korean map using your direct link to the atlas files on the National Diet Library website. Here is Korea:

    Note: made much smaller than on the NDL website, to fit it in the layout of the KSS website. This is approx. the level of detail (it is the Seoul area from the Korea map) when looking at the fullsize files on the NDL website:

    Detail of Korea 1911 map: Seoul area

    And for people interested here is Taiwan:

    Now the only question is: what does the legend say in the lower left corner of the introduction page?

  3. Hello Ivo,
    the legends are the same for all the maps in this postal route atlas. So not particular for Korea. Bottom left is just the list of contents with page numbers on bottom. It has the various “Communication district offices” and the provinces/prefectures they are responsible for. As of Korea, it is just “Govt. General of Korea” plus “Chosen” (Choson).

    On top they give the various scales, the data for the atlas current data which is “by M. 44.10.1 (October 1, 1911) as of the mainland” which means that the data for colonies/territories is somewhat older.
    The symbols give a host of data inc. 1st 2nd 3rd grade p.o. (just look for chinese 1-2-3), postal districts/postal routes, all kinds of general ways, roads, routes, same for regional waterways and railroads.

    –> They note that large steamer routes (to China, Japan ec.) are on extra-special waterway maps elsewhere in the atlas.

    Symbols include rwy stations, lighthouses, garrisons, spas ec. borders of local-regional-national scale, military / strategical districts (no photographs!!) borders ec.

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