What surprises many stamps collectors who do not collect Korean stamps is the strong demand and high prices for the early Korean Dr. Hall (1932-1940) and post WWII late 1940’s to early 1950’s Tuberculosis (TB)/Christmas and New Year seals. Because of the Korean problem with TB and Dr. Sherwood Hall’s program to issue these seals to combat TB beginning in 1932, the collecting of these TB seals is imbedded into the Korean stamp collecting culture.
Stamp catalogues issued in South Korea have these TB seals listed, along with usual Korean stamps. In most other countries, it is relatively easy to find first issues of TB seals, going back to the early 20th century. Other countries seals are, for the most part, not that expensive to collect. Some of the Korean TB seals are very rare and expensive.
The last article about the yearly series of Korean TB seals posted on the KSS website was about the resurrection of the TB seals program by Dr. Moon Chang-Mo after WWII in 1949. This latest article in the series was posted on the website on May 25, 2019. We are planning on continuing this series about the seals on the KSS website early in 2020, starting with the 1952 TB seal. There were no TB seals issued in Korea during 1950-51 because of the Korean War.
The TB seal program was again started back up by Dr. Moon Chang-Mo in 1952. The 1952 seal is the rarest Korean issued TB seal. The rarest Korean TB seal is the non-issued Dr. Hall 1940 seal, discussed on the KSS website in a July 8, 2018 article and in an April 27, 2019 article. Beginning with the 1952 TB seal, South Korean has issued a new design every year to the current year.
We decided to mention the 1953 TB seal in this article because of the very recent auction of two of the full sheets of 180 seals on eBay. Two sheets of 180 were sold for around $2000 each with around 9 different active bidders. The description says the sheets have fold creases, which is typical for these large sheets that were folded in order to be put in the mail. Unfolded sheets would be even more valuable.
The two sheets ended up being sold to the same bidder. The bidder most likely wanted the two sheets because the printing of the 1953 TB seal had two different sheet plates (A and B). These two sheets on eBay were Plate A and Plate B. Plate A has a guide mark at the bottom of the sheet and Plate B has a guide mark at the top of the sheet. Some of the 180 seal sheets were also cut into sheets of 100 seals and mailed to be sold in the USA. Of course, these sheets of 100 seals are not as valuable as the full sheet of 180 seals, but still desirable to have in one’s Korean TB seal collection.
As a single seal, the 1953 TB seal is listed by the Korean Postage Stamp Catalogue (KPSC) as CS12 and valued at 15,000 won (US12.45). So a sheet of 180 seals has a catalogue value of $2241 just for the singles. However, these full sheets of 180 seals are rare and this bidder most likely is a full sheet collector and was willing to pay near full catalogue value for each of these two sheets.
During 2019 we have seen similar types of active bidding on the eBay website for desirable Korean TB seals, so the demand and collectability of these Korean TB seals is still strong. More about this 1953 issue will be discussed in a future article.