How to spot nonsense catalogue values?

South Korea

In 2018 a Korean stamp dealer sent me several envelopes covered in older stamps. All stamps published by the (South) Korean postal services are still valid, even including the hwan stamps printed before 1962 and the old won values from the 1940s and 1950s as long as they are correctly recalculated into new won.

That last trick would be rather expensive, but using much older stamps for postage instead as items for sale to collectors is a very common trick and I have seen it often on envelopes from the rest of the world. However, since most people don’t regularly receive post from Korea I wanted to show these examples. They prove that catalogue prices in the Korean stamp catalogue are just as overvalued as they are in most catalogues.

Stamps on envelope received in April 2018. Some of these stamps are from 1986 and 1989!


Stamps on back of envelope received in May 2018. The four souvenir sheets are directly related to philately: they celebrate stamps exhibitions, in 1993 (Taejeon) and 1994 (PhilaKorea). The two souvenir sheets with mushrooms are from the third “mushrooms series”, printed in 1995.
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 “How to spot nonsense catalogue values?

  1. I didn’t see any very old stamps on the image. However, modern ROK stamps are too cheap, it’s very common that stamp dealers ( or other general population) have so many old stamps at hand but no collectors want, the best way to solve the problem is: use them! The most common example is from USA stamps, stamps issued in 1930s -40s are still valid and very easily to meet on envelopes.

    1. This should be corrected. The 1946/51 wons are no more valid postage.

      Old currency (1946/51 Won-) stamps became invalid for foreign mails from April 5, 1953.
      They remained valid in domestic mails at 1:100 until June 9, 1962.
      They became completely invalid with the 2nd currency reform enforced June 10, 1962.
      – Hwan stamps (1953/62) are still valid at 1:10, as stated by Ivo.

  2. With the real-estate speculation in South Korea, particular in Seoul (a remaining “fortress district” with fortifactions against a NK-invasion became demolished/permitted for housing construction – after all, rockets do not care for walls) running wild in the early 2k, with a peak in 2006, so many koreans sold all and everything to get cash for buying apartments/houses/real estate. That selling mania was also true for stamps, blue chips of the 1950s (low issue s/s) and the classics. Korean stamp dealers decided to keep free fall of prices a secret and “froze” the catalog values in KPSC. They even halted publication of the catalog for several years. Meanwhile they discretely pooled and exported the depreciated rarities among the standard material to European and US auctions while the old high CV (Scott, Michel) were still considered actual. – Scott takes/updates its prices from the real US-market, so is probably much more realistic than Michel or other european catalogs. A good example is the 1956 boyscout s/s, once a lighthouse of good value and a most desirable rarity for topical collectors. Just compare CV and auction realizations. – KPSC still has the frozen CVs for the classics and 1950s.

    1. Hi Florian, excellent comments on why the prices of Korean stamps fell so much. I was aware of what was happening to the prices, but didn’t understand why until you made these comments. I really noticed it for the Boy Scout S/S that you mention. By the way, the KPSC mentions the Boy Scout S/S with small inscription and there was an old KP article about the ones with the small inscription. Have you eve seen one?

  3. As if to make Chen Yi-Fu’s point, here is an envelope I just received from a US seller which comes with US stamps, in one case (the block of four) from 1934!

    With Dutch stamps it used to be until just a few years ago you could use any (guilder denominated) stamp issued after 1977, but due to recent forgeries this is no longer possible. Now only euro denominated stamps are valid.

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