The First Two Stamps of Korea 1884 (Unique Cancelled Pairs)

Old Korea

At the end of the 19th century, “the country of morning calm” became a demonstration field for the world powers to demonstrate their rapidly changing military arms. A geopolitically unfavorably located country, Korea firmly tried to close the door, but the situation of this country meant it was drawn deeper and deeper into the whirlpool. Keep everything as it was or open the door for the world?

The conservative and the reformative sides were in conflict with each others. The reformative side, which centered around Mr. Young-Sik Hong, poured constant efforts into creating a postal service. These efforts lead to the issuing of a Royal Decree to establish the Department of Post Office on 22 April 1884 (Lunar 3. 27.). The postal service started on 18 November 1884 (Lunar 10. 1.). The first “Moon” stamps were used at two post offices, in Seoul and Incheon.

However, on 4 December 1884 (Lunar calendar 10. 17.) the Gab-sin coup d’état (甲申政變) was started by the new reformative side during the opening ceremony of the post office. This failed within a few days and all those who took part were killed. Consequently the business of the postal office was forcefully shut down. The other three stamps of 20, 50 and 100 Moon arrived after the closing of the post offices, so they were never used.

The first two stamps were used only for about 18 days and cancellation devices were in use. The detailed design of these cancellations is unknown. So far less than 20 pieces are accepted as genuinely used. Among them is one pair each of 5 moon and 10 moon on the same fragment of a cover, and one other pair of 10 moon. No complete covers are known.

Complete Online Exhibit
The complete Exhibition of KOREA Stamps 1884-1905 can be found online. The description for the image at the beginning of this article is: “1884. 11. 18. issued 5 and 10 Moon (Only one pair each of 5 moon and 10 moon on the same fragment of a cover)“. Below is the same image, but enlarged to max. width of this page, cut in two:

Dr. Joel Lee
Born in Korea, Vietnam war participation as ROK marine, US citizen, Dr. of Ministry, Retired Presbyterian Pastor. 40 years collected for Korea stamps 1884-1905.

2 thoughts on “The First Two Stamps of Korea 1884 (Unique Cancelled Pairs)

  1. Did a bit of research, it seems this item was recently in a CG auction:

    CG Auction lot-nr. 7677 in Auction-Nr. 45 (9th-9th/14th-18th of OCTOBER 2019):
    “1884, 5 mun rose-pink and 10 mun light blue each horizontal pairs on small piece, each cancelled by a central strike of single-circle datestamp “In -.10.9 ” (Inchon, Nov. 26 in solar calendar). Piece has been folded between each stamp and one 10 M. with short tear at left. – These are the only recorded multiples of Koreas first issue. The small faults in no way detract from the importance of this premium item of Korean philately. Extraordinary exhibition piece of the highest caliber. Ex- Mizuhara collection. Auction record: Spink Jan. 2013 #1805.”

  2. Mr. Spanjersberg,

    How are you?

    Yes. It was. I bought it for a good price to comparison with 2013 Spinx’s price, but with BP, taxes, and others it was not that cheap.

    As I wrote you earlier, after I saw that particular item on the Mizuhara’s book, it was my most wanted item, and my wish fulfilled recently.

    Thank you for your paying attention.

    And you are a gem also for the KSS’s web. I thank you for that too.

    Don’t work too much, and stay healthy!

    Joel Lee

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