In 1951 Korea issued a series of 42 stamps featuring flags of 21 countries that provided assistance in the Korean War (June 1950- July1953). Armed forces were sent from 16 United Nations countries, most from the United States. Five others, including Italy, the only Non-member State to participate (becoming a member on 14 December 1955), contributed medical services to support the effort. The Italian unit, because of intense political strife at home, was the last to arrive.
The Statue of Liberty with the flag of a participating country and that of Korea appear on a green stamp; a similar blue variety exhibits the UN Emblem with doves and the same flags. All are 500 won, perf. 11, on paper watermarked with curved wavy lines. The flag of Italy stamps commemorate the medical and humanitarian aid rendered by the Italian Red Cross Field Hospital 68, serving from November 1951 until January 1955. But the wrong flag vignette was used.
The crown and shield of the Old Kingdom of Italy appear in the central, vertical white panel on the original version (Scott #154-155) released 25 October 1951, just prior to the Field unit’s arrival.
The redesigned stamps (Scott #154a-155a) issued 10 February 1952 feature a larger shield without the crown.
Even so, the designer again used the wrong flag. On June 6, 1946 Italy became a Republic with a tricolor flag having three equally wide vertical panels of green (at the hoist side), white and red, similar to these flag stamps, but without any emblems.
Flag stamps honoring New Zealand’s participation in the war (Scott #160-161) were issued on 15 September 1951. The country name, however, is found misspelled “NEW ZEAIAND” on both varieties. The error is here exhibited on the blue stamp.
- Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue 2016, Vol. 4, J-M, pp. 213-214. Amos Media, Sidney, OH.
- Italian Red Cross. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Italian_Red_Cross
- Flag of Italy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Italy
- Kerr, James, W., Korean Kingdom and Empire Philatelic Catalog and Handbook, 1965, Korea Stamp Society (Uses both Minkus and Gibbons numbers), D. G. Phillips, Buena Vista Press, Miami, FL.
- Dilley, Luther L. L., Korean Stamp Catalog No. 396, 1961. (Uses both KSS and Scott numbers; and, curiously, includes stamps issued up to April 1963), D. G. Phillips, Buena Vista Press, Miami, FL.