Philatelic items directly related to Korea are relatively rare in (international) auctions. Of course, there are these “collections” with albums packed with North Korean stamps from the 1970s and 1980s or the usual South Korean flag sheets and such, but occasionally interesting items do show up. Here are a few examples from two different auction houses, Corinphila and Vance.
Corinphila auction nr. 248-249 (8-10 April 2021) has two cards coming from a specialized collection created by Dutch philatelist Dick Scheper titled “Postal History Russian Civil War in Siberia 1917-1924” which have a very direct and interesting link to Korea.
The first card, item nr. 160, is described as:
“Coat of Arms 2 kopeks green and Chita issue 10 kopeks blue and red on Russian postcard 5 kopeks from Vladivostok 25-4-1923 to Gensan (nowadays Wonsan, North Korea), fine/very fine (no. 22 short at right) A rare destination!”
A rare destination indeed. Here are the front and reverse of this card:
The bonus postcards have is that, if actually (postally) used, they come with text! Unfortunately though, it turns out the handwriting on this card is quite unreadable, even (as it turns out) for a Russian native speaker. If someone manages to read the text, we would love to hear from. Please leave your translation below in the comments.
The other card in the Corinphila auction is item nr. 217. This item is described as:
“Chita issue 10 kopeks blue and red and overprint 2 kopeks on 70 rubles on postcard from Vladivostok 4-7-1923 to a French goldmine in Korea, fine/very fine”
Notice that reference to a “French goldmine”, which is indeed literally what it says on the card. The mines run by Westerners in (mostly northern and central) Korea have been mentioned in editions of our magazine, Korean Philately, before. A topic worth of further investigation! Having said that, read the address on this card. Makes you wonder how it ever managed to arrive… It apparently did (notice the arrival cancellation), but then, how and when, did this card manage to leave the country again and end up in someone’s collection?
Again, if you can read this text, please notify us through the comment section below.
The other auction we noticed is the Vance Auctions Ltd auction #349 (7 April 2021 ). Vance publishes much smaller images (and usually one side only) than Corinphila does on their website, which is why the images below are considerably smaller than the other images shown so far. Having said that, here are four items from the Vance auction which show Korean history, in this particular case related to Japanese and British activity.
The first item, nr. 2947, was produced on occasion of a British naval squadron visiting Korea in July 1960. It is according to Vance a “Special envelope July 1906 (for a postcard) commemorating the reception of the BRITISH CHINESE NAVAL SQUADRON to SEOUL KOREA. Depicts Japanese and British emblems, special violet h/s, etc. F“:
Another card related to the same occasion is item nr. 2916. This item shows the name of the British squadron in more detail. It is described by Vance as “95, Tied on special 1906 multi-coloured postcard commemorating the reception of BRITISH CHINESE NAVAL SQUADRON to SEOUL KOREA. The postcard has a map of Korea, Japanese/British flags, etc. VF. Scarce”
Even more directly related to Korean history is item nr. 2923. This item shows Minami Jiro, a man who has a Wikipedia lemma which states as its introduction: “Jirō Minami (南 次郎, Minami Jirō, 10 August 1874 – 5 December 1955) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and Governor-General of Korea between 1936 and 1942. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.” Vance describes the particular item as: “129, 152, Each tied by special commemorative cancels on front of 2 diff postcards, issued for the 7th and 8th Anniversaries of Minami Jiro as Governor General of Korea in 1917-8. Depict the Governor, his residence, 2 diff views and map of area. F-VF (2)” (see above, left)
Finally, item 2958. This consists of two cards, one of which is shown by Vance. Here is how 2958 is described: “Two b/w photo postcards, circa 1918. One has special cancel commemorating completion of Korean land survey with panoramic view of Port Chemulpo. The other bears the red h/s of the Korean Consul at Genzan depicting the local post office. Also has red match box label affixed “MIKADO”. F-VF, unfranked”
Please note that the KSS has no legal or financial connections to any auction house or stamp dealer whatsoever. These items are shown here for philatelic purposes only. Copyright images: Corinphila / Vance.