Obtaining one more 1905 Postal Envelope of the Missionary Mr. H. G. Underwood!

Old Korea
This year I was lucky enough to have bid on an auction and won this 1905 postal envelope of Missionary Horace Grant Underwood. The sender’s address is “FROM: H. G. UNDERWOOD,SEOUL, KOREA.”, receiver address is typed as “Tiffin Stamp Co, 160 N St. Tiffin Ohio, USA”. The envelope was franked with a 10 cent Eagle stamp, issued October 1st 1903, and was cancelled “SEOUL 1 APRIL 05 COREE”. The back side shows a faint cancellation “SEATTLE WASH APRIL 14 1:30 AM 1905”, and “TIFFIN APRIL 23 6 PM 1905 OHIO” as arrival cancellations. Missionary Underwood sent this letter to the Tiffin Stamp Company, Tiffin Ohio, USA. Part of the back side of this envelope had been cut out.

On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1885, missionary Underwood first came to Korea with Methodist missionary Mr. Henry Appenzeller. They both consented to step onto the land of Korea simultaneously, so that they would not argue who was the first to step on Korean soil. After 31 years of long devotion and sacrifice for the Korea mission, and because of his health condition in 1916, the missionary Mr. Underwood went back to the United States, and died in a hospital in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the age of 57.
According to his will, in 1999 his remains were brought back to Korea, and buried at the Yang-wha-jin national cemetery for memorable foreigners. His other family members were also interred there. His children were also dedicated to medical and educational mission work for Korea through 4 generations. The mission work of the Missionary Underwood can be seen in my article “Missionary Mr. Underwood”.
About the same time period that the missionary Mr. Underwood sent this letter to the Tiffin Stamp Company, we show Tiffin Stamp Company’s catalog, and also another company’s Korea stamp sale noting their price for “2 Corea stamps for 5 cents”. The first stamps in the world, 1 Penny and 2 Pence, had been issued in England May 1, 1840. The “CAPE OF GOOD HOPE” stamps, which had a triangular shape, had been issued 1855 in England.
The proliferation of stamps increased with the population, and in about 1860, the hobby of collecting stamps spread through all of Europe and the whole world. Yet, due to economical reasons and spare time, the hobby of collecting stamps was a matter far from the scope of ordinary people. For what reason did missionary Mr. Underwood send this letter to the Tiffin Stamp Company? Did this missionary have a hobby of collecting stamps, and have a few moments of leisure in his busy life?
In the 100th year memorial of the death of the missionary Mr. H. G. Underwood, his descendants visited the campus of the Yonsei university in Seoul, Korea, where missionary Underwood’s statue was dedicated, and took a picture. (Presented by the Yonsei University), “Missionary Mr. Underwood, who loved Korea more than the Koreans”…. A grateful and longing person.
(All my other collections can be seen at: https://blog.naver.com/coree1884
Dr. Joel Lee
Born in Korea, Vietnam war participation as ROK marine, Dr. of Ministry, Retired Presbyterian Pastor. 40 years collected for Korea stamps 1884-1905.

1 thought on “Obtaining one more 1905 Postal Envelope of the Missionary Mr. H. G. Underwood!

  1. Dear Dr . Lee,
    I read with great interest your two articles regarding the remarkable story of H.G. Underwood. Indeed, a very remarkable family with an impressive footprint in Korea. In fact, a few months ago I was in contact – related to an oral history project – with his grandson, Richard Underwood, who served in the Korean war as an interpreter at the armistice talks in Panmunjom.

    Kind regards,
    Urs Fischer-Han

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