Imagine my surprise when the DPRK also printed a postal stationery catalogue!


I started collecting the Postal Stationery of the DPRK as I had one or two clients who were buying North Korean postal history which was all but unobtainable in Western Europe in the 1980’s. After leaving Stanley Gibbons in 1992 to start ‘Carmichael & Todd’, I joined the KSC. I attended, with a stand, the FIP International exhibition held in Poznan in 1993, where I made great and useful friends in Poland who found material for me and I later returned to do buying trips to Krakow and Warsaw, where I encountered many unusual DPRK covers and cards and even Polish air-letters franked with the obligatory ‘Partisan’ and ‘Dove’ issues – by this time too, my customers had let me know exactly what they were looking for and the trips were both fun and profitable.

Later my trips branched out to visits to Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania – where I bought a correspondence of illustrated envelopes and postal stationery mailed to Cluj. I had been lucky enough to know Borje Wallberg for many years as he too was a fixture on the International Philatelic Exhibition circuit and through him learnt that Koh Seow Chuan had purchased much of his North Korea collection. I discussed with Koh the possibility of buying this collection and eventually purchased it on instalments.

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9 thoughts on “Imagine my surprise when the DPRK also printed a postal stationery catalogue!

  1. I guess it wasn’t the last time the KSC pulled a stunt like this one. When I bought the official KSC stamp catalogue (issued 2015) I immediately noticed that the layout (colours, etc.) of that catalogue was rather identical to the layout of the “Officiële Postzegelcatalogus België” (=the Belgian stamp catalogue). You wonder who was first with that particular type of layout…

  2. I have both catalogue but I don’t see too many similarities between the two. The first KSC postal stationery catalogue was issued in 1998 with postal stationery of 1948-1998. Very simple, with basic but necessary information such as issuance date, size, face-value, colour etc. the first page is even black and white. Todd’s catalogue was publised in 1997, with postal stationery information of 1947-1961 only, based on collectors’ authentic cards, with many used cards and clear description of these cards. I think maybe Todd’s catalogue was used as a reference in KSC’s catalogue but without mentioning, however, “copy my catalogue” is a too serious accusation in my opinion. And I’m sure Koreans must be unhappy with it if they know. I’m not going to raise any dispute, but I really think the thinking process of Westerners and Orientals are very different and that’s why I quit.

    1. Well, I think they are rather similar. Here are the two catalogues shown side by side. The large (A4 sized) one is the Belgian catalogue, the smaller one the North Korea version. Notice that both have a two columns per page system, with the stamps on one side and the text on the other side.

      Also notice the use of yellow, blue and green boxes. In both cases yellow boxes are the stamp issue numbers, while the bilingual system (Belgium: Dutch/French, Korea: Korean/English) comes in blue and green(ish), with the blue at the top and directly below the green. Then notice the stamp number listings, with the numbers in their column next to the description of individual stamps. The similarities are to say the least “remarkable”.

      As a matter of fact, even the top of the pages is 100% identical! In the Belgian catalogue it states “Postzegels – 2001 Timbres-poste”, i.e. “stamps (Dutch) – year – stamps (French)”, while in the Korean catalogue it says “우표 – 1996 – Stamps”, which is again “stamps (Korean) – year – stamps (English)”.

      Sorry, but if this isn’t pretty much a copy, then what is…?

  3. Identical Ivo! The DPRK copied a lot of my Postal Stationery catalogue, including one erroneous date that they repeated verbatim…

  4. I’m tired of explain anything since I’m not KSC’s representative. But if KSS is so hostile to KSC, then maybe you should delete all information about DPK philately. They are all copied, and maybe incorrect.

    1. Hello Yi-Fu, I am sorry you believe the KSS is hostile to North Korea. I believe it is the opposite because we have so many articles and postings about North Korea and 90% are positive or neutral. We shouldn’t have politics on the website as that takes the whole fun out of our hobby. On the political front we know that there are a lot of countries that North Korea is hostile to, and countries that are hostile to North Korea, but we do not want that here. But members should be able to talk about things like the catalogues and some may think they are copied and others like you, do not believe so….but that is just discussions about philatelic items. In past we have members disagree on such things as whether a particular stamp is a forgery, but I hope no one takes it personally. We have many collectors of North Korea stamps as members, as well as dealers who specialize in selling North Korean stamps, and even people who lived there in the past. Since you have been such a valuable contributor about North Korea and the Korean philatelic world, I hope you still remain an active KSS members. Ivo was even trying to get people to post articels about the new issues from North Korea, but so far hasn’t found someone who wants to do it.

      1. Hello KSS members. I am shutting down any more comments about this topic of catalogs as it causes angst within the membership. It is good to have spirited discussions about philaelic matters, but some peoples’ feelings get hurt. And, we should not forget, because we have such an international base now with the membership, that cultures are different and what might not cause conflict in one culture, might cause conflict in another. There should be no polictics and personal attacks on the KSS website. Thanks for your understanding. Bob

  5. The partial copying of data and style is a unvoluntarily form of honouring the predecessors work.
    Also Gregs catalog is sold out, while the DPRK catalog editions are readily available and at least can give a basic, skeleton information on data. I dont see a problem here. And maybe the NK postal archives are so much lost (korean war) that this was simply necessary.
    As of the Belgium model, well… another compliment.

    Now wating for the revised edition of the Todd NK-stationery catalog B-)

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