How did color oddity occur?


An item shown here has a color oddity. How can it be explained? Here is the background:

On August 17, 1959, the Republic of Korea (South) celebrated the 10th anniversary of joining the World Health Organization with the issuance of a 40h stamp that was perforated 13½, plus a corresponding imperforated souvenir sheet. Both were printed in pink and rose violet on paper watermarked with the Communications Department Symbol. The vignette features the WHO emblem and a family with arms uplifted in praise.

Fig. 1: A 1959 souvenir sheet (Scott 292a) celebrating the 10th anniversary of Korea’s joining the World Health Organization.

A recently discovered souvenir sheet oddity with an evident lighter color (Fig. 2) was submitted to the American Philatelic Society Expertizing Committee (APEX). The APEX certificate (236713) issued March 19, 2021, opined: “Korea, Scott 292a (lighter color but no missing color), unused, never hinged, original gum. Genuine.”

This anomaly has never appeared in the Korea Stamp Society publication, as far as I am aware.

Fig. 2: Similar sheet with odd coloring and shading, including a hard division on the ribbon at the bottom right.

The abnormal sheet has an indistinct, washed-out appearance of the white numerals, the letters WHO, and other vignette details compared with the corresponding regions of the regular well-defined design. I call the lighter color yellowish-tan.

Moreover, the ribbon across the bottom on the atypical sheet shows partially as a pale pink over to the aberration in color to within 15 millimeters at its right end. It looks like the yellowish-tan color may have been applied first in the production process. If so, why? It is difficult to envision that this color was perhaps intended as background highlighting. Perhaps there was an ink reservoir supply issue.

There likely exists similar variant souvenir sheets produced and subsequently cut from the same print run. Perhaps a knowledgeable reader will shed meaningful light on this curious color oddity.

(This question was published in American Philatelist of September 2023, page 791. The KSS is an affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.)

Millard Beatty
I am retired and enjoying writing for personal pleasure on topics related to stamps of general interest.

1 thought on “How did color oddity occur?

  1. For the revised edition of the Korean Specialized Stamp Catalogue in the near future, I am now collecting the references of
    commemorative stamps’ errors and noticeable varieties. Technically this color variety is so difficult to understand how it happened, provided that this is not an artificial fake using chemicals. Usually there are lots of ‘decolorization’ variety of 1960s’ stamps and S/S out of natural cause(for example, exposed to too much sunshine or light beam). Those do not have serous philatelic meaning because they were not produced out of the normal printing process. However, the variety you uploaded seems to be a genuine ‘color error’. If the whole stamp looks pale, the we can regard it simply as one of common decolorization. But about 80% of the bar below shows normal printing color and only 20% looks pale. I assume that this phenomena was made really in the middle of printing process partly caused by lack of printing ink. But I cannot perceive fully why only the lower left part of bar remain with the normal printing color shade. Before my temporary definition of its philatelic value, I would like to suggest that anybody seek the exactly same examples of this S/S. If there are multiple examples of the same kind, its definition as the genuine error might be trusted in a proper way.

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