Decoding Cheon Stamps: Unveiling a Stamp Editions Myth

Catalogues and books

In the fascinating realm of philately, the classification and study of stamps often reveal intriguing insights into history, culture, and even the nuances of artistic expression. A striking example of this is presented in an enlightening article titled “The truth about the classification of ‘Cheon’ handwriting surcharge stamp plates” by Oh Byeong-yoon, published on December 21, 2018. The piece challenges conventional wisdom within the philatelic community, particularly concerning the ‘Cheon’ handwriting surcharge stamps, which are listed in stamp catalogs as having separate 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions.

Fig. 1A: 2016-2017 Korean Stamp catalog, published by Woo Moon-gwan, pages 12-13
Fig. 1B: (continued)

Through meticulous research and analysis, Oh Byeong-yoon, of the Oh Byeong-yoon Philatelic Research Institute, refutes the existence of these supposed separate editions. His study showcases a full sheet of 3 ‘Cheon’ handwriting surcharge stamps alongside another sheet displaying only their face value, revealing that the variation in handwriting letters on a single sheet makes it implausible to categorize them as distinct editions. This revelation not only corrects a longstanding misclassification in the philatelic records but also underscores the importance of thorough examination and the need to question established beliefs in the study of stamps. Oh’s work exemplifies how philatelic research can illuminate the complexities and artistic subtleties embedded in these miniature canvases of history.

The truth about the classification of avant-garde stamp plates
Written by: Oh Byeong-yoon, Written on December 21, 2018

Here is an ‘Cheon’ handwriting surcharge stamp and I am asking for the opinions of those who are interested in the Korean Empire stamps. Figure 2 shows the original full sheet, and figure 3 is to make it easier to identify the handwriting, the background stamp was removed using a special technique, leaving only traces of the handwriting. If you look at it closely, none of the 100 fonts are the same.

What on earth was the basis for dividing a single sheet into 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions and what criteria were used to determine it? It is truly a shame that every one so-called master collectors and beginner collectors blindly trust and follow the catalog like a postage stamp bible without any underlying logic.

For those of you who see this, based on the handwriting shown here, what is your opinion on which edition it corresponds to: “Yes” or “No”? If so, how many handwriting editions would you classify this full sheet as?

Additionally, please share your thoughts on the phenomenon currently classified.

The article was originally published on Mr. Oh’s stamp blog.

Fig. 2: A full sheet of the ‘Cheon’ handwriting stamps
Fig. 3: A full sheet of the 3 ‘Cheon’ handwriting surcharge stamps that shows only the value.
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.

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