Nov. 2003

Most philatelists, at least in the United States, are aware of the controversy that is being generated by the decision of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Postal Museurn to sell a limited number of each of the 1,900 varieties of U.S. revenue material that had been donated to it by the Internal Revenue Service and then to destroy millions of copies of stamps. In the February 9, 2004, issue of Linn's Stamp News, a collector, Alan Hicks, argued against the sale of any of the stamps, suggesting that such sales would distress the stamp market, especially for those few collectors who hold the only one or two of a stamp variety currently in the marketplace. In the March 15, 2004, issue, Eric Jackson, a major revenue stamp dealer, argued for the sale of ALL stamps, with none being destroyed, in spite of the fact that he is the current holder of some of the very rare material. He argued that the role of museums is to protect their inventoiy, not destroy it. He also argued that the release of the stamps would, in fact, grow the market, not destroy it. More people would be attracted to the collection of revenue stamps. Finally, he argued that it is not the role of the museum to protect a few rich collectors when there are many more collectors who could benefit from the sale.

I think that this is a very difficult ethical issue for philately. How would you respond if was discovered that the ROK had a large inventoty of what we think today are "limited" numbers of the presentation sheets? Or how would you respond if the DPRK discovered that they had large inventories of some of their early stamps, or if the Russians discovered a huge archive of postal history from the DPRK during the Korean War, and so on? Should the materials be destroyed? Should a limited number be sold and the rest destroyed? Should it all be allowed to come on the market, even though it would, at least temporarily, dramatically depress the value of some individual collectors’ collections? I’d really like to hear from you on this hypothetical situation.

On a non-hypothetical question, what is your reaction to Korea’s “My Own” stamp? Many countries now have such personalized stamps (indluding Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, the United Nations, and others). Has the advent of the “My Own” stamps “cheapened” Korean philately? I wonder if the Korean MIC has had any problems with censorship with proposed pictures or logos. The Advisory Committee for the USPS has just recommended against such stamps for all of these reasons. Are their concerns valid given the experience of Korea? Certainly the response to the KSS logo on the “My Own” stamps was very positive. Let ne know what you think!

I would also love to hear from you about your "stamp market tips." What are the sleepers in Korean philately that should be picked up now before others figure this out? Even though I hardly ever buy from the “stamp market lips” in Linn’s, I always read it and enjoy the speculation and arguments for why those particular stamps were selected.

I think it is extremely important for a society such as the Korea Stamp Society to include historical information of philatelic interest in its journal (such as KP). However, I think we also owe it to future philatelists in our field to capture information about current philatelic happenings in our journal, as well. With that in mind, I am suggesting, here, as I have done in other editorials (such as an article on postage meters), a couple of areas of current interest that call for articles.

One item of considerable interest to philatelists is forgeries of stamps intended to fool the post office rather-than collectors. Over the past year, there have been a large number of such cases reported for U.S. stamps, and there have been similar examples of Canadian stamps over the past few years. These tend to be the most commonly used definitive stamps, attracting very little attention from anyone. Not only does the government lose when these very sophisticated frauds are successful, but so do stamp dealers and collectors. Is anyone aware of a similar situation in either of the Koreas? It would be great to hear from anyone who has examples of these or who has any information about such fraudulent issues.

Here’s another question that the U.S. and other countries are facing: Should computer-generated "stamps" be listed in the country’s stamp catalogues? Scott’s has been inconsistent with its decisions regarding U.S. computer-generated stamps. So far, they are not listed in the Korean stamp catalogues. Should they be? What is the future of computer-generated stamps in Korea? Here's another very interesting area on which our members may choose to respond with a Letter to the Editor, or even a full-blown article.

Come on, folks. Send me something! While we are blessed with a few very gifted, prolific, and welcomed authors, we need to expand our base—both of authors and of topics. If you’ve been a member for a while, you know that I welcome a Letter to the Editor, an illustration with a brief paragraph explanation to an extended multi-page and even multi-issue article. And I’ll help you get the article in shape, if you need help. But send me something!

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