Korea's Monarchy Stamp of 1902
by: Michael Rogers

[Reprinted by permission, with slight modifications, from a future issue of Linn's Stamp News.]

[Extracted from Korean Philately,
February 2003, Vol. 49, No. 1]

The Korean monarchyís sole commemorative stamp was issued in 1902. It is a fascinating stamp to study. The orange stamp, shown in Figure 1, is the 3-cheun Emperorís Crown, Korea Scott 34, It was issued to honor the 40th year of the reign of Emperor Kojong.

See the 3-cheun Emperorís Crown
Figure 1.

Kojongís father, Taewongun, ruled as regent from 1863 to 1873. Kojong began to rule as well as reign only after the end of his fatherís regency. Initially, Kojongís title was king. He later proclaimed himself emperor to have equal status with the Chinese and Japanese monarchs.

The state ceremonial headpiece with pin shown in the vignette of the stamp design is called the emperorís crown, or the Ming bonnet.

Curiously, none of the inscriptions on the stamp are in Korean. The stamp is inscribed in French and Chinese. At that time French postal administrators were advising the Korean postal service. The 1903 Falcon stamps and some Korean postal cards were printed in France.

The Emperorís Crown stamp was printed in long sheets of 50, five stamps across and 10 down. Today, few complete sheets are known to exist.

The great Kondo collection, auctioned by David Feldman in 1994, incorrectly stated that the Kondo sheet was unique. The standard texts Philatelic Handbook for Korea, 1884-1905, by Helen Zirkle, and Korean Kingdom & Empire Philatelic Catalogue and Handbook, by James Kerr, both state that full sheets of the 3ch Emperorís Crown stamp are known.

While the exact number of full sheets that exist today is unknown, it is certain that they are very rare.

There are two constant plate varieties in the sheet. On the stamps in positions 6, 16, 26, 36 and 46, the E of JUBILE shows a broken top arm, an enlargement of which is shown in Figure 2. Zirkle refers to this variety as a separation. On the stamps in positions 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, the first E of COREE shows a shortened foot, an enlargement of which is shown in Figure 3. According to Zirkle, the shortened-foot variety was identified only in 1969.

See the Figures 2 & 3

Because the position of each variety can be determined by attached selvage, position singles with selvage, although rare, are a nice treat when found. A fine visual display is made by a se-tenant pair showing one variety stamp and one normal stamp. It might seem odd, but such pairs are hard to find. The gum was unevenly applied, and the paper is brittle, ofien causing the stamps to break apart.

Nonconstant varieties, caused by lint and dirt obscuring printing features, are also known.

The stamps were scheduled for issue October 18, 1902. Sheets were canceled to order with this date for sale to collectors. Actual sale of the stamps for postal use was held up until October 21 by the outbreak of cholera and smallpox epidemics.

The 3ch stamp paid the rate for local letter delivery, but commercial covers are rarely found today. Auction catalogs show very few covers franked with this stamp.

Perforations are approximately gauge 11 1/4, varying from gauge 11 to gauge 11 1/2. Shades range from orange to orange yellow, although the color fades easily.

The stamp is printed on white paper with unevenly applied gum. The stamps were printed by typography in sheets of 50. There are no imprints or marginal markings.

Kerrís definitive work stated that the stamps were ďdesigned by Japanese employed at the Korean mint in Yongsan and engraved by Japanese technicians at Yongsan." Kerr illustrated six postmarks found on the stamps.

A second printing of the 3ch Emperorís Crown stamp was produced in 1905 for inclusion in presentation books that were issued when Japan withdrew all Korean stamps from circulation after it took more direct administrative control of Korea.

Imperforate sheets of 50 reprinted stamps were cut up into singles and affixed to a special page.

The 1905 presentation books contain rare and valuable Korean mint sets such as the 1903 Falcon set, Korea Scott 39-51, and the 1903 50ch, 1-weun and 2w Tae-Guek and Plum Blossoms special printing stamps, Scott 52-54. Only 300 presentation books were released. A second edition, slightly changed, appeared in 1906.

Kerr noted many types of counterfeits. Almost all are singles with bogus postmarks. None of the counterfeit stamps is convincing.

The author, Michael Rogers:
199 E. Welbourne Ave., Suite 3
Winter Park, Fl. 32789.
(407)644-2290 Offices/Gallery

EMAIL: webmaster@michaelrogersinc.com

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