The South Korean
"Unofficial
Collector
Booklets"'

By Stewart Steres



I first got interested in these collector booklets when, on a whim, I was the successful bidder on two large lots of these in a Michael Rogers, Inc. auction. When I received the lots I sorted them out and attempted to catalog them, but was at a loss trying to locate any material concerning these. The library had no references regarding them so I went to my trusty computer and “googled” “South Korean stamp booklets”. I finally “hit” on the page run by Harry Penn as the official keeper of the KSS website. After wading through the interesting postal history of South Korea the article mentioned the collector booklets with a link to his pages concerning them. It was there I learned that they were inaugurated on May 20, 1989, with the Rotary International Convention issue and ran through November 16, 2000, finishing with the Korean Beauty Series (#10) (see images above). These booklets were distributed by the Korean Philatelic Center, a retail arm of the MIC, and were sold above face value. There were two types of booklets produced, the “souvenir” booklet which ran through 1995 plus the “Beauty Series” through 1997 and the “portable” booklet which ran through the end of the run of collector booklets. The “souvenir” booklets almost always contained a strip of 4 stamps plus a “used” stamp with a First Day of Issue postmark tying it to the booklet and the “portable” booklets mostly had a strip of 10 (5x2) folded to fit inside. The inside covers of the booklets had pertinent information about the issue.

Considering that the run of booklets was 11 years and they weren’t issued very long ago, I decided to try to complete my collection. Back at the Penn website I used his listing of the booklets and discovered that I had about 60% of all the listed booklets from the purchased lots and that I paid about 40 cents each. I contacted a few dealers about trying to purchase more, but was told that there was not a large market for them. Off I went to eBay and found some up for auction. I won many lots and by asking some of the sellers I was able to buy more and had them searching for my missing ones. About the third time I went through the published listing I noticed that I had one booklet that Mr. Penn didn’t have on his list. I emailed him and was able to send him an image of that one which he added to his website (giving me credit for the discovery). I saw another lot on eBay listing 9 booklets. Upon scrutinizing them I noticed that 8 of them were not among the Penn list. I made sure I won that lot, bidding higher than I thought they were worth, and sent the images to Harry. Throughout the months ahead I was able to locate more undocumented booklets and was finally able to obtain the first few booklets which I was missing. The initial booklet was listed as a note only as Mr. Penn had no information other than from an article stating that it was issued. He was happy when I sent him the image and was even happier when I was able to find him an early booklet he was missing. We have traded booklets back and forth and have developed a relationship through them (this is the way stamp collection should be!!). I am still trying to complete the run of booklets and believe that there are still a few unlisted ones out there. I am missing mostly the later booklets and one day I hope to have the completed collection.

As an add on, South Korea has issued “Official” booklets starting with the 20 Won Industrial Reconstuction definitive of 1956. Most of them are of definitive stamps but a few are of commemorative ones. They were issued sporadically between 1956 and the latest in 2003. These are fairly hard to find and the first two are very expensive. To date 23 of these have been issued. I again refer anyone interested in these to look into our website (the url address is on the cover of KP). There is a wealth of information there and Mr. Harry Penn is available to answer many questions regarding the stamps of both Koreas. If he doesn’t know the answer he has many sources he can contact.


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