Revenue stamps in album pages?

Other Korean revenue stamps

The biggest challenge when it comes to creating stamp album pages for revenue stamps is the sheer endlessness of it all. There is no way of knowing for sure how many stamps were ever produced. Unlike postal stamps, which are usually issued by an official postal authority, revenue stamps can be issued by a whole range of governmental organizations, for very different reasons.

Postal authorities are used to publishing information about their stamps, but offices issuing revenue stamps usually don’t have any reason at all to publish information about such stamps. From the 19th century onwards postal stamps were meant to be presentable, for propaganda reasons but also so that such they can be sold more easily to collectors. Revenue stamps on the contrary are seen as a means to pay tax or some type of (semi-)governmental service, not as something to collect.

A very common way to find revenue stamps: as used on the products for which tax had to be paid. Try putting that in an album!

The problem then is: how to make stamp album pages for revenue stamps? With paper pages comes the problem of not being able to change pages when a new revenue stamp is found. Another problem is how some of these stamps were essentially endlessly reused. By creating one design which at best differed by changing the (topographical) name, stamps could easily be produced whenever something changed in how a country or region was governed.

A Korean example of this are the “regionalized” revenue stamps produced from 1976 onwards. KOMSCO produced these stamps for probably 100s of cities, provinces and other areas. Any change in local government, such as reordering Incheon and Busan, created a need for new stamps.

Many documentary revenue stamps can be found on documents. These are rather unremarkable to look at, not something to make special pages for!

The easiest solution is, at least until some idea can be had about “completeness” is to simply use stamp sheets which are essentially like stock books. In this page I am showing some types of revenue stamps, including the regionalized revenue stamps, from my own collection. Unfortunately these sheets are slightly larger than A4, which means they can’t be completely scanned.

Seoul local revenues
The Seoul locals are not the most difficult Korean revenue stamps to collect. Three series, with (probably) known values. However, notice the overprints for parts of the city. That’s when it becomes difficult again!

Two pages (above lower values, below higher values) showing Seoul local revenue stamps.

Regionalized local revenue stamps
These stamps consist of two series, containing not too many individual values. However, the number of local/regional names can potentially run into the hundreds or thousands. Here are four pages of just one value, the blue 60 won from the first series, in (Korean hangul) alphabetical order:

The revenue stamps from the second series of regionalized stamps are a lot more difficult to find, even though they were much more recently printed (90’s and beyond):

Commodity tax (including alcohol and tobacco)
Commodity tax stamps and other such revenue stamps are quite difficult to find unused. These are usually only produced to be put on a product immediately, to avoid things such as forgeries and tax evasion. But occasionally they do show up, here are a few examples:

Another set of stamps, often found on records sold in Korea during the 1960s/1970s:

Local revenues of the 1950s-1970s
The most complex type of stamps are the truly locally produced stamps. These were often only used during a few years, in just one place, during a time when the Korean economy was not such that people would actively collect these stamps. Most of these are now probably gone forever. Here is a page with some examples I have managed to collect:

However, none of these pages are real album pages of course. And it is unlikely anyone will ever come up with album pages for Korean revenue stamps (with perhaps the exception of the national revenue stamps), it would simply require too many changes to such pages to make it feasible or even possible.


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