One For The Record

Other Korean revenue stamps

It should not come as a surprise that a specialized stamp society such as the KSS has among its membership quite a few highly specialized members. However, it does sometimes feel as if the KSS has more of those specialized members than quite a few other stamp societies. It is of course purely anecdotal, but it does seem to be that collecting Korean stamps, “statistically” already quite a specialty in itself amongst philatelists, almost automatically comes with even more specialization.

Within the KSS this has led over the years to an almost over-representation of what one might call “specialized specialty collectors“, at least amongst the KSS members actively writing. The Christmas seals are one example, the revenue stamps are another one. And here is an example of that last category: the commodity tax stamps of South Korea.

B/W image from the original article from KP Vol. XXXIV No. 3 (August 1988)
It is difficult to find pictures of this type of stamp on an actual record. This is very understandable, since at the time when these stamps were used, just after the Korean War, people in South Korea were not particularly rich of course. A photo of a mostly scratched-off commodity tax stamp was the best I could do…

William Collyer was in the second half of the 1990s chairman of the KSS. He wrote several times about revenue stamps. One of his articles was a short one, on a stamp found on a record. This is the text he wrote in 1998:

A tax stamp (green; 30mm x 27 mm; perf 12%) has been found on two phonograph records purchased in 1954 or 1955 in the Shinsegye Department Store in Seoul, Korea.

The tax stamp illustrated indicates that there was an article tax on phonograph records at that time. Both records had a tax stamp applied. And both stamps are lightly cancelled as shown on recording F-100e. The tax stamp (not shown) on record F-1004 is damaged, but its cancel indicates that the stamps were cancelled prior to being affixed to the phonograph records.

The album of “Most Popular Korean Folk Songs” was made by the Korea Record Manufactory Seoul Korea. It features four vocalists, two men and two women singing Korean folk songs.

The lilting melody of the Arirang is well-known to those serving with the the armed forces in Korea. The words to the Arirang in this recording are translated on the album cover.

Both the 1950s and the 1970s style of commodity tax stamps. The type shown to the right can be found in all sorts of colours and with more detailed text on them for all sorts of types of products. The text on the 1954 stamp reads 大韓民國 (top; English: “Korea”) and 納稅畢證紙 (bottom; English: “commodity tax”), while the text on the 1970s stamps reads the same but in hangul. So 납세필증지 in the middle of the stamp means “commodity tax” and at the bottom one can read 대한민국 or “Korea”.

This mid-1950s stamp wasn’t the only commodity tax stamp of course. For decades all sorts of commodity tax stamps could be found on all sorts of products. And all sorts of tax required all sorts of tax stamps. A few types are shown here, but there are many more known (and probably even more not yet known) to have existed.

Two commodity tax stamps, the one to the left is for instance used on “beverages”, the one to the left on coffee and cacao products.

The use of tax stamps on records wasn’t unique to the 1950s either, they are much more commonly found on 1970s records. Below are two examples of records from that era, but I have seen a lot more photos of these stamps on attached to records.

Two examples of 1970s commodity tax stamps on records. Notice the typos in the track listing on the record to the left (look at numbers 7 and 8 for instance). The record from Decca to the right was produced in April 1977.

Once you know what to look for you will find them pretty much everywhere. The most interesting place to find them is YouTube, because there you can also listen to the actual record! Here is just one example of dozens I’ve managed to locate:

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