5¢ Flag of Korea
Overrun Countries Series
Issue Date: November 2, 1944
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Flat-Plate
Color: Blue violet, red, light blue, and gray
U.S. #921 is part of the Overrun Countries Series, which honors each of the nations invaded by Axis powers during World War II. It pictures the flag of Korea, which features the Chinese Yin and Yang symbol and four symbols representing the Taoist philosophical ideas of the universe – harmony, symmetry, balance, and circulation.
Korea and World War II
Prior to World War II, Korea had already been under Japanese control for decades. In 1939, more than five million Koreans were forced into labor and tens of thousands more were forced into the Japanese military.
During the Japanese occupation, traditional Korean culture was discouraged, including the use of the Korean language. After the war, Korea was split at the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union administering the North and the U.S. administering the South.
These Stamps Brought Hope to Overrun Countries of WW II
After receiving several designs from artists who felt the current U.S. postage stamps were unattractive, President Franklin Roosevelt began to consider the types of stamps he wanted to issue. He sought to show the world that America was in this war to achieve world peace, not military dominance. With this in mind, the President suggested the U.S. issue a series of stamps picturing the flags of all the overrun nations in Europe.
In the border surrounding each flag, Roosevelt suggested picturing the Phoenix – an ancient symbol of rebirth. He believed “It might tell those suffering victims in Europe that we are struggling for their own regeneration.” The other side of each flag pictured a kneeling woman “breaking the shackles of oppression.”
When the time came to print the stamps, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was unable to print the multiple colors needed for each flag, so the American Bank Note Company received a special contract for this series.
Additionally, a 5¢ denomination – the foreign rate for first class postage – was chosen so the stamps could be used on overseas mail. The stamps were printed in relatively small quantities and were in high demand as soon as they were issued, with stocks across the country running out almost as soon as they were released.
FDR – The Stamp-Collecting President
President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental in the design and issuance of U.S. #921. Introduced to stamp collecting at a young age by his mother, Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned to his collection throughout his life to relax and unwind.
Elected President four times, Roosevelt served in the nation’s highest office longer than any other chief executive – 12 years. During those 12 years, Roosevelt shared his love of stamps with the nation, personally approving each of more than 200 stamp designs. He suggested topics, rejected others, and even designed some himself. It was his aim to use stamps not just to send mail but also to educate Americans about our history. And as he reluctantly entered America into World War II, he saw these stamps as an outlet to raise spirits and bring hope.
Winfield Scott Schley was born on October 9, 1839, near Frederick, Maryland. He served with distinction in the Civil War and Spanish-American War, most notably claiming victory at the Battle of Santiago.
Schley grew up on his family farm, Richfields and went on to attend the US Naval Academy. After graduating in 1860, he served as midshipman aboard the Niagara on missions to China and Japan.
Returning to the US in 1861 with the Civil War in progress, Schley was promoted to master aboard the Potomac with the Western Gulf Squadron. He went on to serve on the gunboat Winona and the sloops Monongahela and Richmond. Schley was promoted to lieutenant and participated in the siege of Port Hudson, a Confederate-held port in Louisiana.
In 1864, Schley was transferred to the Pacific Squadron to serve as executive officer aboard the gunboat Wateree. His crew helped to stop an uprising of Chinese in the Chincha Islands. He also traveled to El Salvador during a revolution there. Schley returned to the US and taught at the US Naval Academy from 1866 to 1869. He was then sent to the Asiatic Station to serve on the screw sloop Benicia. Schley took part in the US expedition to Korea in 1871, the first US military action in that country. It had been in support of a diplomatic mission to open trade and learn of the fate of a ship that had gone missing near Korea a few years earlier.
Schley returned to the US Naval Academy from 1872 to 1875, serving as head of the department of modern languages. He went on to serve in Europe and Africa before taking command of the Essex in the South Atlantic, where he helped to save a shipwrecked crew. Schley served as inspector of the Second Lighthouse District from 1879 to 1883. In 1884, Schley led a mission to the Arctic to rescue Adolphus Greely and his crew who had been stranded there for three years. And in 1891, he commanded the ship that transported ironclad ship designer John Ericsson’s remains to Sweden.
Schley was transferred to the Lighthouse Bureau for a second time in 1892. He was then promoted to commodore in 1898 and given command of the Flying Squadron in the Spanish-American War. He served under Rear Admiral William T. Sampson on a mission to capture Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete’s Spanish Squadron. On May 29, 1898, Admiral Cevera’s squadron was spotted moving into Santiago harbor. The harbor was blockaded to prevent Cevera’s escape.
On the morning of July 3, Sampson went ashore to meet with another commander and left Schley in charge. Coincidentally, this was the day Cervera chose to try to break out of the harbor. Under Schley’s command, Sampson’s men met and destroyed the Spanish fleet. The following day, as America celebrated Independence Day, Sampson sent his famous message, “The Fleet under my command offers the nation as a Fourth of July present, the whole of Cervera’s Fleet.” There was no mention of Schley’s leadership in Sampson’s declaration of victory, which led to disputes for years to come. However, Schley was considered by many to be a hero of that battle and the war.
Schley was promoted to rear admiral in 1899 and given command of the South Atlantic Squadron. He retired from the Navy in 1901 and published an autobiography in 1904, Forty-Five Years under the Flag. He died on October 2, 1911. Streets in Baltimore and Washington, DC are named after Schley, as is Schley, Minnesota. He was also the namesake of a World War I-era destroyer warship and a cocktail, the Admiral Schley.