Postage stamps and postal history of Germany

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Germany and philatelically related areas. The main modern providers of service were the Reichspost (1871-1945), the Deutsche Post of the GDR (1949-1990), the Deutsche Bundespost (1949-1995), along with the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin (1949-1990), and are now the Deutsche Post AG (since 1995).

Metzger Post

The Metzger Post is credited to be perhaps the first international post of the Middle Ageswikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 9] The guild of butchers (German: Metzger) organized courier mail services with horses; when the mail arrived they used a horn to announce it and thus created a commonly recognized emblem for postal services. The Metzger Post was established in the twelfth century and survived until 1637, when Thurn and Taxis's monopoly took over.

Thurn and Taxis

In 1497, on behalf of Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, Franz von Taxis established a postal service that replaced the ad-hoc courier for official mail. [cite journal|author=author unknown|title=Our National Post-Office|journal=The New York Quarterly|volume=3|date=1855|page=4 [] ] A horse relay system was created that shortened the transit time for mail and made its arrival predictable. Thereafter, the house of Thurn and Taxis using the imperial yellow and black livery maintained the postal privilege for many centuries. Thurn and Taxis employed the first horse-drawn mail coaches in Europe since Roman times in 1650, - they started in the town of Kocs giving rise to the term "coach". [wikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 26]

Thurn and Taxis lost its monopoly when Napoleon granted the Rhine Confederation the right to conduct postal services.wikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 10-11] The agency continued to operate and even issued some stamps (v.i.) but when Prussia created the North German Confederancy Thurn and Taxis had to sell its privileges in 1867.

German states

Prior to the German unification of 1871, individual German states and entities started to release their own stamps, Bavaria first on November 1, 1849 with the one kreuzer black. States or entities that issued stamps subsequently were Baden (1851), Bergedorf (1861), Braunschweig (1852), Bremen (1855), Hamburg (1859), Hannover (1850), Heligoland (1867), Lubeck (1859), Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1856), Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1864), Oldenburg (1852), Prussia (1850), Saxony (1850), Schleswig-Holstein (1850), and Wurttemberg (1851). Also Thurn and Taxis while not a state had the authority to issue stamps and transport mail and released stamps (1852). The northern German states joined in the North German Confederation in 1868 and united their postal services in the "North German Postal District" (Norddeutscher Postbezirk). After the unification, Bavaria and Wurttemberg retained their postal authority to continue producing stamps until March 31, 1920. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p46 and p. 178]

Imperial Germany, 1871-1918


The "Deutsche Reichspost" started officially on May 4, 1871 using initially stamps of the North German Confederation until it issued its first stamps on January 1, 1872. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 210] Heinrich von Stephan, inventor of the postcard and founder of the Universal Postal Union, was the first Postmaster-General. [ [ "History of postage stamps"] ] The most common stamps of the Reichspost were the Germania stamps. Germania stamps were issued from 1900 until 1922 making it the longest running series in German philately with the change in the inscription from "Reichspost" to "Deutsche Post" being the major modification during this period.

German colonies

Stamps were issued by the German authorities for all colonies:German South West Africa, German New Guinea, Kiatschou, Togo, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, German East Africa and Kamerun. These stamps had a uniform appearance depicting the imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Regular German stamps with overprint were used prior to the inroduction of the yacht issue.

German offices abroad

Imperial Germany maintained postal offices in Marocco, Turkey, and China. Issued stamps consisted of German stamps overprinted with the local denomination and the name of the country. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 326ff]

German WWI occupations

During world war I, German authorities issued stamps in occupied countries, namely Belgium, Poland, Romania, and areas of the western and eastern front. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 606ff]

Weimar Republic, 1918-1933


The "Reichspost" continued to function as a governmental entity after Germany became a republic. In 1919 the Reichspost issued its first commemorative, airmail, and semipostal stamps. [wikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 99] The first semipostal stamp in 1919 carried a surcharge for the benefit of war invalids (Scott #B1). In 1923 during hyperinflation, the Reichspost issued stamps up to 50 billion marks. The main common stamp series then was the "famous German people" series, followed by the Hindenburg stamps. The first of the valuable German Zeppelin stamps appeared in 1928, Scott # C35-37.

Plebiscite areas

After the Treaty of Versailles a number of areas underwent plebiscites in 1920 to determine their future fate. These areas briefly issued stamps: Allenstein and Marienwerder, Schleswig, and Upper Silesia. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 422ff]


After the Treaty of Versailles the Free City of Danzig was established as an independent entity in 1920. At first German stamps were still used, after a while overprinted with "Danzig". [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 456ff] Thereafter Danzig introduced its own stamps until 1939. In addition, the Polish Post maintained a presence in Danzig and issued "Port Gdansk" overprinted Polish stamps.

Memel territory

After the Treaty of Versailles, the Memel Territory (Memelland, Klaipėda) was established. Initially German then French and Lithuanian overprinted stamps were used. Memel issued stamps between 1920 and 1923 when is was annexed by Lithuania. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 526]


After the Treaty of Versailles the Saar territory was administered by the League of Nations. It issued its own stamps from 1920 to 1935 when it retruned to Germany after a plebiscite. The first stamps were overprinted German and Bavarian stamps.After WWII the Saar territory came under French administration and issued its own stamps from 1947-1956. Following a referendum it was returned to Germany in 1956, and continued its stamps series until 1959. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 598]

"Third Reich", 1933-1945


During the "Third Reich" the Reichspost continued to function as a monopoly of the government under the auspices of the Reichspostministerium, and Nazi propaganda took hold and influenced stamp design and policy. The Hitler head stamp became the stamp for common usage, and a large number of semipostal stamps were issued. In the last year before the end of the war the stamp inscription "Deutsches Reich" was changed to "Grossdeutsches Reich" (Greater German Empire). Field post stamps were issued for the military forces starting in 1942. The world's first postal code system was introduced on July 25, 1941 with a two-digit number system. [wikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 71] This system was initially used for the packet service and later applied to all mail deliveries.fact|date=September 2008

udeten/Bohemia and Moravia

After the Munich agreement the Sudetenland became German territory in 1938 and initially, Czech stamps were used locally with an overprint, before German stamps became available. In 1939 Nazi Germany occupied part of Czechoslovakia, overprinted initially Czecholovakian stamps, and then issued stamps for "Bohemia and Moravia" until 1945. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 622, 630ff]

German WWII occupations

During the course of WWII German authorities issues stamps in Albania, Alsace, Belgium, Channel Islands, Estland, parts of France, Kotor, Kurland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland (General Government), parts of Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Zante, and Zara. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 628]

Divided Germany, 1945-1990

Local issues

In the process of the collapse of Nazi Germany, mail services became disrupted or ceased. Various communities established services locally during the void often using defaced Hitler stamps. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 727ff]

Allied occupation

With the occupation of Germany by the Allied powers postal services returned but were administered under different authorities. AM Post (AM = Allied Military) stamps were provided by the American and British occupation services during 1945 as the first step to restore mail service in their jurisdictions. By December 1945, the French authorities issued stamps for the "zone française", later to be supplemented by stamps for Baden, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Württemberg. In addition, separate stamps were provided for the Saar. In the Soviet zone, initally in 1945, various provinces released different stamps, namely Berlin-Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxonia (Ost Sachsen, West Sachsen, Provinz Sachsen), and Thuringia. In 1946, German stamps were issued as "Deutsche Post" for the American, British, and Soviet zones but not the French zone. The typical yellow color to signify post service was decreed by the Allied Control Council in 1946. [ [ Why is the postal service yellow-colored? (German)] ] With the development of the cold war, however, attempts to unify the postal system failed, - the common stamps were replaced by 1948 by definitives for the Soviet zone, and different sets of stamps for the bizone, already prior to the establishment of the two German republics.

Deutsche Bundespost Berlin

West Berlin under the jurisdiction of the three western powers started to release its own stamps on September 3, 1948. It continued to emit stamps under the "Deutsche Bundespost Berlin" label for 42 years, a total of over 800 different stamps, until the reunification in 1990. Many Berlin stamps were similar to the stamps of West Germany. West German and Berlin stamps could be used in either jurisdiction. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 1317]

Deutsche Post of the GDR

With the formation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the "Deutsche Post of the GDR" service was established as the governmental agency to provide mail services. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 929] Its first stamp was released on October 9, 1949. The production of these often beautiful stamps was prolific, about 3,000 different stamps were produced during the life of the existence of the DP, relatively low, however, was the number of semipostals. Stamps were to some degree used to gain currency abroad, that is some stamps were not produced for circulation but sold directly to stamp dealers. Also, for some sets a specific stamp was produced at an intentionally low number - called a "Sperrwert" (lit. blocked stamp value, or stamp with limited release) - to artificially increase the value and sell it for more money to stamp dealers. [ [ "Weniger ist mehr" (German)] Explaining the policy to limit production one stamp of a set to artificially increase its value, accessed 03-29-2008] With the 1990 reunification, the Deutsche Post became part of the ’’Deutsche Bundespost’’.

Deutsche Bundespost

When the Federal Republic of Germany was formed the "Deutsche Bundespost" (German federal post office) became the governmental agency with the monopoly for postal services; the name was adopted in 1950, prior it was called "Deutsche Post". [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 1549] The issue of the FRG was released on September 7 1949(Scott #665-666). In 1961 the two-digit postal code was replaced with a four-digit code. [wikiref |id=Mackey-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 71] , this was replaced after the reunification. By the time of the reunification about 1,400 different stamps had been issued. The process of converting the governmental agency into a public company was initiated in 1989 by separating postal services from post bank and communication services.

After the unification 1990

Deutsche Post AG

With the German reunification, the "Bundespost" with the incorporated "Deutsche Post" of the GDR provided postal services for the whole territory of the Federal Republic, and German stamps regardless of origin were postally valid until their date of expiration: for the stamps of the GDR Mi # 1004-3343 this was October 1, 1990, and for GDR Mi 3344-3365 December 12, 1991. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 1238] , the latter was the same date for the expiration of the West Berlin stamps Mi #326-879. [wikiref |id=Michel catalog-1997 |text=Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p. 1410] By 1993 a new five-digit postal code had been introduced. In 1995 the Bundespost was converted into a stock company, the ’’Deutsche Post AG’’ the shares of which became available in 2000. The company with its subsidiaries operates in logistics on a global scale.


According to the Scott catalogue, the following number of different stamps (regular and semipostal) were issued by the Reichspost (1871-1945), Deutsche Post (GDR) (1949-90), Deutsche Bundespost Berlin (1949-90), and Deutsche Bundespost (1949-90):

ee also

* List of people on stamps of the German Democratic Republic
* List of people on stamps of Germany

References and sources



External links

* [ Germany & Colonies Philatelic Society]
* [ Germany Philatelic Society]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Postage stamps and postal history of New Zealand — Postage stamps have been issued in New Zealand since around the 18th to 20th of July 1855 with the Chalon head stamps figuring Queen Victoria. The design was based on a full face portrait of the Queen in her state robes at the time of her… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Israel — The postage stamps and postal history of Israel is a survey of the postage stamps issued by the state of Israel, and its postal history, since independence was proclaimed on May 14 1948. The first postage stamps were issued two days later on May… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Estonia — This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Estonia. The postage stamps of Estonia are issued by the postal administration Eesti Post ( et. Eesti Post Audio|eestipost.ogg|listen which is the country s only provider of universal… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Hamburg — This article is about the postage stamps and postal history of Hamburg from the medieval messengers until the entry of the Hamburg Postal Administration into the Northern German Postal District in 1868.Historical developmentAfter the foundation… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Romania — This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Romania. The principality of Moldavia issued stamps immediately upon gaining autonomy in 1858, with the first cap de bour stamps being issued in July 1858. These were produced by… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Austria — This article deals with the stamps and postal history of Austria. (pre stamp postal history here) Monarchy, 1850 1918 The postage stamp issues of Austria began on 1 June 1850 with a series of imperforate typographed stamps featuring the coat of… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of Denmark — This article is an overview of the postage stamps and postal history of Denmark. Early postal history Denmark s postal history begins with an ordinance of 24 December 1624 by King Christian IV, establishing a national postal service . This… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of the Saar — This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the German territory of the Saar. As a border region contested between France and Germany, the Saar has a somewhat complicated philatelic history. (Note that although the state is… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of German East Africa — German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, including what is now Burundi, Rwanda and Tanganyika (the mainland part of present Tanzania). It came into existence during the 1880s and ended during World War I, when the area was taken… …   Wikipedia

  • Postage stamps and postal history of the Caroline Islands — Early mail sent to and from the Caroline Islands was occasional and dependent on visiting ships; the Spanish authorities issued no postage stamps or postmarks for the islands.Germany rapidly set up a postal system once awarded the islands; having …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.