Postage stamps and postal history of Germany
This is a survey of the
postagestamps and postal historyof Germanyand 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).
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 guildof 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 emblemfor 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 Taxisestablished 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 [http://books.google.com/books?id=QjQAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=taxi+maximilian+post+quarterly&source=web&ots=GeUNpk5uD9&sig=mD_g9hPCBFvqy1EKoruTgFaxGfY&hl=en] ] A horse relay system was created that shortened the transit time for mail and made its arrival predictable. Thereafter, the house of Thurn and Taxisusing 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 Kocsgiving rise to the term "coach". [wikiref |id=Mackay-1988 |text=Mackay 1988, p. 26]
Thurn and Taxis lost its monopoly when
Napoleongranted the Rhine Confederationthe 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.
Prior to the
German unificationof 1871, individual German statesand entities started to release their own stamps, Bavariafirst on November 1, 1849with 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 Taxiswhile 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 Confederationin 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 postcardand founder of the Universal Postal Union, was the first Postmaster-General. [ [http://www.border-control-solutions.de/en/products/products_secPrinting/secPrinting_stamps/stamps_history/index.html "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.
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 Africaand Kamerun. These stamps had a uniform appearance depicting the imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Regular German stamps with overprintwere 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
Reichspost" continued to function as a governmental entity after Germany became a republic. In 1919 the Reichspost issued its first commemorative, airmail, and semipostalstamps. [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 Zeppelinstamps appeared in 1928, Scott # C35-37.
Treaty of Versaillesa 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 Danzigwas 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 Postmaintained a presence in Danzig and issued "Port Gdansk" overprinted Polish stamps.
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 propagandatook hold and influenced stamp design and policy. The Hitlerhead stamp became the stamp for common usage, and a large number of semipostalstamps 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 poststamps were issued for the military forces starting in 1942. The world's first postal codesystem 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
Munich agreementthe Sudetenlandbecame 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
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]
occupation of Germanyby the Allied powerspostal 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 Councilin 1946. [ [http://www.deutschepost.de/dpag?tab=1&skin=hi&check=yes&lang=de_DE&xmlFile=link1015255_15307 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 Berlinunder 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. [ [http://www.brandeins-wissen.de/Downloads/McK/mck11_10.pdf "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’’.
Federal Republic of Germanywas 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 codewas 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
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 logisticson 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):
List of people on stamps of the German Democratic Republic
List of people on stamps of Germany
References and sources
* [http://www.germanphilately.org/ Germany & Colonies Philatelic Society]
* [http://www.gps.nu/ Germany Philatelic Society]
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