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This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Germanymarker and philatelically related areas. The main modern providers of service were the Reichspost (1871-1945), the Deutsche Post under Allied control (1945 - 1949), 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 Ages 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

Franz von Taxis on a 1967 DBP stamp, Scott #971
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. 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 Kocsmarker giving rise to the term "coach".



Image:Thurn and Taxis 25.jpg| Thurn and Taxis stamp, Northern District, 1865.Image:Thurn and Taxis 52.jpg| Thurn and Taxis stamp, Southern District, 1859.

Thurn and Taxis lost its monopoly when Napoleon granted the Rhine Confederationmarker the right to conduct postal services. 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, Bavariamarker first on November 1, 1849 with the one kreuzer black. States or entities that issued stamps subsequently were Baden (1851), Bergedorfmarker (1861), Braunschweigmarker (1852), Bremenmarker (1855), Hamburgmarker (1859), Hannovermarker (1850), Heligolandmarker (1867), Lubeckmarker (1859), Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1856), Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1864), Oldenburgmarker (1852), Prussia (1850), Saxonymarker (1850), Schleswig-Holsteinmarker (1850), and Wurttembergmarker (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 Confederationmarker 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.

Imperial Germany, 1871-1918

Reichspost

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. Heinrich von Stephan, inventor of the postcard and founder of the Universal Postal Unionmarker, was the first Postmaster-General. 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

Caroline Islands, Mi #19


Early postage from about 1887 or 1888 consisted of common contemporary German stamps and is only recognized by the post office cancellation stamp as having been used in a colony. Such stamps are known as "Vorläufer" (forerunner) stamps. In the next step regular stamps were used with overprints indicating the name of the territory. Generally by 1896 and thereafter overprinted stamps were issued by the German authorities for all colonies:German South West Africa, German New Guinea, Kiatschou, Togomarker, Samoamarker, Marshall Islandsmarker, Mariana Islandsmarker, Caroline Islandsmarker, German East Africa and Kamerun. By about 1900 the yacht issue was introduced for the various colonial territories with had a uniform appearance depicting the imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern. After Germany lost control of its colonies in the course of World War I, overprinted yacht stamps were temporarily used by the new colonial rulers.

German offices abroad

Imperial Germany maintained post offices in certain towns in Maroccomarker, Turkeymarker, and Chinamarker. Issued stamps can be recognized by the cancellation stamp or the overprint may show local denomination and the name of the country.

German WWI occupations

During world war I, German authorities issued stamps in occupied countries, namely Belgiummarker, Polandmarker, Romaniamarker, and areas of the western and eastern front.

Weimar Republic, 1918-1933



Reichspost

The Reichspost continued to function as a governmental entity after Germany became a republicmarker. In 1919 the Reichspost issued its first commemorative, airmail, and semipostal stamps. 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.

Danzig

After the Treaty of Versailles the Free City of Danzigmarker was established as an independent entity in 1920. At first German stamps were still used, after a while overprinted with "Danzig". 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 Lithuaniamarker.

Saar

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 returned to Germany after a plebiscite. The first stamps were overprinted German and Bavarian stamps.After World War II the Saar territory came under Frenchmarker 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.

"Third Reich", 1933-1945

Reichspost

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. This system was initially used for the packet service and later applied to all mail deliveries.
Semipostal from 1944 (Scott B282)


Sudeten/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.

German WWII occupations

During the course of World War II German authorities issues stamps in Albaniamarker, Alsacemarker, Belgiummarker, Channel Islands, Estland, parts of Francemarker, Kotormarker, Kurland, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Luxemburgmarker, Macedoniamarker, Montenegromarker, Polandmarker (General Government), parts of Russiamarker, Serbiamarker, Sloveniamarker, Ukrainemarker, Zantemarker, and Zara.

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.

Allied occupation

Common issue 1946, Scott #556
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-Pfalzmarker, and Württembergmarker. In addition, separate stamps were provided for the Saar. In the Soviet zone, initially in 1945, various provinces released different stamps, namely Berlinmarker-Brandenburgmarker, Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker, Saxonia (Ost Sachsen, West Sachsen, Provinz Sachsen), and Thuringiamarker. 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. 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.

Deutsche Post of the GDR



With the formation of the German Democratic Republicmarker (GDR) the Deutsche Post of the GDR service was established as the governmental agency to provide mail services. 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. With the 1990 reunification, the Deutsche Post became part of the ’’Deutsche Bundespost’’.

Deutsche Bundespost

Stamp of the first set of the Bundespost, 1949, Scott #666
When the Federal Republic of Germanymarker 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". 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., 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

Soccer stamp of the Deutsche Post, 2000, Scott #2063

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., the latter was the same date for the expiration of the West Berlin stamps Mi #326-879. 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.

Statistics

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):
Postal Authority Regular stamps issued Semipostals issued Combined
Reichspost 556 293 849
Deutsche Post 2,805 191 2,996
Deutsche Bundespost Berlin 592 285 877
Deutsche Bundespost 955 395 1,350
Totals 4,908 1,164 6,072


See also



References and sources

Notes
  1. Mackay 1988, p.9
  2. Mackay 1988, p.26
  3. Mackay 1988, p.10-11
  4. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p46 and p.178
  5. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.210
  6. "History of postage stamps"
  7. German Colonies Collectors Group
  8. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.326ff
  9. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.606ff
  10. Mackay 1988, p.99
  11. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.422ff
  12. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.456ff
  13. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.526
  14. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.598
  15. Mackay 1988, p.71
  16. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.622, 630ff
  17. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.628
  18. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.727ff
  19. Why is the postal service yellow-colored? (German)
  20. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.1317
  21. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.929
  22. "Weniger ist mehr" (German) Explaining the policy to limit production one stamp of a set to artificially increase its value, accessed 03-29-2008
  23. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.1549
  24. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.1238
  25. Michel Deutschland Spezial 1997, p.1410


Sources




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