World Stamps

Mint Official stamps of East Germany a challenge to find

May 31, 2023, 8 AM
Official stamps of East Germany are generally much more difficult to find in mint, never-hinged condition than are the country’s regular postage stamps.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

The German Democratic Republic (or DDR, from the German “Deutsches Demokratische Republic”), familiarly known as East Germany, is a dead country. It grew out of the Soviet zone of occupation of Germany at the conclusion of World War II.

The country was formally founded on Oct. 7, 1949. It died on Oct. 3, 1990, with the birth of German reunification.

Despite generally high design and production values, the stamps of East Germany have not enjoyed a wide following beyond dedicated collectors of Germany and related areas.

Like most Eastern European communist states, East Germany issued a vast number of stamp issues and flooded the market with canceled-to-order stamps sold in bulk at steep discounts from face value to stamp dealers for the packet trade.

Because CTOs are so prevalent, the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values for used East German stamps from Scott 48 to 2831 are for stamps in CTO condition.

We have noticed a slight increase in interest in East German stamps, perhaps attributable to nostalgia for the Cold War period when the line between friend and foe was much more clearly delineated.

From the mid-1950s on, East German stamps in mint, never-hinged condition were widely distributed to dealers and collectors. Most issues are still readily available.

An exception is East German Official stamps. Mint Official stamps were not publicly sold until after they had gone out of use, at which time remainders were sold abroad by the government stamp sales agency.

East German Official stamps are generally much more difficult to find in mint, never-hinged condition than are the regular postage stamps.

Look for the first set of Arms of the Republic Official stamps (Scott O1-O17) issued in 1954. The Scott Standard catalog values the set at $189.75, and it is a good buy at 50 percent to 60 percent of Scott catalog value.

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