World Stamps

Germany commemorates first stamps of unified system

Aug 24, 2018, 4 AM

By Michael Baadke

Germany will issue a new €0.70 postage stamp Sept. 13 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the country’s first unified postal system.

The stamp-on-stamp design by Ursula Lautenschlager pictures four issues of the postal district of the North German Confederation. The confederation was established in 1867 following the Second Schleswig War of 1864 pitting Prussia against Denmark, and the 1866 Austro-Prussian War.

King Wilhelm I and Prussian minister president Otto von Bismarck created the confederation dominated by Prussia, unifying the 22 German states north of the Main River.

Postal laws for the confederation went into effect on Jan. 1, 1868, but because a unified currency had not been established, typographed stamps using three different currencies were issued.

The northern district used the thaler for currency, with 30 groschen equaling 1 thaler. Six stamps denominated ¼gr, ?gr, ½gr, 1gr, 2gr and 5gr were issued. The text-only design reads “Norddeutscher Postbezirk” (North German Postal District) inside a round double ring (Scott 1-6).

The southern district used the gulden, with 60 kreuzer equaling 1 gulden. Stamps denominated 1kr, 2kr, 3kr, 7kr and 18kr were issued for the southern district (Scott 7-11). The “Norddeutscher Postbezirk” inscription on these stamps appears within an oval.

The four classic issues shown on the new German Stamp Day stamp are the 1gr rose at upper left, 7kr ultramarine at upper right, 1kr green at lower left, and ½gr orange at lower right. Not shown on the new stamp is an example of the third currency variety, a single nondenominated (½-schilling) lilac brown stamp issued in 1868 for use in Hamburg (Scott 12).

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter

The rouletted stamps for all three regions are also known imperforate. Perforated varieties were issued in 1869, and Official stamps for government use appeared in 1870.

The southern German states of Baden, Bavaria, Hesse and Wurttemberg joined with the North German Confederation as France declared war on Prussia. With the French defeat in 1871, the German Empire was declared by Bismarck in Versailles, with Wilhelm I as kaiser (emperor).

The denomination of the new €0.70 Stamp Day stamp fulfills the current German domestic letter rate for mail weighing up to 20 grams (about 0.7 ounces).

The new issue comes a little more than one year after a €3.20 stamp was issued on July 13, 2017, for the 150th anniversary of the 1867 North German Confederation (Scott 2985). The design of the 2017 stamp shows a red seal impressed with the arms of the confederation’s members.