World Stamps

Dramatic designs highlight Germany 1933 Wagner semipostals

Jul 26, 2023, 10 AM
The set of nine Germany 1933 Operas by Richard Wagner semipostal stamps (Scott B49-B57) is popular with music topical collectors.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Richard Wagner (1813-83), one of the most influential composers of the 19th century, was born in Leipzig, Saxony, in the same year that the historic Battle of Nations was fought there.

The allied coalition of Prussia, Russia, Austria and Sweden inflicted a decisive defeat on France and Napoleon’s satellite armies. Soldiers from Saxony fought on both sides in the battle, and the stupendous conflict seemed to foreshadow the heroic and romantic themes of Wagner’s music.

Unlike most composers, Wagner wrote both the music and libretto for his operas. His synthesizing of poetic, visual, dramatic and musical elements transformed and fully realized opera as an art form. Despite his musical genius, his antisemitism has sometimes consigned his work to a kind of musical limbo.

On Nov. 1, 1933, Germany issued a set of nine semipostal stamps (Scott B49-B57) celebrating operas by Wagner. The surtax was for emergency relief.

The striking designs of the colorful stamps show scenes from nine of Wagner’s operatic works: Tannhauser; Der Fliegende Hollander; Das Rheingold; Die Meistersinger; Die Walkure; Siegfried; Tristan und Isolde; Lohengrin; and Parsifal.

The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 values the set at $387.50 in very fine grade and unused, hinged condition and $2,360 in mint, never-hinged condition.

In addition to its appeal to collectors of Germany, this set is popular with music topical collectors. It is a good buy in very fine grade and unused hinged condition at up to $275.

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