A German Stamp Collection

Germany is a wonderful country to collect. There are many different areas that can be collected. Anyone can find an area that interests them. For someone just starting, the best advice is to buy what you can afford, roam the entire collecting area and finally settle on areas that interest you.

It doesn't have to be expensive, there are many stamps that cost pennies. A cheap "packet" of 500 or 1,000 different German stamps is a great start towards a fine collection. Here, in this "beginner's area", we will try to provide both information and affordable stamps for your collecting interests.Let's do it right and start at the beginning:

German Empire, 1872 to the end of WW I

The catalogs start with the January 1, 1872 issues, but the Empire actually was formed on May 4, 1871. Stamps of the old "North German Confederation" (NGC) were used until the new "small shield" issue was released on January 1, 1872. Neither the NGC or the new Empire included Bavaria or Wurttemberg (nor were their stamps valid in the Empire). These two states continued to operate their own postal systems but had to follow the same rules (and rates) as the Empire's system. The point here is that any NGC stamp canceled on or after May 4, 1871 (keep in mind the European method of cancel dates, day, then month, then year. Hence a first day cancel would read 4.5.71 or something like that) is a German Empire stamp.


The small shield issue actually showed up at the post offices a little early and pre 1.1.72 dates can be found. In mid year, the center embossing was changed to the large shield design. The Kaiser didn't like the small shield design and it was wrong anyway!

Telling the small and large shield issues apart isn't as easy as it sounds. Often, the center embossing has been pressed out or is hard to see. If the shield in the center of the eagle can be seen, fine. If not, look for the longer "ribbon" around the top crown and the bigger, "blobby" feathers at the top and bottom.

Beginner's Offer #1 - - $3.00
Scott #4 (small shield), #16, 17, 18 (large shield). Four used stamps, Scott Catalog value $18.00.

The highest face value stamps are cheaper mint then used because there were a large number of mint remainers sold to dealers at a later date. Beware of pressed out and re-embossed 2 Kr. large shield stamps made from the small shield cheaper stamps.

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This contains excerpts from my new book The Secrets of German Philately © AJ Jensen, 1998