The history of stamps in Germany is tightly linked to its political history. In the Middle Ages, the first international courier service was founded by a guild of butchers in the 12th century. Once the 1600s came around, the postal service became a privilege of the nobility. Here is a brief look at the history of the German postal stamp in the past and its evolution into the stamps of today.
Thurn and Taxis
Since the northern and southern states in Germany had different currencies, there used to be two types of stamps issued. The House of Thurn and Taxis operated the post from 1806 and issued its first postal stamps in 1852. Stamps for the north were labeled in “Silbergroschen,” and stamps for the south were in ‘Kreuzer.’ In 1867, the noble house handed over postal rights to the Prussians State.
Stamps of the German States
With the Holy Roman Empire division, many of the German states were issuing their own stamps. In 1849, Bavaria was the first state to issue its own postage stamps. The other states that began to create their personal stamps included the Grand Duchies of Baden, Hessen and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Oldenburg, the three free Hanse cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lubeck, the Kingdoms of Hannover, the three free Hanse cities of Bremen, Hamburg, and Lubeck, Saxony, Prussia, and Wurttemberg.
In 1868, the northern German states joined the North German Confederation, and their postal services became a part of the North German Postal District. Bavaria and Wurttemberg, however, continued to issue stamps until 1920.
Stamps of the First Reich
In 1872 the first stamps of the German Empire were issued. To incorporate a new uniform decimal currency, a new series was issued in 1875. Another new series came out with the Imperial Eagle during Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd’s accession and a third between around 1900 depicting the female allegorical figure of Germania. The Germania stamps were used during the First World War and also into the Weimar Republic that followed.
Stamps of the Second Reich
In 1919, the Weimar Republic issued its first commemorative stamps for the sitting of the National Assembly. Due to high demand in 1923, stamps were being issued for up to 50 billion marks. The common stamp series were the “famous German people,” the Hindenburg stamps, and then the German Zeppelin stamps in 1928.
Stamps of Divided Germany
After the fall of the Nazi regime, Germany was divided into four zones by the Allied powers. The British and American control over the post is depicted in the ‘AM Post Deutschland’ inscriptions on the stamps. In 1946, Britain, the USA, and Russia combined their postal to the Deutsche Post. The German Federal Republic was formed with the American, British and French zones, the Deutsche Post building stamps continued to be issued. The Russian zone became the German Democratic Republic and issued its 3000, often beautiful, stamps from 1949 onwards until the unification in 1990.
Stamps of Reunited Germany
Once the East and West reunified, the Deutsche Post of the GDR was incorporated into the Bundespost. Any German stamps that were un-expired were used, and new stamps were inscribed with ‘Deutschland.’ From 1995, the Bundespost became known as the Deutsche Post AG, which continues to issue stamps today.