Many types of German postage stamps are popular with different collectors these days; the stamp history of Germany is very extensive, and comprises one of the busiest areas of stamp collecting in the hobby today.
German Empire stamps, 1872 — 1919
The first stamps of a unified Germany were issued in 1872, inscribed DEUTSCHES REICHS-POST in reference to the German Empire, known in German as “Deutsches Reich”. With an embossed imperial eagle in an otherwise white circle in the center, these first issues showed an ingenuity and willingness to embrace new and unusual technology.
Wilhelm I, who had ruled since unification, died in 1888, and his son Frederick III took over. Frederick III died of illness after three months however, and Wilhelm II took over. Frederick III never appeared on a postage stamp of the time; Wilhelm II first appeared in 1900. In 1889, the inscription on German stamps was shortened to REICHSPOST; the imperial eagle continued to be used often, and soon other subjects began to appear.
Weimar Republic, 1919 — 1933
In 1919, in the aftermath of the German loss in World War I, a Republic was declared, ending the Empire and necessitating a new constitution. A few stamps were issued inscribed DEUTSCHE NATIONALVERSAMMLUNG (“German National Assembly”), referring to a transitional period from 1919 to 1920 and to the Verfassunggebende Deutsche Nationalversammlung, or “German Constitutional Convention”. The official name of Germany at this time was “Weimarer Nationalversammlung”. After the adoption of the new constitution, the new Weimar Republic stamps continued to be issued regularly and still used DEUTSCHES REICH as their inscription. Hyperinflation in the early 1920s created stamps surcharged to a value of up to several billion Deutschmarks.
Nazi-era stamps, 1933 — 1945
As the Weimar era ended, Nazi images and ideas influenced German postage stamps from 1933 — swastikas, Aryan supermen, and images of Hitler Youth replaced the writers, scenes, and emblems of German stamps of the previous decade. The Third Reich issued few stamps during World War II; nearly all featured a portrait of Hitler.
Split into East and West
After the war, Germany split into East Germany and West Germany; different postal authorities would issue stamps for each of the two parts until reunification in 1990.
The 1990 reunification of East and West Germany into a single Germany was celebrated with a simple but effective postage stamp design featuring, in large letters, DEUTSCHE EINHEIT (“German Unification”) and the German flag. Stamps from 1990 onward continued to be inscribed with DEUTSCHE BUNDESPOST, as they had been in West Germany since the split at the end of the 1940s.
Modern German postal issues have included many types of subjects and commemorations, and several special souvenir sheets, maxicards, and others collectibles. Unhinged (MNH) stamps, air mail stamps, joint issues, cinderella stamps, newspaper stamps, and other types of philatelic collectibles are available in the marketplace. Browse our current listings, and come back to see the newest offers daily.
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