Germany after World War I was a place of much suffering and soul searching. On how to move forward, people had different ideas, and indeed different stamp offerings. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
Todays stamp in a 1920 printing of a stamp that first appeared in 1902. The statement at the bottom of the stamp translates into always united. The symbols of the stamp relate to symbols of German unification in 1870 under the Prussian King. Germany had just lost a little over 2 million soldiers plus over 800 thousand civilians to the Allied blockade and the Spanish flu. The economy was devastated and the last Kaiser Wilhelm II had abdicated both his German and his Prussian title and was in exile in Holland. A new constitution had been ratified making a much smaller, not united German Republic.
So how could this stamp still be in use in 1920. Without even a Spanish style overprint to track the flip flopping. There were other stamps out at the time that reflect more the situation. There was a much less grandly printed stamp showing a live tree stump with a little new growth. It was to show Germany surviving the difficulties. Reich does not appear on it. It might have been too much for everyone to just suddenly fall into line. While acknowledging the defeat not all were ready to abandon the ideal of all German people united under one government. For a while at least people could display their future hopes on their letters. An austere but freer and less aggressive Germany or a return to the vision of a strong united Germany.
One should also contrast the visuals of the stamp with the later issues of the Nazis.Those stamp offerings came from a very different tradition that was more in tune with populism. This 1920 stamp is just not that. It appeals more to the old aristocracy, trying to inspire a new Bismarck to put the old system back together.
Todays stamp is issue A21, a 2.5 Mark stamp issued by Germany in 1920. The obvious difference between it and the 1902 version is the higher denomination. This reflects to inflation gripping Germany as money was printed to meet obligations both foreign and domestic. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 50 cents mint. The prewar version of the stamp with a lower denomination and a different color is worth $120 mint. Collectors seem to side with the early believers rather than the somewhat pathetic holdouts of 1920. Remember one thing the Weimar Republic was great about was keeping the printing presses humming.
There still are a few holdouts. Huis Doom, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s home in exile in Holland still hosts 25,000 Germans annually on his birthday celebrating German Royalty. Kaiser Wilhelm is buried at this home as he refused Hitler’s offer to be buried in Germany until the House of Hohenzollern is back on the throne, at least of Prussia.
Well my drink is empty and this stamp has me wondering which stamp my maternal German ancestors would have used. I expect the Reich stamp but my German cousins today would prefer the live tree stump stamp, or more likely just a Euroland stamp offering. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.