Germany Stamps Identification and Value Guide

German Empire


The Deutsche Reichspost was formed on May 4, 1871, after the fall of France and unification of Germany in the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871). The Deutsche Reichspost initially used stamps of the North German Confederation. On January 1, 1872 the Reichspost issued its first stamps intended for use across Germany, with the exception of Bavaria and Wurtemberg which continued to issue stamps independently.

The first German stamps were denominated using two different currencies, groschen and thaler for use in the former North German Confederation and kreuzer and gulden for use in the southern states. In 1875 German currency was standardized to pfennig and mark.

The stamps of 1872 to 1874 consist of four basic types. The lower value stamps have a colored frame that includes the country name and denomination with an embossed center featuring the Imperial Eagle and Shield. There are two types of embossed center - small shield and large shield. The embossing can be difficult to examine on used copies where it is often faint and obscured by cancels. As can be seen in the graphic below, beyond the shield size and shape, there are numerous additional design differences that can be useful in distinguishing the embossing. There were two higher valued stamps - a gray ten groschen with an oval frame and blue 30 groschen with a rectangular frame.

Germany Small vs Large Shield
Small and large shield embossings compared.
There are many small differences to help with identification.

Germany Imperial Eagle with Small Shield
Imperial Eagle with Small Shield
Inscribed Deutsche Reichs Post
Type 1


Typographed. Center Embossed. Unwatermarked. Perforated 13½x14½.

¼ groschenviolet - type 1$220.00$100.00
⅓ groschengreen - type 1$490.00$32.00
½ groschenorange-red - type 1$1,000.00$44.00
1 groschenrose - type 1$290.00$6.00
2 groschenultramarine - type 1$1,550.00$15.50
5 groschenbister - type 1$950.00$95.00
1 kreuzergreen - type 1$660.00$57.50
2 kreuzerorange - type 1$40.00$170.00
3 kreuzerrose - type 1$1,725.00$13.25
7 kreuzerultramarine - type 1$2,300.00$95.00
18 kreuzerbister - type 1$520.00$400.00

Germany Value in Oval
Value in Oval
Inscribed Deutsche Reichs Post
Type 2
Germany Value in Rectangle
Value in Rectangle
Inscribed Deutsche Reichs Post
Type 3


Typographed. Unwatermarked. Perforated 14½x13½.

10 groschengray - type 2$57.50$1325.00
30 groschenblue - type 3$115.00$2300.00

Germany Imperial Eagle with Large Shield
Imperial Eagle with Large Shield
Inscribed Deutsche Reichs Post
Type 4


Typographed. Center Embossed. Unwatermarked. Perforated 13½x14½.

¼ groschenviolet - type 4$70.00$95.00
⅓ groschenyellow green - type 4$35.00$15.00
½ groschenorange - type 4$40.00$4.25
1 groschenrose - type 4$50.00$2.25
2 groschenultramarine - type 4$22.00$5.00
2½ groschenorange brown - type 4$2,075.00$65.00
5 groschenbister - type 4$33.50$33.50
1 kreuzeryellow green - type 4$37.50$28.75
2 kreuzerorange - type 4$545.00$2185.00
3 kreuzerrose - type 4$25.75$4.00
7 kreuzerultramarine - type 4$33.25$75.00
9 kreuzerred brown - type 4$315.00$260.00
18 kreuzerbister - type 4$37.50$2010.00

Germany Imperial Eagle with Large Shield Overprinted
Imperial Eagle with Large Shield, Overprinted
Inscribed Deutsche Reichs Post
Type 5


Typographed. Unwatermarked. Perforated 14½x13½.

The higher values the large eagle series of 1872 had very similar colors, shades of brown, which led to frequent mistakes confusing the 2½ groschen with the 5 groschen, and the 9 kreuzer with the 18 kreuzer. To make the stamps easier to distinguish, in 1874 the 2½ groschen and the 9 kreuzer were reissued with the numeral of value boldly printed over the embossed center in the same color as the background. While these stamps are frequently referred to as the "surcharged" issue, that naming is somewhat inaccurate because there was no actual surcharge associated with the issue, simply an overprinting for visual clarity.

2½ groschenorange brown - type 5$40.00$45.00
9 kreuzerred brown - type 5$75.00$315.00

These prices for German stamps are provided as a service to readers of The Stamp Collector website. They are derived from numerous sources such as dealer price lists, advertisements in philatelic publications, and public auction results. Use these values as a guideline for evaluating the reasonableness of dealer prices, setting up trades with other collectors, and estimating the worth of your collection. The value of an individual stamp is dependent on its centering and condition. The prices listed here are for well centered, undamaged stamps. A particularly nice example might sell for more than the amount listed, while a poor copy might be worth less.

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