A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Kaiser and his Horse: Loose or Tight Reins Variations

"Tighter horse rein" noted on Scott 94 (Michel 96B II)
"Deutsches Reich" inscribed 3m violet gray 
The Question
I was examining my engraved DEUTSCHES REICH inscribed "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" stamps ("Enthüllung des Denkmals Kaiser Wilhelm I, Berlin"), and noticed a tighter horse rein (Zügel straff) in the grip of the Kaiser on a Scott 94 (Michel 96B II). But my other Scott 94 stamp had a loose rein; the rein hung down more (Zügel durchhängend).

Illustrated below...

Two Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) stamps
The upper has loose horse reins, the lower has tighter horse reins
Enlarge image to see well : Agree or disagree?
Could this be a major new variation or type discovered by a general world wide classical era collector, which has been missed by thousands of avid Germany specialty collectors?    ;-)  As far as being missed, I suspect not, as the changes and variations are quite obvious.  But since I independently discovered them, I will take credit for them here. ;-)

This blog will analyse the Deutsches Reich inscribed 3m "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" stamp that was in production from 1902 to 1919, and during that time, had 5 Scott numbers assigned to them.  But more specifically, we will look at the design around the Kaiser and his horse and the "Loose or Tight Reins" variations.

Some background....

It is well known by the rest of the world that the earlier 1900 REICHPOST inscribed 3m  "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" comes in two major types. This is illustrated on page 360 of the Michel Deutschland Spezial 2010 Band 1. The Scott 64 (Michel 65) is subdivided by Michel into Type I (65 I), and Type II (65 II).

I say "the rest of the world", because Scott does not recognize or display these types.  A very good reason to have a Michel if one is at all interested in the German stamp realm.  ;-)

Let's look at the REICHPOST Type I.....

Michel 65I (Type I)  REICHPOST issue- Note the looser reins of the horse
One should note the looser rein of the horse. But let's take a close-up look....

Michel 65I (Type I) close-up- note a looser rein
And the Kaiser's upper body leans back slightly
With a  convex (rounder) front (Breastplate) profile 
Note there is no "white indentation" between the Kaiser's hand and his front torso

Michel Type I has all the above characteristics. It will perhaps be clearer when one compares to Type II below. 

REICHPOST Michel 65 II (Type II) exhibiting tight or straight horse reins.
Note the tighter horse reins in Type II of the REICHPOST issue. But there are more differences that a close-up view will highlight.

Close-up of REICHPOST Type II-Note tight/straight reins
Also, a "white indentation" between the Kaiser's hand and his front torso
And the front (Breastplate) profile of the torso is angled straight, not curved
Summarizing the differences:
A) Loose rein (Type I) vs tight rein (Type II)
B) Kaiser's torso leans back slightly in Type I
C) Rounder (Type I) vs straight angled (Type II) front Breastplate torso profile
D) "White indentation" noted between the Kaiser's hand and his front torso in Type II

Fine and good.
But what does that have to do with the DEUTSCHES REICH inscribed 3m stamps?
Well, Michel DOES NOT report differences (or Types) for the 3m DEUTSCHES REICH inscribed issues!

Yet my eyes tell me there IS a difference between the two Scott 94 stamps I have.

So let's examine the evidence, sift it through, and then come to a (tentative) conclusion.

The Evidence
If you have read the 1871-1921 German blog just presented, you know these Germania era stamps come in a bewildering variety.

A) We discussed watermarking to separate out these stamps. The 1902 Deutsches Reich 3m does not have a watermark. The 1905-13 Pre-War (Friedensdruck) 3m does have a watermark, as well as the 1915-19 War (Kreigsdruck) 3m stamp. Scott calls the watermark "Lozenges"-wmk 125, while Michel calls them "Rauten" (Diamonds).

The "Lozenges" watermark is on the left

B) Counting the perforation holes. The 3m "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" design come in 25X16, 26X17 and 25X17 holes for the Deutsches Reich inscribed stamps. ( Also various perforations, but I will use perforation holes to separate out here.)

C) The 3m stamps are reported in different shades. This might help with identification.

So let us take a look at the 3m stamps in my collection and verify their issue and catalogue number by using the tools above. We will then provide a close-up of the Kaiser and horse for each stamp issue of the Deutsches Reich inscribed stamps, and carefully examine the position of the horse's reins.

Let's take a look again at the two Scott 94 stamps in my collection (Michel 96B II)...

Scott 94's (Michel 96B II) with the loose rein/tight rein varieties 
How do we know they are Scott 94's?
Wmk Lozenges, 25X17 holes, Color violet gray (schwarzviolettgrau)
The stamps are watermarked "Lozenges", so that places them either in the Pre-War 1905-13 or War 1915-1919 issues. 
But they both have 25X 17 perforation holes (Go ahead, count!), and that slots them, as the only choice, in the War 1915-19 issue. They are, therefore, Scott 94 (Michel 96B II). (The 26X17 holes Pre-War or War varieties, therefore, has been eliminated.)

The color does look to me to be compatible with "violet gray", the color Scott has for this issue.

Here is a scan of the back of the stamps....

Scan of the back of the Scott 94's: loose/tight rein varieties
One can make out the "Lozenges: watermarks

Pic of the Scott 94's: loose/tight rein varieties
In the tray with watermarking fluid applied
Although one can see the "Lozenges" watermarks in the scan, the watermarking pic leaves no doubt. ;-)

So this establishes that the stamps are indeed Scott 94's (Michel 96B II). If you disagree, please comment.

Let's now take a look at the earlier year issues of the Deutsches Reich inscribed  3m "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" stamps, at least those that are in my collection. We will take a look at each stamp, then a close-up of the Kaiser and horse for each stamp. As a result, We will  have some evidence to judge the "loose/tight reins"  varieties.

First, the 1902 unwatermarked issue, Scott 77 ( Michel 80A)...

1902 Scott 77 (Michel 80A) 3m with loose reins
How do we know it is Scott 77?
Unwatermarked, 26X17 holes, color black violet (schwarzviolett)
The stamp is unwatermarked (scan and pic later), and the perforation holes are 26X17 (count them!). The hole count eliminates the somewhat less common 25X16 variety.
The color is compatible with "black violet", and definitely has a different shade than the "violet gray" seen with the Scott 94's.

Let's have a close up of the 1902 Scott 77....

Close-up of 1902 Scott 77
Notice the somewhat droopy reins?
Clearly, my copy of the 1902 3m shows the Kaiser holding the reins in a loose (Zügel durchhägend) fashion.
This is the normal and typical way the the reins should present.

Next, the 1905-13 pre-war Scott 94a (Michel 96A I)...

1905-13 Scott 94a (Michel 96A I) 3m with loose reins
How do we know it is Scott 94a?
Wmk Lozenges, 26X17 holes, color brownish violet (schwarzbraunviolett)
This stamp is watermarked Lozenges, and has 26X17 perforation holes (count them!). The 26X 17 hole variety was issued after 1911, and the "brownish violet" color after October, 1912. The postmark is compatible with this criteria. True, there was a "rare" 26X17 War variety issued, but only after May,1919.

The color is definitely compatible with "brownish violet", and looks different than either the 1902 "black violet", or the 1915-19 War "violet gray" I have in the collection.

Before we continue, here is a pic of the unwatermarked 1902 Scott 77 and the watermarked 1905-13 Scott 94a.

1902 Scott 77 (Michel 80A) above : unwatermarked 
1905-13 Scott 94a (Michel 96A I) below : wmk Lozenges
Quite clear ( to my eyes) that the top stamp is unwatermarked, while the bottom is obviously watermarked.

Let's take a closer look at Scott 94a....

Close-up of 1905-13 Scott 94a (Michel 96A I)
Hmmm,, it droops a little, but not as much as my Scott 77
The close-up is quite revealing, and may offer a clue to the loose/tight reins seen with the Scott 94's. Yes, the reins do droop a bit, but not as much as was seen with the Scott 77. Also, the reins seems a little broader in this illustration. Important? Maybe.

Now we are getting to the heart of the question. Let's take a look at the "loose rein" Scott 94...

1915-19 Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) with loose reins
Wmk Lozenges, 25X17 holes, Color violet gray (schwarzviolettgrau)
Here is the "loose rein" example of Scott 94. We haven't, though, yet, had a close-up of horse and rider.

  The close-up...

Close-up of 1915-19 Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) with loose horse reins
Quite obvious here, with clear "Zügel durchhägend"
No doubt the reins are quite relaxed and droopy here. The reins appear to be not as broad in width as those seen in Scott 94a, but  perhaps slightly thicker than Scott 77.

Now for the last, and most important example: the "tight" rein Scott 94....

1915-19 Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) with tight horse reins
Wmk Lozenges, 25X17 holes, Color violet gray (schwarzviolettgrau)
The reins appear tight (certainly compared to the other Scott 94) even with an overall view of the stamp, but let's get a close, than an even closer look...

Closer look of Scott 94 (Michel 96B II)
Those reins look pretty tight!
A closer view confirms that, for this stamp example, the reins look "straight", perhaps only having the slightest concave suggestion. Compared to the earlier "loose rein" Scott 94, shouldn't the differences be enough to give a "Type" to these stamps?  ;-)

Now for the close-up....

Close-up of Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) with "tight" horse reins
Quite dramatic difference compared to the "loose" rein variety
Wow! There is no doubt that there is a visible and significant difference between these stamps, most clearly seen with the two Scott 94 (Michel 96B II) examples.

Here is another view, with red arrows along the reins....

Loose reins Scott 94

Tight reins Scott 94

Well now it is time to remove the stardust from our eyes, and do some critical thinking...

Analysis and Conclusion
I think you will agree that there are clear differences between these Deutsches Reich stamps as demonstrated by the appearance of the horse's rein. Absolutely no doubt. ( But, as far as I can tell, there is no difference in the appearance of the Kaiser as one saw with the REICHPOST stamps.)

Well, what is causing the apparent differences in appearance?

Do we have an engraving change, unknown to Michel?

I doubt that very much.

( I suppose there could have been minor plate "touch-up" done, but I have no knowledge on that score.)

(Perhaps too there was some minor changes between issues, but Michel makes no mention of this.)

Do we have a printing (stamp impression) difference?

I think we are getting much closer.

As you may be aware by now, the "reins" are made visible by the absence of pigment. They are not drawn in, except in an "outline" sense. So any "bleeding" of pigment, or local lack of pigment in the area will change the shape of the reins.

Certainly, a large clue is that all the "rein" shapes varied-  from subtle to obvious.

Then do we have a MAJOR stamp type(s)?  ;-)

No and Yes.

Clearly, this is not an engraving change that would signify "major", but it is definitely more than a haphazard fly-specking plate flaw.

The differences are quite obvious from stamp to stamp.

I do believe the archetype variations are definitely collectible.  And remember- differences much less than this are often given catalogue recognition.

Why don't you check your own Deutsches Reich 3m "Unveiling Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial, Berlin" stamp(s), and see if you can find similar variations?

And sending a note to Scott or Michel- well, who knows what will happen. ;-)

Caveat: Since I am a general classical era collector, not a German specialist, my speculations and theories here need to be taken with a grain of salt. ;-)

What do you think? Put your thoughts in  the "comment" section below.


  1. Hurray for close inspection. My copy appears to be of the short-rein variety. Shortness seems appropriate because so many tried to foreshorten Wilhelm II’s disastrous reign. None succeeded except the stamp designer, that is, not until WWI rained on his parade. Germany (and everyone else) would have benefitted from greater free rein during his reign (or is that an eggcorn?). In any case this stamp is so dark gloomy that free rain looks likely to Christen the statue. I’ll have to look for the free-reined variety.

  2. Bud-Good to hear from you. :-)

    Enjoyed your clever, pun-filled and humorous observation.