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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Germany: North German Confederation 1866-71

1869 Scott 15 1/2gr orange
Postmarked March 31, 1870
Quick History
The North German Confederation (Norddeutcher Bund) was a federation of independent "states" formed in 1866-67. This confederation had various Kingdoms, Grand Duchies, Duchies, Principalities, and Free Hanseatic cities, 22 of them in all, come together as the first "modern" German Nation State.

 North German Confederation 1866-71
For stamp collectors, that meant the German States of Prussia, Saxony, Oldenburg, Brunswick, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lubeck ceased issuing their own stamps. ( Hanover and Bergedorf  had already ceased, having been subsumed into Prussia and Hamburg respectively.)

Stamp production for the North German Confederation existed between 1868-1870.

Although not a German State, the House of Thurn and Taxis had a postal monopoly with horse drawn mail coaches throughout Europe. They had Northern District stamps (In Silver Groschen), and Southern District Stamps (In Kreuzer). When the North German Confederation was developed, Thurn and Taxis had to sell its monopoly in 1867.

Prior to the North German Confederation, there was the historic German Confederation (1815). But with the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia and its allies founded a military alliance (North German Federation), which quickly became a Confederation with a Constitution in 1867.

The Confederation agreed that the citizens would have free movement, a common postal system, passports, and equal rights for religious denominations.

The Constitution also allowed the southern German States to join. This in fact occurred in 1870-71, when Bavaria, Wurttemburg, Baden, and a part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse joined under a new Nation State- the German Empire (Deutsches Reich). The Flag and Constitution were virtually identical, but this was the formal end of the North German Confederation as such.

Curious who the 22 member States were? Here is a list, with an asterisk (*) for those States that had their own stamp production prior to joining the North German Confederation

The 22 member States of the North German Confederation 1866-71

State/Capital/Population figures for 1865-1910

(Note: Hanover*/Hanover/3,200,000 became a province of Prussia in 1866)

Grand Duchies

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha/Coburg/240,000

Reuss,junior line/Gera/145,000
Reuss,senior line/Greiz/?

Free Hanseatic cities
(Note: Bergedorf*/Bergedorf/3,000 was purchased by Hamburg in 1867)

As mentioned, the North German Confederation lasted until 1871. Prussia was by far the most dominant member with 80% of the territory and population. The other 21 members had 20% of the territory and population.

Additional States joined ( Now 27 members) to form the German Empire in 1870-71.


Bavaria*/Munich/7,000,000 -(Continued to issue stamps until 1920.)
Wurttemburg*/Stuttgart/2,500,00-(Continued to issue regular stamps until 1902, official stamps until 1923.)

Grand Duchies

Imperial Territory

Note: asterisk (*) for those States that had their own stamp production

The North German Confederation (red)
States that joined in 1871 to form the German Empire (yellow-orange)
Territory of Alsace-Loraine annexed after the Franco-Prussian War (pale beige)
Into the Deep Blue
The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1868-70, 35 major stamp descriptions for regular and official categories. Nine stamps are valued at $1+ or less, and eleven more form $2+-$9+. "Affordability" Index is 57%.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1868 Scott 5 2gr ultramarine
The first issue ( eleven stamps) for the North German Confederation was produced in 1868, and was rouletted. These stamps are fairly inexpensive, with seven valued between <$1-$7+. Of interest, for the Northern Postal District, the stamps were valued in Groschen ( 30 Groschen= 1 Thaler).  The numeral in the center is surrounded by a circle.

1868 Scott 9 3kr rose
Postmarked "Mainz"
For the Southern Postal District, the stamps were valued in Kreuzer ( 60 Kreuzer= 1 Gulden). Here there is an oval surrounding the center numeral. Altogether, six stamps are in Groschen, and five stamps are in Kreuzer. There was, in addition, a 1/2 shilling valued stamp (Scott 12) for Hamburg.

1gr rose "Norddeutscher Postbezirk" inscribed
1868 rouletted and the 1869 perforated examples
In 1869, stamps (Eleven) with perforations rather than rouletting was issued. The inscription above is translated "North German Postal District" Note the 'Leipzig" postmark.

1869 Scott 14 1/3gr green
The 1869 issue is likewise inexpensive, with eight stamps between $1+-$8. Note the "posthorn" design in the upper right and lower left of the stamp. The posthorn was used to signal the arrival of the mail coach or post rider.

Finally, I don't have an example (CV are $200+), but in 1869, 10gr and 30gr denomination stamps were issued using Goldbeater's skin, the outer membrane of an oxen intestine. This is a parchment used for making gold leaf. The Goldbeater's skin was used as an anti-counterfeiting measure for these high value stamps.

Deep Blue
The Steiner album has two pages for North German Confederation stamps, following the Scott sequence exactly.

1868 Scott 6 5gr bister
Closeup of "winged wheel" and "posthorn" motifs
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on three lines of one page, has 14 stamp spaces for regular and official stamps. BB gives all eleven denominations of the 1868 and 1869 issues a space. Total coverage is 40%.

The first stamp space is a bit problematic though, as BB specifies 1/4 G "red lilac" and "rouletted". "Red lilac" is now a minor number (Scott 1b), while the major number (Scott 1) is "violet". As stated in the "Big Blue checklist-how it is done" blog, I now also give a major number as a choice for a space if BB specifies a minor number. So Scott 1 "violet" is listed as a choice.

"Rouletted" is also specified for the 1/4 gr space. Fine, that can be done, and the perforated 1869 Scott 13 1/4 gr will not be given as a choice. But BB probably is suggesting putting only the "rouletted" 1868 issue in the remaining spaces. I choose to ignore, and will admit also the 1869 perforated issue as a choice for the remaining spaces. So, to summarize, the spaces can be filled with either the rouletted or the perforated varieties.

The 1868 Scott 1 1/4gr "violet" ($15), the 1869 Scott 20 2kr "orange" ($37+ mint), and the 1868 Scott 11 18kr "bister" ($32+ mint) are the most expensive spaces to fill.

Simple Checklist
1b or 1, 2 or 14, 3 or 15, 4 or 16, 5 or 17, 6 or 18,
7 or 19, 8 or 20, 9 or 21, 10 or 22, 11 or 23,

Official Stamps

A) Most expensive:
1868 Scott 1 1/4gr "violet" ($15)
1869 Scott 20 2kr "orange" ($37+ mint)
1868 Scott 11 18kr "bister" ($32+ mint)
B) See discussion about permitting both rouletted and perforated varieties.
C) See discussion about permitting a major number if BB specifies a minor number.

1869 Scott 17 2gr ultramarine
Out of the Blue
Of interest, Deep Blue includes the North German Confederation stamps as part of the "Germany" pages. The Michel catalogue places the stamps not under "Altdeutschland", but with the "Norddeutscher Bund-Deutsches Reich" section. Only Scott is a little more equivocal. The catalogue has these under "German States", but in the last part, right next to "Germany".

Maps appear to be in the public domain.

North German Confederation - Bud's Big Blue

Comments appreciated!


  1. Nice summary. This brings up a question. Do you know what stamps were used by those Duchies and Grand Duchies that did not have there own stamps before the confederation?

  2. Brian, an interesting question.

    I suspect the answer is a varied as the remaining Duchies/Grand Duchies.

    My recent inquiry into Hamburg yielded this:

    "Of interest, there were many "post offices" in the city during the 19th century. The Turn und Taxis Post delivered mail to France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The Prussian Central Post Office delivered the post to Poland, Russia, and Turkey via Austria. The Danish Post and the Swedish-Norwegian Post naturally delivered mail to those areas. The mail to England or overseas was handled by the Hamburg City post."
    (Quote from a future blog ;-)

  3. Thanks Jim. I have been doing some surfing, and now imagine that Thurn & Taxis may have had the postal monopoly in other Duchies until 1867. I think though I will post the question on SCF.

  4. Hi Jim

    I've been working on the German states today and so I checked this page. I came across the question from Brian - from a while ago - and realized that this question has been one of the things on my mind when making the map of German States on StampWorldHistory. Now the list of states in Germany as you have it in the above is different from the list I have used, but some of the answers may be found on the map.

    Aside from that I would guess that you are getting close to doing a page one Schleswig-Holstein. Now today - thanks in part to one of my visitors - I have made a diagram that I tend to find a little gem among the diagrams on my site. It shows the political developments - ok, nice - but also - with catalog numbers - which stamps have been used in what stage of the political history of the duchies - something that has been confusing me for years. Maybe you'll want to check it out and leave a reply.


  5. I have already prepared the Schleswig-Holstein post, and it is waiting to be published. ( I work about five months ahead ;-)

    But, if it is OK with you, I will add a link to your fine diagram. ,!!!

  6. I wonder what the Grand Duchy of Hesse used since it wasn't a member of the North German Confederation even though Upper Hesse did belong to the postal union ?

    1. Good point about Hesse and good question.

      The short answer is I don't know. No doubt the information is available somewhere.

  7. Is the North German Confederation integrated in Germany in ChrisW bigblueinventory excell file?

    1. Axel- I will check into it next week when I return.

    2. no hurry Jim, I suppose it's like France and it's offices in Egypt, etc... enjoy your trip...

    3. I believe Chris' Excel file for Germany (801) includes the North German Confederation (14) and Thurn and Taxis (15).

  8. Sorting a number of ein groschen A1s I found two that were heavily embossed. Scott does not mention embossing so are these possibly reprints? These two also have a slanted small print across the stamps “ ein groschen post-couvert” The two cancellations are difficult to read but one appears to have been done in 1868. If genuine it would probably conflict with the reprint thought. Thank you for your help. This blog is awesome!

    1. I believe these are postal envelope cut-outs.