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...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


1850 Scott 3 1sg black/rose 
"King Frederick William IV"
Quick History
Prussia was, by far, the leading German Kingdom, and in 1871 the German Empire was created under it's domination.

The population was 24.7 million in 1871 (60% of the German Empire's total population), and the capital was Berlin.

Expansion of Prussia 1807-1871
But before Prussia was part of the North German Confederation and the German Empire, it was a separate Kingdom that issued stamps between 1850-1867.

The 1850-1860 stamps had the monarch King Frederick William IV (Reign 1840-1861) as the subject. A romantic and a conservative, he was followed in 1861 by his brother William I (Wilhelm I).

William I (Reign 1861-1888, with 1871-1888 as German Emperor) and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (In office 1871-1890) unified Germany under their leadership.

The stamps of 1861-67 Prussia show the Prussian Coat of Arms.

Prussian Coat of Arms 1871-1914

German Empire Coat of Arms 1889
Note the similarities between the Prussian and German Empire Coat of Arms. 

Coincidence? I think not. ;-)

1850 Scott 5 3sg black/yellow
"King Frederick William IV"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Prussia 1850-1867, 27 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 8 are CV <$1 -$10+, or 30%. A nice sampling of Prussian stamps are available for the WW classical collector for a not too expensive outlay.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pfennigs = 1 Silbergroschen
60 Kreuzer = 1 Gulden (1867)
1850 Scott 2 6pf ( 1/2sg) red orange
"King Frederick William IV"
Background of Crossed Lines
The 1850-56 engraved imperforate set of five stamps shows the reigning monarch, and has a background of crossed lines. Three of the stamps have a CV of $8-$10+ -relatively modest, no doubt because Prussia was populous, and stamp use was comparatively high.

1850 Scott 4 2sg black/blue
The postmarks during this era often consist of an identifying town number surrounded by four concentric circles (Vierringstempel). The 1sg, 2sg, and 3sg denomination stamps are on rose, blue, and yellow paper respectively.

Wmk 162
The 1850-56 issue also has a Laurel Wreath watermark (Wmk 162): here, so obvious that watermark fluid is not needed.

1857 Scott 6 1sg rose
Solid Background
A three stamp typographed issue was released in 1857. These stamps have a solid background.

1858 Scott 9 4pf green
Background of Crossed Lines
A typographed 4pf green with a background of crossed lines was issued in 1858. This is a stamp where a forgery exists, according to the German Philatelic Society Forgery Manual for the German States. The forgery is cruder with no arched shading lines on the forehead, and the "Freimarke" script only 1.25 mm high rather than 1.5 mm high.

1858 Scott 11 1sg rose
1sg, 2sg, and 3sg denomination typographed stamps were produced between 1858-60. CV ranges from $2+ - $10+.

1858 Scott 13 3sg orange
The 3sg orange shows a nice town cancel (Ortsstempel).

1861 Scott 15 4pf yellow green
Embossed, Rouletted 11 1/2
"Coat of Arms"
The Prussian "Coat of Arms" was used for the six stamp 1861-67 set. The new monarch, William I, for some reason, was not chosen for the visage. The subtle hand of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, as he attempts to unify Germany?

1861 Scott 18 2sg ultramarine
The 1861-67 set was embossed, and was rouletted 11 1/2. CV is <$1-$20+.

There is, in addition, a similar five stamp 1867 set (not shown), which is valued in  Kreuzer denominations.

The stamps of Prussia were superseded on January 1, 1868 by those of the North German Confederation.

Deep Blue
Prussia 1850-1860 Issues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has two pages for the stamps of Prussia, and gives a space for all Scott major numbers. A quadrilled page might also be nice for minor number variations or extras.

1857 Scott 12 2sg blue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two lines of one page, has 13 spaces. Only one line though- 6 spaces- is actually stamps of Prussia. Coverage is 22%. and consists entirely of the embossed 1861-67 issue. 

Expensive stamps include the 1867 Scott 14 3pf red lilac ($20+) and the 1861 Scott 16 6pf orange ($10+).

Of note,  BB specifies the 1865 3p "red violet" color, now a minor number (14a), with a CV of $250! But, as a general rule, if BB asks for a minor number in a space, the major number is also permitted: hence the 3pf red lilac ($20+).

The other line in the '69 BB has 7 spaces for the 1903 Local Official stamps for Prussia, but these stamps are listed under Germany in the catalogue.

In the 40s editions, the 1861-67 issue coverage is 4 spaces, but there are 3 spaces for the 1850-1860 stamps. Also, there are 15 spaces for the 1903 Local Official stamps for Prussia.

The coverage for Prussia in the '69 is located on the same page as Nyassa and Obock, and before Oltre Giuba.

For the 40s BB editions, the coverage is found after the Paraguay - Pitcairn Islands page.

Checklist ('69 version)

14a* or 14,15,16,17,18,20,

Official Stamps

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1867 Scott 14 3pf red lilac ($20+)
1861 Scott 16 6pf orange ($10+)
B) *14a or 14- BB specifies the 1865 3p "red violet" color, now a minor number (14a), with a CV of $250! But we have a general understanding for the checklist that if BB asks for a minor number in a space, the major number is also permitted: which here is the 3pf red lilac ($20+).
C) *1903 Official issue are for local use in Prussia. But they are listed in the Scott catalogue as part of the issues of Germany.

1861 Scott 17 1sg rose "Coat of Arms"
Out of the Blue
I would like to do a little more investigation of the stamps of Prussia- but, for the present, I have to move on. ;-)

Note: The maps and "Coat of Arms" images appear to be in the public domain.

Comments are appreciated.


  1. Nice analysis and history. Thanks for what you are doing. I'm sure the classic WW collectors really appreciate your work, I know I do!

  2. Thanks Chris- it continues to be fun!

  3. Jim, love your blog. Its one of my go -to relaxing reading places. Still collecting classical era here, from a couple old red "Modern Postage Stamp Album"s from 1938, both in good shape featuring ultra common stamps that even ***I*** can afford! :) alas! I also restor and operate 1930s era Amateur Radio equipment, which takes a huge bite out of the budget.....but think of all those vintage QSL cards and postal stationery!

  4. Hi Gary

    That red "Modern Postage Stamp Album" with an illustration of skyscrapers and a plane on the cover has a special place in my heart, as that was the album my father had! And that was the album I would look through as a child before I received my own "Citation" album.

    As far as QSLing, I would listen for hours on a Hallicrafter receiver, and send requests to obtain those QSL cards. I passed the novice licence (WN0JHI), but never got around to obtaining a transmitter. (My younger brother, though, eventually ran a full mobile set-up in his van.)


    1. Jim, you might have some fun going over our FB page, "Novice Rig Round-up ", which is an event where a bunch of us either rebuild or dust off our old xtal controlled novice rigs and revisit the excitement of our first steps in radio....or alternately, enjoy these old rigs for the first time! On a more philatelic note, as a letterpress shop owner and huge fan of 19th century postal design, we have woven a lot of the classic border and ornamenting themes into our work at Paper Wren Press. We also desgned and released what has become, as far as we've been able to determine, the only Christmas Seal commemorative celebrating Emily Bissel 's original 1907 design for the Deleware Valley Chapter of the National Red Cross, America's first Christmas Seal, issued from the Post Office at the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, Barberville, Florida on 12/11/2007. Issued in sheets of nine, perf and imperf, printed from a single copper die. Line perforated from a 19th century Chicago treadle machine, printed on a treadled letterpress (typographed). These can be viewed from the blog at gjohanson.blogspot.com, search "Christmas Seal"

  5. Fascinating Gary! You are a letterpress specialist too!
    I bookmarked your blog spots so I can read more at my leisure. If you enjoy my classical era stamp blog, I can say equally I will enjoy yours also.

  6. Jim, one more thing, I went to my own blog entry about the Christmas Seals and updated a few things. Gosh, that post was made five years ago. I posted an addendum on the end of the two primary entries from November and October 2008. This is just in case anyone reading this and goes there, and might want one, might know how to contact us. Thanks for the bit space, and looking forward to more posts!

    Philatelically and Graphically yours
    Gary // Paper Wren Press.