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...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thurn and Taxis

Northern District 1852 Scott 6 2sgr black/rose
Quick History
The Thurn and Taxis Princely House (Tassis) has had a long history of providing mail and newspaper courier distribution services- originally since 1290 for Italian city-states, and then spreading by the 16th century to a postal route network encompassing Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Spain, and the Low countries (now Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg). They were named the Imperial Postmasters General for the Holy Roman Empire in 1748.

Thurn und Taxis Coat of Arms
The Thurn and Taxis private Post was active between 1806 and 1867.

Originally headquartered in Regensburg, it was moved to Frankfurt am Main in 1810.

1843 Postal Routes for Thurn und Taxis
Stamps were introduced in 1852. Since there were different denomination currencies in the Northern and Southern Germanic States, the stamp issues for the Northern Germanic States were in "Silbergroschen", while "Kreuzer" were used for the Southern Germanic States stamp issues.

There is a fine German States and Postal Service map developed and published by Stamp World History that shows the German State postal service areas covered by Thurn and Taxis until 1867. Thanks Gerben!

In 1867, after the Austro-Prussian war, Prussia took over the postal system on July 1, 1867. (Prussia paid three million thalers ($2,250,000) for the postal rights from the Prince of Thurn and Taxis.) This, in turn, was followed by stamps from the North German Postal District on January, 1, 1868, and finally the stamps of the German Empire on January 1, 1872.

By the way, the House of Thurn and Taxis is still very much alive and well.

Turn and Taxis Board Game
And there is a 2006  adventure board game- Turn and Taxis-  whose object is to string together a lucrative postal network by taking ownership of mailboxes in cities along the way.

Northern District 1859 Scott 10 1sgr blue
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Thurn and Taxis 1852-1866 (under German States), 54 major descriptive numbers (Northern District-32; Southern District-22).

Of those, 18 are CV $1+-$2+, or 33%. All of the low value CV stamps are for unused condition. Clearly, the WW classical era collector can add some classical Thurn and Taxis stamps to the collection without much expense.

Most of the rest of Thurn and Taxis stamps are moderately expensive to expensive (CV $10+-$100+). Of interest, some stamps are much more expensive used. For instance, the Northern District 1866 "Rouletted in Colored Lines" Scott 31 2sgr blue is CV $1.50 unused, while CV $1,300 used! As one would expect, Scott has a note that, when stamps are much more CV valuable used, there are plenty of forged cancellations around.

Thurn and Taxis's stamps come in two major flavors: For the Northern District (valued in Silbergroschen), or for the Southern District (valued in Kreuzer). The districts tend to parallel each other in terms of issues.  But, for clarity, we will review each district separately in the next section.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
Northern District
30 Silbergroschen or Groschen = 1 Thaler
Northern District 1853 Scott 5 1sgr black/light blue
Between 1852-1858, a seven stamp imperforate typographic issue was used for the Northern District. The stamps are black, but imprinted on colored paper.

CV ranges from $20+-$60+ for five stamps.

There were reprints produced in 1910, and they have a "ND" in script on the back. CV = $6+. 

Northern District 1859 Scott 14 10sgr orange
In 1859-1860, a seven stamp imperforate issue in various colors was produced on white paper.

Note the posthorns in the design, which are found on all of Thurn and Taxis's stamps.

The 10 Silbergroschen orange, illustrated above, is CV $2+ unused, and CV $1,000 used!

Northern District 1865 Scott 24 1 sgr rose
In 1865, a six stamp rouletted issue was released. CV is $1+- $20+.

Northern District 1866 Scott 28 1/3sgr green
Rouletted in Colored Lines
The 1866 issue of six stamps was rouletted in colored lines, as shown. CV is $1+ unused for all the stamps in the issue.

Southern District
60 Kreuzer = 1 Gulden
Southern District 1852 Scott 43 3kr black/dark blue
A five stamp imperforate issue, printed in black on colored paper, was released in 1852-53 for the Southern District. CV used is $10+-$20+ for four stamps.

Southern District 1859 Scott 49 6kr rose
In 1859,  an imperforate six stamp set in various colors on white paper was issued. The numbers inside the concentric cancellation disclose which city the stamp originated from. I don't have the city code matrix, but it no doubt would be available in the philatelic literature if one wished to dig deeper.

Southern District 1862 Scott 53 3kr rose
In 1862, a three stamp imperforate set in new colors was released. CV is $10+.

Southern District 1865 Scott 58 6kr blue
A rouletted set of four stamps was issued in 1865. CV ranges from $1+-$10+.

Southern District 1866 Scott 60 1kr green
Rouletted in Colored Lines
Finally, a four stamp set, which was rouletted in colored lines, was issued in 1866. CV is $1+ unused.

The Thurn and Taxis stamps (both Northern and Southern Districts) were replaced by those of Prussia on July 1, 1867.

Deep Blue
Northern District 1866 Issue in Deep Blue
Rouletted in Colored Lines
Deep Blue (Steiner) has three pages for the Northern district and two pages for the Southern District. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

Southern District 1852 Scott 42 1kr black/light green
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, one 1/2 page, shared with the North German Confederation, has nine spaces for the Northern District, and six spaces for the Southern District: (Total = 15 spaces). Coverage is 28%. Many of the BB spaces, though, can have multiple stamp choices.

The coverage for Thurn and Taxis is actually located and placed as the first page of Germany. The BB Table of Contents, consequently, does not list Thurn and Taxis separately- or at all. (That goes for the North German Confederation also.)

The 40s BB editions have fourteen spaces (12 blank spaces) for the Northern District, and seven spaces (5 blank spaces) for the Southern District: (Total = 21 spaces).

Remarkably, perhaps, there are no spaces in the '69 BB that require an expensive (CV $10+) stamp. 


Northern District – 9 spaces
1 or 8 or 15 or 21 or 27,
16 or 22 or 28,
23 or 29,
18 or 24 or 30,
(5 or any other choice not taken)
19 or 25 or 31,
20 or 26 or 32,

Southern District- 6 spaces
42 or 47 or 56 or 60,
53 or 57 or 61,
54 or 58 or 62,
55 or 59 or 63,

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

Southern District 1859 Scott 51 15kr lilac
Out of the Blue
I'm fascinated by the Thurn and Taxis postal history, but couldn't find as much detail as I would like in cyberspace about it. When I get a chance, I will visit a philatelic library and do some more research. 

Note: Map, and Coat of Arms scan images appears to be in the public domain, while the Thurn and Taxis Board Game image (copyright) is presented here for educational purposes.

Have a comment?


  1. Casual board gamer here... Have you managed to play the Thurn and Taxis game yourself? I've been planning on buying it for years, but based on the brief on the box it seems a bit 'complicated' (at least for the younger kids) and thus I've always opted for Carcassone add-on. But maybe some day...


    1. I've not played it, but remember when it was quite popular.

  2. Nice post. I collect T&T as part of my German area (specialized) collection. One thing to keep in mind for the WW collector is that T&T is one of the more over-priced German areas in Scott. In other words, T&T issues can usually be had at a pretty steep (steeper than normal) discount off catalog, particularly for less than top quality. All but a few issues can be had for under $10 if one isn't too picky.

    Steve B.

    1. Steven - Thanks for the tip. I will use that information as a bargining chip next time. ;-)

  3. My favorite of the German States, my next forgery topic.
    Postal history on its way to you.
    Thurn & Taxis as you noted, in catalogs of the period, is generally with the Colonies along with the North Confederation.
    Some 55 different ones were reprinted in 1909 (backstamped) and the whole series can be had for about $100 - interesting space fillers?

    1. Looking forward to your upcoming forgery post on Thurn & Taxis, Falschung- it should be good. !!!

      Yes, I noticed the reprints were mentioned in Scott @ CV $6.50 apiece.