From Elberfeld (now a section of Wuppertal) to Manchester via Calais,
Big Blue (BB 1969) occasionally has errors that confuse collectors. Take the Prussia section for example. The heading “Official Stamps, 1903” is wrong in two ways.
First, the seven stamps below this heading were not issued by the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1866) but by the German Empire for local use in the State of Prussia. Scott catalogs now correctly identify these as “Local Official Stamps” in the Germany listings. Second, the stamps illustrated were issued in 1920, not 1903. There does exist, however, a set of 1903 local officials for use in the State of Prussia. It’s just not the one shown. The cognomen “Kingdom of Prussia” continued until 1918, the end of World War I, but it issued no stamps after 1866.
The editors of BB 1969 correctly shifted the 1903 Prussian local officials to the Germany section but left the 1920 set on the Prussia page misidentified as 1903. A comparison of the Prussia page from a 1930s edition of Scott’s International Junior album with that of BB 1969 shows the changes.
The two sets of locals are distinguished from other German stamps of similar design by the inscribed number “21”. The 1903 issue has the expanded text Frei durch Ablösung Nr. 21, which means free postage under Contract 21. Officials of the German Empire enjoyed free franking, but a special arrangement was required before officials of the German states such as Prussia had this privilege. Baden also had such a contract (#16).
The 1903 Prussian officials have borders like the 1900 Germania regular issues, while the 1920 Prussian officials are similar to the German officials of the same date, except for the inscribed “21.”
When the local officials are discounted, BB 1969 has spaces for only six Prussian stamps. A novice collector might conclude, given this small number, that Prussia was rather unimportant in German history. Bavaria, by comparison, is allotted 287 spaces; Württemberg, 180; even little Saxony gets eight. Such a conclusion would be, however, manifestly wrong. Prussia dominated the uniting and united Germany (1866 and onward). As a philatelic consequence, beginning in 1872, Prussians used the largest part of the stamps issued by Otto von Bismarck’s German Empire. Some other states, although part of the German unification, continued producing their own stamps – resilient local pride?
Census: 13 on BB page, 23 on supplement pages.
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+).