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What to Look For in German and Colonial Stamps

One of the things that often draws stamp collectors is the desire to focus on the stamps of a particular nation or region. One advantage of this approach is that it makes it easy to set bounds on which stamps you should look for and give you options on how to organize your search. Many philatelists choose European countries such as Germany as their focus. 

What Can You Look for in German Stamps?

One reason for collecting German stamps in particular is that they can be easily divided into different eras and regions. You can collect stamps from the country as a whole, or from some of the precursors such as Bavaria or Prussia. Some possible areas of focus include: 

  • Imperial: Imperial German stamps include anything from the German unification in 1871 until the beginning of the Weimar Republic in 1919. These also include stamps from various German colonies such as the Caroline Islands, Cameroon, and Togo. 
  • Weimar: German stamps in the short-lived Weimar period often feature imagery of the people and labor. 
  • Third Reich: German military and wartime stamps, along with any stamps from World War II or the Third Reich era are very collectible. Some feature Nazi imagery while others feature military images.
  • Post-War: Stamps from the postwar era can include those from both the Federal and Democratic republics, as well as stamps from Berlin.  

What is Stamp Condition?

As with any collectible, stamps gain some of their desirability from condition and some of it from rarity. Stamps come in a wide range of grades, and different sources may only describe stamps using some of the terms. In general though, all the gradations can be described as falling into one of two categories: 

  • Mint: In simple terms this refers to stamps that have never been through the postal system. One thing to look for here is the category of Mint Never Hinged, or MNH, which means these stamps have never been affixed to a stamp album. In philatelic terms, a hinge is a small piece of folded tape that is used to attach the back of a stamp to the album page. 
  • Used: These are canceled stamps which bear postmarks and have often been through the mail. In addition to regular canceled stamps, there is also an interest in Germany and Colonies first day covers. The draw here is that the stamps bear a postmark from the first day of issue, making them attractive that way. 

Philately and You

One of the things that can make philately a great hobby is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded hobbyists all over the world. You can connect with other individuals, or join up with societies dedicated towards specific elements of the hobby. There are even groups that are specifically dedicated towards German stamps. Should that not interest you, the hobby can be just as rewarding on an individual level even if you do not connect with other philatelists.  

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