Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eichstätt letter

On the 7th of May 2009 the German postal administration has celebrated the stamp day by issuing a stamp with surtax picturing one of the treasures of German philately. I had recently the very nice surprise to receive a first day cover of this issue. Thank you Kalpana for this cover (and the others), thank you very much.

Before detailing the subject of the stamp, let’s have a close look to its perforation. If you look carefully between both stamps on the cover you will see that there is a small hole having the shape of an oak leaf. Here is a zoom on the stamp so that can see it better.

As you can see on the cover there are two versions of the same stamp: one with the hole on the right border and one with the hole on the left border. This sort of perforation is a security measure to avoid falsification of stamps. I have already shown some examples of security perforations on stamps from other countries (e.g the cross on stamps from Portugal, the ellipse on stamps from UK…). But this is the first time that this is done by Germany. It seems this is a sort of test, and if the test is successful, such perforation will be generalized on all stamps. I wonder why the shape of an oak leaf has been selected.

Let’s come back to the design of the stamp. As I said, it pictures one of the treasures of German philately, a cover called the Eichstätt letter. Here is a picture of the original letter.

It is addressed to Eichstätt, hence its name. What is the particularity of this cover? It is franked with a block of six black stamps that are the first stamp issue from the Kingdom of Bavaria, a stamp that was issued on the 1st of November 1849. Here is a picture of this stamp. Very simple design, isn’t it?

This letter is a unique item that was discovered in 1958 in a set of old documents and acquired by the German ministry of Post in 1969. I can not even imagine its value. It is considered as one of the most valuable objects of German philately. It has been the subject of philatelic exhibitions together with other philatelic rarities.

Just to be complete you can note that the surtax on the stamp is marked with a five dots cross that I already mentioned for a previous issue.

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