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Austrian Empire

Issues of 1858-1859


<-  Emperor Franz Josef I in 1853


The first stamps of the Austrian Empire to feature the portrait of the emperor appeared between 1858 and 1859.  Emperor Franz Josef I had ascended to the imperial throne in 1848, at the age of 18, so when the postage stamp series of 1858-1859 was first produced, the Austrian Emperor was only 28 years old.  Thus, the portrait appearing on the stamps is that of a very young man.

These newly designed definitive postage stamps were also the first ones that were perforated, enabling the easy separation of the individual stamps in a pane.

As with the Arms definitive stamps of 1850 to 1854, these new stamps were valid at post offices throughout the Austrian Empire, with the exception of the states of Lombardy and Venetia. Similar stamps were issued for use in Lombardy and Venetia, but they were denominated in Italian SOLDI, instead of the Austrian KREUZER.



The six major-type definitive Austrian Empire stamps shown above were issued between 1858 and 1859.  The stamps are embossed on unwatermarked paper, and they are perforated 14 1/2.

The common design features colored frames of various types, along with the colorless left-facing profile of Emperor Franz Josef I.

Type I

Type II

These new stamps were produced in two types.  The attributes of the loops of the bow at the back of the head are illustrated by the two images directly above.

  • Type I - The loops of the bow at the back of the head are broken on all denominations, except for the 2 Kr. denomination.   On the 2 Kr. denomination, the "2" has a flat foot, thinning to the right.  The four St. Andrew's Cross labels at the bottom of the panes have LARGE crosses.
  • Type II - The loops of the bow at the back of the head are complete, and the ends of the wreath project a bit further from the top of the head.   On the 2 Kr. denomination, the "2" has a more curved foot of uniform thickness, with a shading line in the upper and lower curves. The four St. Andrew's Cross labels at the bottom of the panes have SMALLER crosses.

The simplified Michel / Scott catalog attributes, for stamps that are Type I, are as follows The shades used below are from the Michel catalog.

  • 02 K.  (1858 - Mi. #10I, Sc. #6) - Yellow, Dark Yellow.
  • 03 K.  (1858 - Mi. #11I, Sc. #7) - Black, Gray Black.
  • 05 K.  (1858 - Mi. #13I, Sc. #9) - Red, Dark Red.
  • 10 K.  (1858 - Mi. #14I, Sc. #10) - Brown, Deep Brown.
  • 15 K.  (1858 - Mi. #15I, Sc. #11) - Dark Blue, Black Blue.

The simplified Michel / Scott catalog attributes, for stamps that are Type II, are as follows The shades used below are from the Michel catalog.

  • 02 K.  (1858 - Mi. #10II, Sc. #6) - Yellow, Dark Yellow, Orange, Dark Orange.
  • 03 K.  (1858 - Mi. #11II, Sc. #7) - Black, Gray Black.
  • 03 K.  (1859 - Mi. #12, Sc. #8) - Green, Yellow Green, Bluish Green.
  • 05 K.  (1858 - Mi. #13II, Sc. #9) - Red, Dark Red.
  • 10 K.  (1858 - Mi. #14II, Sc. #10) - Lilac Brown, Black Brown.
  • 15 K.  (1858 - Mi. #15II, Sc. #11) - Blue, Dark Blue, Black Blue.

Government reprints of these issues were made for collectors, between 1866 and 1894. These mint condition reprints exist in five different printings, and most of them are very inexpensive. The reprints are all Type II, and they are perforated 10 1/2, 11, 12, 12 1/2, and 13.

Multiples with the stamp and the adjacent St. Andrew's Cross label are extremely expensive. The labels themselves are collectible, and the denominations can be ascertained by the color. Off-centered stamps showing part of the St. Andrew's Cross label can be found, and they are relatively affordable.

Other collectible varieties are stamps with red cancellations, blue cancellations, Lombardy-Venetia cancellations, and even first-day-of-issue cancellations (November 1, 1858). The 5 K., 10 K., and 15 K. denominations in used condition are inexpensive, and these can also provide the basis for a very attractive Austrian Empire postmark collection.  For postmark collecting, one must consider that, at this time, there were around 11,000 post offices in the Austrian Empire, with many of them using different types of canceling devices.



The two Austrian Empire newspaper stamps shown above were issued between 1858 and 1859.  These newspaper stamps are embossed on unwatermarked paper, and they are imperforate.

The Michel / Scott catalog attributes are as follows The shades used below are from the Michel catalog.

  • 1.05 K.  (1858 - Mi. #16, Sc. #P5) - Blue, Light Blue, Dark Blue.
  • 1.05 K.  (1859 - Mi. #17, Sc. #P6) - Lilac, Dark Lilac, Gray Lilac, Brownish Lilac.

These two newspaper stamps are not really as scarce as the catalog prices would lead one to believe.  Many moderately-priced used examples are available on the internet.





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Issues of 1858-1859





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