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Austrian Empire

Issues of 1858-1859

Emperor Franz Josef II in 1853

In 1858, the Austrian Empire began issuing a new series of adhesive postage stamps, which featured a profile portrait of their young emperor.

Franz Josef I ascended the Imperial throne in 1848, at the age of 18, so when the postage stamp series of 1858 was issued, the Austrian Emperor was only 28 years old. Thus, the embossed portrait on the new stamp series is that of a very young man.

As with the Arms definitive stamps of 1850, 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 SOLDI, instead of the Austrian KREUZER.

The 2 Kr. yellow, 3 Kr. black, 5 Kr. red, 10 Kr. brown, and 15 Kr. blue denominations were issued between November and December 1858. In March 1859, the color of the 3 Kr. denomination was changed from black to green, which necessitated the re-issue of that denomination. All of them are shown in the first image above.

These new stamps were embossed, with the left facing profile of Emperor Franz Josef, and the various colored frames contained the denomination names and / or denomination numerals in the design. They were printed in sheets of 60, with four additional Saint Andrew's Cross labels, and they were perforated 14 1/2.

These stamps exist in two major types. The Type I printings were issued on November 1, 1858, and the Type II printings were issued in December 1858. The 3 Kr. green, which was issued March 16, 1859, only exists as Type II. Both types of the 15 Kr. denomination are shown in the bottom image above. All the stamps in the top image above are Type II.

  • Type I: The loops of the bow at the back of the head are broken on all denominations, except for the 2 Kr. In the 2 Kr., the "2" has a flat foot, thinning to the right. The frame line in the upper right corner is thicker than the line below it. Also, on the 5 Kr., the frame line at the top is complete. The four St. Andrew's Cross labels at the bottom of the sheets have LARGE crosses

  • Type II: The loops are complete and the ends of the wreath project a bit further from the top of the head than on Type I. In the 2 Kr., the "2" has a more curved foot of uniform thickness, with a shading line in the upper and lower curves. Also, on the 5 Kr., the frame line at the top is broken. The four St. Andrew's Cross labels at the bottom of the sheets have SMALLER crosses.

Mint condition examples of the original printings of these early Austrian Empire stamps are VERY expensive. 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. There are also imperforate reprints of the 2 Kr. and 3 Kr. denominations.

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 Kr., 10 Kr., and 15 Kr. denominations in used condition are inexpensive, and these can also provide the basis for a very attractive Austrian Empire postmark collection.

Bisected stamps (on cover) are also known, and they are all exceedingly rare.

Very scarce examples of these stamps were also occasionally used as revenues.

A new 1.05 Kr. Austrian Empire imperforate newspaper rate stamp was also issued on November 1, 1858. The stamp, shown above left, was embossed with a blue frame, and the portrait is Type I.

The color of the newspaper stamp was changed to lilac, which necessitated its re-issue during 1859. These re-issues are all Type II. The lilac stamp is shown above right.

These two stamps are not really as scarce as the catalog prices would lead one to believe. Many moderately priced examples are available on the internet. There are also numerous shades of both of these newspaper stamp issues.

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Issues of 1858-1859