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Austrian Empire

Issues of 1867-1883


Before 1867, the Austrian Empire was an absolute monarchy, which included Hungary and Northern Italy. In 1867, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was established. Hungary became a self governing monarchy, with Franz Josef as its king. From this time, The Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary were equal partners.

A new set of definitive postage stamps was introduced in 1867, and the stamps were valid for postage in both Austria and its possessions, and in the Kingdom of Hungary and its possessions.

In 1871, the independent postal administration of the Kingdom of Hungary began to issue its own postage stamps, featuring the portrait of King Franz Josef, and at that time, the Austrian Empire postage stamp issues were no longer valid within Hungary and its possessions.


The first printing of the new stamps, all printed during 1867, is known as the Coarse Printings. On this printing, the lines of the hair and beard are thick and course. These new stamps were printed on white paper with a large BRIEF-MARKEN watermark across the middle of the sheet. Stamps showing portions of this watermark are worth much more than those that do not. The lower denomination stamps of the coarse printing were all perforated 9 1/2, and the new 50 Kr. denomination stamps were all perforated 12.

All of the stamps of the first printing are shown in the images above, including three of the four types of the 5 Kr. denomination and the brown violet shade of the 25 Kr. The coarse printing of the 50 Kr. denomination above features a Lemberg (Lvov, Poland) money order receipt cancel.


The enlargements of the coarse printing 5 Kr. stamps shown above illustrate the three major types. The first two types only occur on the coarse printing stamps, whereas the third type occurs both on the coarse printing and the later fine printing stamps.

The types are as follows (from left to right):

  • Michel (Type Ia) Scott (Type I) - In the arabesque in the lower left corner, the ornament at the left of the curve nearest to the "5" is small. The middle line of the ear is clear and the end of the ear lobe is broken.


  • Michel (Type Ib) Scott (Type I) - In the arabesque in the lower left corner, the ornament at the left of the curve nearest to the "5" is small. The middle line of the ear is heavily shaded at the top and bottom, connecting it to the outer ear, and the end of the ear lobe is complete.


  • Michel (Type IIa) Scott (Type II) - In the arabesque in the lower left corner, the ornament at the left of the curve nearest to the "5" is elongated along the curve. The same ornament at the opposite end of this arabesque is small and separated from its branch.


  • Michel (Type IIb) Scott (Type III) - (not shown in the image above) is the same as type IIa, except that the same ornament at the opposite end of this arabesque is large and merged with its branch. This subtype only occurs on the stamps of the later Fine Printing.


The 5 Kr. stamp shown below, in the images of the Fine Printings, is Michel (Type IIb) / Scott (Type III).

There is an extremely rare variety of the 3 Kr. stamp, printed in the red color of the 5 Kr. stamp, instead of the usual green color. A used example on piece catalogs € 100,000 in the Michel catalog.


Between 1874 and 1880, the 1867 definitive stamp designs were reissued within the Austrian Empire. This second printing is known as the Fine Printing. On this printing, the lines of the hair and beard are thin and fine, rendering a much more appealing portrait. Upon physical comparison, the differences are obvious.

As with the Coarse Printings, these were printed on white paper with a large BRIEF-MARKEN watermark across the middle of the sheet. Stamps showing portions of this watermark are worth much more than those that do not.

The Fine Printings were produced with a multitude of perforation varieties. Per the Michel catalog, they are as follows:

  • Perforated 9 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., 15 Kr., 25 Kr., and 50 Kr.
  • Perforated 9 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., 15 Kr., and 50 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., and 15 Kr.
  • Perforated 12 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., and 15 Kr.
  • Perforated 13 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., 15 Kr., and 50 Kr.
  • Perforated 9 x 10 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 9 x 12 - 5 Kr.
  • Perforated 9 x 13 - 2 Kr. and 5 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 1/2 x 9 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., and 15 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 1/2 x 12 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 1/2 x 13 - 2 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 12 x 10 1/2 - 5 Kr. and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 12 x 13 - 5 Kr and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 13 x 10 1/2 - 5 Kr and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 13 x 12 - 3 Kr and 5 Kr.


As these Fine Printings were issued after 1871, when the Kingdom of Hungary began issuing its own postage stamps, they were not valid for postage within the Kingdom of Hungary or its possessions.

Many of these Austrian Empire issues exist with blue, violet, and red cancellations, some of which can be quite expensive. SPECIMEN overprints exist for all the Fine Printings. They are priced at €150 each in Michel.

Just collecting the printing and perforation varieties of these issues alone could be a lifetime endeavor. For the postmark philatelist, the possibilities are almost endless. During this period of time, there were over 11,000 listed post offices throughout the Austrian Empire, and quite a few of them had hundreds of different types of postmarks.


On August 15, 1883, the six new definitive postage stamps shown above were issued by the Austrian Empire. These new stamps featured the imperial coat of arms, and they were printed in two colors, with the background design being in one color, and the name and denominations being in black.

As with the Austrian Empire portrait issues, these were printed on white paper with a large BRIEF-MARKEN watermark across the middle of the sheet. Stamps showing portions of this watermark are worth much more than those that do not. Some later printings were accidentally printed on paper with a large ZEITUNGS-MARKEN watermark, normally used for printing Austrian Empire newspaper stamps. Stamps showing portions of the word "ZEITUNGS" are worth much more.

These arms designs were produced with various perforation varieties. Per the Michel catalog, they are as follows:

  • Perforated 9 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., 20 Kr., and 50 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., 20 Kr., and 50 Kr.
  • Perforated 9 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., and 20 Kr.
  • Perforated 10 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., 10 Kr., and 20 Kr.
  • Perforated 11 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 12 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Perforated 12 1/2 - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.
  • Compound Perforated - 2 Kr., 3 Kr., 5 Kr., and 10 Kr.


Many of these stamps exist with blue, violet, red, Turkish imperial, and first day of issue cancellations.

These stamps also come in plate and trial color proofs, perforated and imperforate, and printed on several different types of paper. The individual prices vary in Michel, but none of them are unreasonably expensive.




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Issues of 1867-1883





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