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Austrian Empire

Issues of 1916-1919

The Austrian Empire issued a new series of definitive postage stamps between September 1916, only two months before the emperor's death, and September 1918. They are all shown above, with the exception of the 30 Heller dark Prussian blue / slate denomination.

The denominations between the 3 Heller and the 1 Krone are all typographed on regular paper, and the 2 Kr. through the 10 Kr. denominations are engraved on regular paper. The 3 H., 5 H., 10 H., 40 H., and 50 H. denominations also exist on thick (0.09 mm) paper, and they are very scarce.

Three designs were utilized for these stamps, the imperial crown, a facing portrait of Emperor Franz Josef, and the imperial coat of arms.

The designs of the four engraved high denomination stamps were printed in two different sizes, the first size being 25 mm x 30 mm, and the second size being 26 mm x 29 mm. Stamps of the second design size are the scarcest, with the 3 Kr. denomination being quite expensive.

The 5 H., 10 H., and 15 H. denominations were also sold in booklets. Complete booklets are rare, but the individual panes are reasonably affordable.

In July 1917, the Austrian Empire re-issued the four engraved high denomination stamps, with the colors being lighter than those of the previous issue. They are shown above at the left.

As with the previous issues, printed on regular paper, the designs of these stamps were also printed in two different sizes. The stamps of this issue in the second design size, with the exception of the 2 Kr. denomination, are rare.

Between 1917 and 1919, the four high values were again re-issued, but these new stamps were printed on granite paper containing colored fibers. They are all shown above at the right.

Both design sizes used for this granite paper issue are reasonably affordable. A variety of the 2 Kr. denomination in the second design size, exists perforated 11 1/2, whereas all the others are perforated 12 1/2, and it is very expensive.

On October 1, 1916, the Austrian Empire issued a new series of five newspaper stamps, featuring a left facing depiction of Mercury. They are all shown in the image above.

As with the previous imperforate newspaper stamp issues, many people had the sheets privately perforated, to facilitate their separation. One of them is shown in the image above.

Between 1916 and 1917, the Austrian Empire issued two sets of Special Handling postage stamps.

The 1916 issue, shown above at the top, was printed on yellowish paper in triangular format. These stamps featured the profile of Mercury, and they were all perforated 12.

The 1917 issue, shown above at the bottom, was printed on yellowish paper in horizontal format. These stamps also featured the profile of Mercury, but they come in four different perforation gauges.

The most common of the four perforation gauges are 12 1/2 and 11 1/2. Stamps of the other two perforation gauges, 11 1/2 x 12 1/2 and 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 are very scarce.

Crown Prince Karl and his family in 1914
(l.-r.) Crown Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Archduchess Adelheid,

Prince Otto, and Crown Prince Karl Franz Josef.

In June 1914, Karl's uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the imperial throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia by a Serbian anarchist. This event resulted in the Austrian Empire declaring war on Serbia, the spark that, due to complex alliances at the time, would ignite a World War. At this time, the 27 year old Prince Karl Franz Josef was declared the heir apparent to the imperial throne.

On November 21, 1916, Emperor Franz Josef I died, having reigned only a week shy of 68 years, the third longest reign in European history. On December 30, Young Karl was coronated as Emperor Karl I of the Austrian Empire and as Karl IV, the Apostolic King of Hungary.

Though the commander of the imperial military forces and a capable military leader, Karl disdained the war, and in 1917, he entered into secret peace negotiations with France. The French, however, would have nothing to do with a peace arrangement that did not include the German Empire.

At the end of World War I, on November 11, 1918, the emperor issued a proclamation, in which he recognized the Austrian people's right to determine the form of the state, and he relinquished his participation in the administration of the Austrian State, but HE DID NOT ABDICATE the throne.

In March 1919, the imperial family moved to Rorschach, Switzerland, and in 1921, they moved to their place of final exile, the Portuguese island of Madeira. Karl spent the remainder of his life campaigning for the restoration of the Austrian monarchy, and after a lengthy illness, he died in Madeira on March 9, 1922. He is buried in the Church of Our Lady of Monte in Madeira.

In May 1917, four new definitive stamps, featuring the portrait of Emperor Karl I, were issued. The four stamps, shown above, were printed on regular paper and were perforated 12 1/2. The 20 H. denomination comes in two distinct shades, dark green (shown above) and light green.

The 15 H. denomination was also sold in booklets. Complete booklets are very rare, but the individual panes are very affordable.

These four definitive stamps were also printed on thick paper. The thick paper varieties are very scarce and expensive.

On November 12, 1918, the Republic of German Austria (later, the Republic of Austria) was proclaimed. At that time, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy came to an end.

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Issues of 1916-1919