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Austrian Empire

Issues of 1850-1856


The first postage stamps of the Austrian Empire appeared in 1850.  These definitive postage stamps feature the Austrian Imperial Coat of Arms.  They are inscribed "KKPOST / STEMPEL", which is the abbreviated form of "Kaiserlich Konigliches Handels-Ministerium POST STEMPEL", meaning "Imperial and Royal Ministry of Commerce Postage Stamp".



The five major-type definitive Austrian Empire stamps shown above were issued between 1850 and 1854.  The stamps are typographed and imperforate.

For an understanding of the catalog presentation for these Austrian Empire stamps, an understanding of the following technical attributes, concerning their production, is required.

These stamps were printed on two different types of paper.

  • Handmade Paper (1850) - The handmade paper has a rough, mottled appearance.  The five stamps shown in the image directly above are from the 1850 printing on handmade paper.
  • Machine Made paper (1854) - The machine made paper has an even texture and  a smooth appearance.  The three 9 Kr. stamps shown in the image below the page title are from the 1854 printing on machine made paper.

Per the Michel catalog, there are three major types of these stamps.  The 9 Kreuzer denomination stamp exists in Types I, II, and III.  The other denominations exist in Types I and III.

  • Type I - There is one solid line around the lower part of the Coat of Arms.  On the 9 Kr. denomination, the top of the "9" is on a level with the word "Kreuzer" and not near the top of the value tablet.
  • Type II - There is one solid line around the lower part of the Coat of Arms.  On the 9 Kr. denomination, the "9" is much higher than the top of the word "Kreuzer", and it nearly touches the top of the value tablet.
  • Type III - There are two thinner lines around the lower part of the Coat of Arms.  The value tablet attributes of the 9 Kr. denomination are similar to Type II.

The simplified Michel / Scott catalog attributes are shown below.  These stamps are printed on mottled, handmade paper that has a script "K.K.H.M." watermark in the vertical gutter, between the panes of stamps.  However, the watermark rarely appears on individual stamps.  The shades used are from the Michel catalog.


  • 01 K.  (1850 - Type I - Mi. #1X, Sc. #1) - Yellow, Orange, Brownish Orange.
  • 02 K.  (1850 - Type I - Mi. #2X, Sc. #2) -  Black, Gray Black, Silver Gray.
  • 03 K.  (1850 - Type I - Mi. #3X, Sc. #3) - Red, Carmine, Rose, Vermilion.
  • 06 K.  (1850 - Type I - Mi. #4X, Sc. #4) - Brown, Black Brown, Rust Brown.
  • 09 K.  (1850 - Type I - Mi. #5X, Sc. #5a) - Blue.

  • 09 K.  (1850 - Type II - Mi. #5X, Sc. #5) - Grayish Blue, Dark Blue.

  • 01 K.  (1850 - Type III - Mi. #1X, Sc. #1) - Yellow, Orange, Cadmium Yellow.
  • 02 K.  (1850 - Type III - Mi. #2X, Sc. #2) - Black, Gray Black.
  • 03 K.  (1850 - Type III - Mi. #3X, Sc. #3) - Red, Carmine, Rose.
  • 06 K.  (1850 - Type III - Mi. #4X, Sc. #4) - Brown.
  • 09 K.  (1850 - Type III - Mi. #5X, Sc. #5g) - Blue, Blackish Blue.

The simplified Michel / Scott catalog attributes, for stamps that are printed on unwatermarked, machine made paper, are as follows The shades used below are from the Michel catalog.


  • 01 K.  (1854 - Type I - Mi. #1Y, Sc. N/L) - Ocher Yellow, Golden Yellow.
  • 03 K.  (1854 - Type I - Mi. #1Y, Sc. #3f) - Carmine.

  • 01 K.  (1854 - Type III - Mi. #1Y, Sc. #1) - Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Olive Yellow.
  • 02 K.  (1854 - Type III - Mi. #2Y, Sc. #2c) - Black, Gray Black.
  • 03 K.  (1854 - Type III - Mi. #3Y, Sc. #3e) - Red, Carmine, Rose.
  • 06 K.  (1854 - Type III - Mi. #4Y, Sc. #4b) - Brown.
  • 09 K.  (1854 - Type III - Mi. #5Y, Sc. #5h) - Blue, Deep Blue.

Reprints of these Austrian Empire Coat of Arms stamps are plentiful.  They usually have brighter colors, and they are all Type III.  The reprints have minimal value.



These stamps were printed in sheets of 256 impressions, separated into panes of 64 impressions.  Each pane has 60 stamps and four blank positions with St. Andrew's Cross printed on them. These four positions are at the bottom right hand corner of each pane. 

Multiples with one of these St. Andrew's Cross positions are EXTREMELY rare and likewise EXPENSIVE!  The image shown directly above, at the right (Mi. #5X - Type II), is from a 2001 Robert Siegel Auction sale.  The starting bid was $1,200.00, and the lot finally sold for $13,000.00

Proofs, from 1849, exist in various colors, and they are denominated as 6 Kreuzer and 1 Gulden values. They are all VERY RARE. The proofs have "STAMPEL" in the legend at the top of the stamp, instead of "STEMPEL", which appeared on the regularly issued stamps.



In 1852, separation experiments were made with these Austrian Empire stamps. The experimental stamps were line-perforated 14 and all known examples were used at Tokay (Hungary). The 3 Kr., 6 Kr., and 9 Kr. denominations are the commonest.  The example (on cover) shown above, at the left (Mi. #3XC), is from a 2001 Robert Siegel Auction sale, where it sold for $10,000.00.

A 12 Kr. stamp of the Austrian Empire arms design, in blue, was prepared but never issued.   All known examples are canceled, either by a pen stroke or by a script "FRANCO".  They are exceedingly rare.  The example shown above, at the right (Mi. #I), is from the 2016 Felzmann Auction sale in Dusseldorf, Germany, where it sold for 95,000 Euros.



The four Austrian Empire newspaper stamps shown above were issued between 1851 and 1856.  They are typographed on unwatermarked, machine-made paper, and they are imperforate.

The common design features the left-facing profile of Mercury.

There are two types.

  • Type 1 - The "G" has no crossbar.
  • Type 2 - The "G" has a crossbar.

The Michel / Scott catalog attributes are as follows.

  • 0.6 K.  (1851 - Type 1 - Mi. #6I, Sc. #P1a) - Light Blue, Dark Blue.
  • 0.6 K.  (1851 - Type 2 - Mi. #6II, Sc. #P1) - Light Blue, Dark Blue.
  • 6 K.  (1851 - Type 1 - Mi. #7I, Sc. #P2) - Yellow, Brownish Orange.
  • 30 K.  (1851 - Type 1 - Mi. #8I, Sc. #P3) - Rose.
  • 6 K.  (1856 - Type 2 - Mi. #9, Sc. #P4) - Vermilion.

The blue (0.6 K.) stamp, at the top of the image shown directly above, is the only one that is actually collectible.  Though a bit costly, authentic, used examples of this stamp are relatively common, and they are readily available in the philatelic marketplace.

The three stamps, at the bottom of the image shown directly above, are rarely attainable, and they are prohibitively expensive.  Reprints and forgeries of them are plentiful and inexpensive, and these are what reside in most modern-day Austria collections.





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Issues of 1850-1856






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