A German Empire stamp that my mother (German born in 1918) has is pale red and has "Courier"
across the top of a portrait-oriented design and "Briefbeförderung" in an oval below that. It is post-marked 15.3.99 which is believed to be
1899. It also has Halle A/S on the bottom. Any thoughts on when
this might have been issued and to which German state? It doesn't seem to be
included in any of the postage catalogs that she has gone through. Thank
What you have there is what is referred to in US philately as a “local” or “carrier’s” stamp. The German words on the stamp, “courier” / “briefbeförderung”, translate into English as “carrier / letter forwarding”.
German law required that all mail between cities and towns be sent via the Imperial post offices with Imperial postage stamps. This law, however, did not apply to mail carried between addresses within a city or town. As a result, many local entrepreneurs and courier firms established carrier services for processing and delivering local mail, and some even printed their own postage stamps to indicate the prepayment of their carrier fees. These privately issued stamps are called “locals”. From what I’ve been able to find on the internet, these services were abolished in Germany in around 1900.
The local issues are a very specialized area of German philately. They do have value and Michel publishes a catalog on them (in German), but I do not have that catalog and can not give you a detailed description of your stamp. If you would like to do further research, here’s some links I’ve found.