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German Empire

Embossed Eagle Issue of 1872-1874

In January 1872, the German Empire issued their first adhesive postage stamps. The postage stamps were typographed in various colors, with an embossed Imperial Eagle and Shield in the middle. In June 1872, a modified design was introduced, featuring a larger eagle and shield. Some of the issues exist in distinctly different shades.

Many catalogs prefer to call these two types "small shield" and "large shield". Unfortunately, the embossing on these first German Empire stamps can range from very strong to very faint, and on used examples, the circular date stamp usually covers or obliterates the shield portion of the embossed design. The two types are illustrated in the scan above. In truth, the eagles and the shields in the two types are completely different in all aspects. Many different elements, such as the crown, banner, wings, talons, tail, etc., can be used to determine the type as well.

As with the North German Confederation issues, two series of these stamps were issued. One was denominated in Groschen, for use in the North German states, and the other one was denominated in Kreuzer, for use in the South German states.

Two high-value postage stamps were also issued in 1872. They are the 10 Groschen and 30 Groschen denominations. They were typographed, with large numerals of value in the middle.

The 1872 issues are shown in the scans below, presented as the North German Currency - Small Eagle, the South German Currency - Small Eagle, the North German Currency - Large Eagle, and the South German Currency - Large Eagle.

North German Currency - Small Eagle and Shield

South German Currency - Small Eagle and Shield

North German Currency - Large Eagle and Shield

South German Currency - Large Eagle and Shield


In January 1874, the 2 1/2 Groschen and 9 Kreuzer denominations of the Large Eagle and shield variety were surcharged with the same values in the color of the postage stamps. They are illustrated in the scan above.

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Embossed Eagle Issue of 1872-1874