Today in Postal History

November 30, 1923

As most stamp collectors know, inflation was rampant in Germany in 1923.
It was clearly apparent in postal rates which soared as the Mark fell.
New stamps were printed with ever higher values along with bushels of paper Marks.
This registered
(einschreiben) express cover was sent from Heilsbronn*
about 25 km southwest of Nürnberg to Wangen im Algäu 196 km south southwest
near Bodensee/Lake Constance on the Swiss border.
It arrived the next day, December 1.
This was not exactly an epic journey.

There is note at the top "Per Eilboten zu bestellen, Bote bezahlt"
which translates as "
Express delivery, delivery man already paid

All of the stamps were issued in 1923.
The front has one 1 billion Mark (Scott 294) and two 2 billion Marks (Scott 295).
The back has eight of the 10 billion Mark values (Scott 297)
and three of the 1 billion Mark values (Scott 294).
The stamps show a proper rate of 88,000,000,000 Marks (that's right, 88 billion) for a
double-weight registered express cover during the period from November 20 to November 26.

But wait, there's more to the story.
On November 26 all rates were quadrupled!
(They had also quadrupled on November 20.)
The old rates could still be used if you had the stamps.
However, since this cover was posted at the post office to accomplish
the registration the sender paid the quadruple rate: 352 billion Marks!
The value of the old stamps was four times face!*

One of the interesting things about the cover is that this was just one day
before the Mark was revalued and replaced by the Rentenmark.*

1 Rentenmark was the value of 1,000,000,000,000 (that's 1 trillion) of the old marks.
1 Rentenmark comprised 100 Rentenpfennigs.
The stamps on this cover were only worth 35+ Rentenpfennigs.
Of course, after the revaluation, inflation era stamps became useless in a short time.
That is why so many became available to stamp collectors.

Covers such as this one are avidly pursued by collectors interested in inflation postal history.
Expertization is almost always sought for such covers.

*Thanks to Bjorn Munch for his added information on the rates applied to this fascinating cover.
Thanks, too, to Lars Boettger for his additions concerning
translation of the annotation,
Heilsbronn, and the Rentenmark.


Today in Postal History
January February March April May June
July August September October November December

Pastnotes Index - The First 300 and the Next 208
provides more tidbits about stamps and collectors.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.