Austria Stamp History 2

Dr. Herz mentioned in his report that at the time Great Britain Belgium, France, the United States and Russia were using postage stamps and that Bavaria was preparing its first issue, while in several Italian as well as in all German States the question of postage stamps was under consideration. In respect to Russia, which had not issued any stamps at that time, Dr. Herz must have meant the envelopes issued there since 1848. It is not surprising that he does not mention Brazil and Mauritius, which had been using stamps since 1843 and 1847 respectfully, as these countries were far away. But the omission of Switzerland is astonishing as this was a neighbor of Austria, and since 1843 (Zurich, Geneva) and 1845 (Basel) postage stamps had been in use. Anyway, it is obvious that Dr. Herz studied only the postage stamps of Great Britain, France, Belgium and Bavaria and that he had only little knowledge of the stamps of the United States and no knowledge at all of others. Considering this, his proposals, although based partly on the experiences in other countries, contained many features which were Dr. Herz's own ideas. They were almost entirely accepted by the Austrian Postal Administration and the stamps manufactured and issued according to Dr. Hertz's recommendations.

Several features had to be considered for the stamps themselves, namely the design, printing method, paper, denominations and colors, gum as well as the method of cancellation. Aside from this, size of the sheets, as well as distribution and sale had to be regulated. One big question which was most important for the Postal Administration was the fixing of the rates of postage. Dr. Herz, although very much impressed by Rowland Hill's reforms, especially by the Penny Postage, felt that the conditions in Great Britain, where almost 15 times as many letters were mailed than in Austria, did allow such revolutionary mea$11e, but that for Austria, a two-zone system, up to 10 miles and over 10 miles, should be adopted. The use of the stamps should be obligatory and unpaid letters should be taxed with postage due for the full postage plus 3 kr. He made no recommendations in regard to the size of the sheets, but suggested that the stamps should not only be available at the post office, but also in suitable private stores, which would receive a2rr.;r cent commission for their sale. Dr. Herz, by the way, was quite strongly opposed to the introduction of stamped envelopes which he considered "costly toys" without any real advantage.

In regard to the design, Dr. Herz did not elaborate much on his choice, the Austrian arms. He mentions that Great Britain and Belgium had chosen the head of the Queen and King, but it seems that the Austrian authorities, in accordance with the trend in some other countries, did not want the likeness of the emperor on the postage stamps to run the risk of being "defaced" by the cancellation. As another possibility, Dr. Herz mentions the symbolic head of "Austria", but the Postal Administration stuck to the Austrian arms which were eventually chosen as the design. This is quite remarkable as none of the stamps which Dr. Herz seems to have known featured arms; they had either contemporary heads of state (Great Britain, Belgium), heads of famous patriots (United States), an allegorical head (France) or figures (Bavaria). Russia, which Dr. Herz mentions, had the arms on its envelopes and it is possible that he got the idea from there. Anyway, until that time only Switzerland (Geneva and Basel) had used arms as a design on its stamps. Those of Geneva (1843 to 1849) could have been used as models for the first Austrian stamps, as they show similar features--- the double-lined frame, the positions of the inscriptions and some other small details--- but as Dr. Herz never mentions them, he does not seem to have known them at all and his idea of using the arms for the design was an original one as far as he was concerned.

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