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The mean­ing of stamps

Stamps are far more than just a means of paying for postage: They reflect their times and represent Germany abroad – they are also tiny works of art and can even be used to make a donation to charity. Few people realise that all stamps bearing the inscription “Deutschland” are issued by the German Finance Ministry.

Stamps as reflections of their times

From rousing events and exceptional individuals to literary masterpieces, architectural highlights and natural wonders – stamps are multifaceted reflections of everyday German culture. These tiny bits of paper pay tribute to many of the things that have been important for Germany, both in the past and in the present.

To the current stamps (only in German)

Representing Germany abroad with stamps

How do Germans perceive their own country? What image of Germany should be presented to the world? Stamps convey a multifaceted picture of Germany and are representatives of German culture and history.

In addition, joint-issue stamps that Germany regularly produces in cooperation with other countries serve to commemorate people and events that have strengthened ties across national borders. Such stamps convey a message of friendship and partnership.

Ger­many's Spe­cial-edi­tion stamp pro­gramme 2019 [PDF, 1MB] (file does not meet accessibility standards)

Donating to charity with stamps

Stamps can also be used to support good causes. Every year, the German Finance Ministry issues special “plus stamps” which cost a little extra in addition to the postage fee. These contributions benefit good causes such as social assistance programmes, youth welfare, the Stiftung Deutsche Sporthilfe (German Sport Support Foundation), environmental protection and the Stiftung Philatelie und Postgeschichte (Foundation for Philately and Postal History). The small additional amounts of 30 to 55 cents certainly add up, raising roughly €10 million every single year.

More on the “plus stamps”

Stamps are tiny works of art

Stamps are far more than just a means of paying for postage – they are entire works of art on a space of merely 3.5 by 3.5 centimetres. Depicting important themes within a minimum of space is an art unto itself. For every new stamp, several specialised graphic designers are asked to create designs. Only one of them will actually make it onto a real-life stamp.

Stamps – a matter for the Minister

All stamps bearing the inscription “Deutschland” are issued by the German Finance Ministry. The Ministry acts not only as the highest German revenue authority, but, by issuing stamps, the Ministry also plays a role in chronicling contemporary German history and supporting charities in Germany.

Since 1998, it is the German Finance Minister who decides on the design of stamps on the basis of a clearly defined set of criteria. In making this decision, the Minister is supported by two advisory committees.

More on how stamps are produced

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