The postage stamp issues of the First Republic of Austria
30 October 1918 - 13 March 1938

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Introduction and overview

This web site began as articles by J F Giblin printed in issues of 'Austria' in the 1970s, and has been updated expanded and supplemented with material from Austrian sources plus research by APS members and illustrations from their collections. It deals chronologically with the postage, postage-due, and newspaper-post stamps issued during the twenty years existence of the First Austrian Republic. It will attempt to detail most of the philatelic information which has been published on these issues and to place them in their historical and political context.

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Historical Introduction

A much longer version of the History of the First Republic, with links to the various Decrees, is in Appendix I.

Kaiser Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916 during the First World War and was succeeded by Kaiser Karl. When the war was lost the Empire disintegrated, and Karl "withdrew" (he did not formally abdicate). From 21 October to 11 November 1918, there were two governments in Austria! On 30 October 1918 the German-speaking part of the former monarchy was proclaimed by the new National Assembly as the independent republic of Deutsch-Österreich (literally German-Austria); it would seek union with Germany. This lasted for just under one year, until 21 October 1919, when the Austrian national assembly reluctantly accepted that under the Treaty of Saint Germain any efforts to unite with Germany were banned; and its claim to the German-speaking fringes of Czechoslovakia was rejected. A new law was enacted, setting aside the previous declaration and adopting the name "Republik Österreich" for the country. Interestingly, the name of Deutsch-Österreich remained in use on Austrian stamps until 1922.

The First Republic, which lasted from 1918 until 1938, was a state nobody really expected to last. As a result of the war, Austria had lost much of its raw materials and heavy industry in Bohemia, its food from Hungary (which was itself in turmoil), its access to the Mediterranean, the southern part of Tirol, and for a while its attraction for tourism. To this was added a disproportionately large capital city, the deadly flu epidemic of 1918-19, high unemployment, rampant inflation, a hopeless political split between the conservative countryside and the socialists in Vienna and the industrial centres, black markets, and marauding armed ex-soldiers who started forming paramilitary organisations on the political left and right.

Surrounded by mostly totalitarian states, the First Republic finally became a pseudo-fascist state in March 1934 under Engelbert Dollfuss, whose government, backed by the army and the Heimwehr (Home Defence Force), crushed a Socialist uprising. Soon he abolished all political parties except for his Fatherland Front. In July Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated and Kurt Schuschnigg took over. His right wing and anti-democratic government was quite unpopular, but in retrospect was perhaps unavoidable, since Austria was wedged between the competing and expansionist states of Hitler and Mussolini. When in 1938 German troops occupied Austria (the "Anschluss"), there was no effective resistance. Austria's Jews later had their assets expropriated, and unless they could escape were from 1942 deported to concentration camps such as Mauthausen and Auschwitz.

From 1938 until 1945, the Austrian state ceased to exist and the stamps and postal materials of the German Reich were used. The philatelic feature of greatest interest relating to these events was the use for several months of a mixture of Austrian and German stamps, during the several stages of the transition from the Austrian to the German system; for details of this see the Anschluss section below.

Organisation of this web site

Issues are presented according to the Austria Netto "Österreich Spezialkatalog" order, which is "the cast in order of appearance"; however the postage dues have been moved from Netto's end to their chronological position. Those seeking lists of plate faults should consult a catalogue - or for an exhaustive list ALL the catalogues since their contents overlap but don't coincide. Most of the earlier dates-of-issue are taken from Kroiss' work "Belege der Österreichischen Inflationszeit 1918-1925". Some are later than those in the Post Office Instructions reproduced by Karasek and others - however Kroiss may be giving "date first found actually used".

Click a chapter title to jump to it:

  1. The heller-kronen stamp issues of the Republic of German Austria.
  2. The heller-kronen stamp issues of the Republic of Austria.
  3. The groschen-schilling stamp issues of the Republic of Austria up to March 1934.
  4. The groschen-schilling stamp issues of the Republic of Austria from March 1934.
  5. The Anschluss - transition of the Austrian post into the German.
  6. Before and after?
  7. Appendix I is a more detailed introduction to the history and politics of First Republic Austria.
  8. Appendix II illustrates and explains the parts of German Austria (as at 1919), especially around the fringes of today's Czech Republic.
  9. Appendix III shows Karl's renunciation letter of 11 November 1918.
  10. Appendix IV discusses postwar plebiscites and the stamps and propaganda labels issued for them.
  11. Appendix V analyses the 1910 census data and discusses the actual population numbers.
  12. Acknowledgements and References.

In this rather long page, and also on the other pages, an upwards-pointing arrowhead will take you back to the top.

The Republic of German Austria

The 1919 overprinted issues

The 1918 Postage Dues

The 1919 Newspaper Post Issue

Express stamps, 1916-1922

The 1919-1920 Definitive Issue

The 'Parliament' stamps

The Postage Due Issue of 1920-21

The "Renner" Newspaper Issue of 1920

The Definitive Issue of 1920-21

The Unissued Airmail Stamp of 1922

The Carinthian Plebiscite Issue of 1920

The "Nachmarke" of 1921

The Flood Relief Issue of 1921

The Republic of Austria: Heller-Kronen currency

New designs competition

The "Österreich" Inflation Issue of 1922-1924

The 1921-1922 "Dachauer" newspaper post stamps

The 1922-1924 postage dues

The Musicians or Composers Set of 1922

The Airmail Set of 1922-1924

The "State Capitals" charity issue of 1923

The "Artists' Charity Set" of 1924

The Republic of Austria: Schilling currency

The Definitive Set of 1925-1927

The 1925-1934 Postage Due Issue

The Airmail Set of 1925-1930

The "Nibelungen" Child Welfare Set of 1925

The "10th Anniversary of the Republic" Charity Set, 1928

The "Large Landscapes" Definitive Set of 1929-1931

The Wilhelm Miklas Charity Stamp, 1930

The Rotary Congress Stamps of 1931

The Austrian Writers Charity Set of 1931

The "Small Landscapes" Definitive Set of 1932

The "Seipel" Charity Stamp of 1932

The Austrian Painters Charity Set of 1932

The First F.I.S. Set of 1933

The Republic of Austria: Dolfuss' Ständestaat

The WIPA Stamp of 1933

The "Relief of Vienna and pan-German Catholic Congress" set of 1933

The first "Winter Relief" Set of 1933

The "Costumes" Definitive Issue of 1934-1936

The Dollfuss stamps of 1934, 1935 & 1936

The "Austrian Architects" Set of 1934

The First "Mothers Day" Stamp of 1935

The 1935 Postage Dues

The "Aeroplanes over Austrian Landscapes" Airmail set of 1935

The Second "Winter Relief" set of 1935

The "Austrian Heroes" set of 1935

The Second F.I.S. Set of 1936

The Second "Mothers Day" Stamp of 1936

The Third "Winter Relief" Set of 1936

The "Austrian Inventors" set of 1936

The Third "Mothers Day" Stamp of 1937

The "Centenary of the Danube Steam Navigation Co." set of 1937

The Fourth "Winter Relief" Set of 1937

The "Centenary of the Austrian Railways" Set of 1937

The "Austrian Doctors" Set of 1937

The "Greetings" Stamp Issue of 1937

Planned for 1938 but not issued

What happened before and after the First Republic?

A summary history of Austria from the arrival of the Romans up to joining the European Union is on a separate part of the APS web site.

The transition of the Austrian post into the German

This is dealt with in a second separate part of the APS web site. Its sections are:

Acknowledgements and References

The author (Andy Taylor) thanks all those who provided assistance, examples, articles, and information; or contributed to discussions on topics both central and peripheral to the subject: including but not restricted to (in alphabetical order!) D Baron, J Boyer, K Brandon, M Brumby, R Morrell, Dr H Moser, Dr J Pitts, H Pollak, Mag. E Sinnmayer, Yvonne Wheatley. The patience of Österreichische Post AG, the Austrian State Archive, and the Library of the Technical Museum in Vienna are gratefully acknowledged. However, the mistakes, misprints, ill-founded rationalisations and groundless speculations are All My Own Work.

Long lists exist of works on the history, politics, and philately of Austria, and even if restricted to those in English they are still long. A selection is here.

And finally

The author will be grateful for any corrections, additions, technical complaints and so on! Email

©Andy Taylor and the Austrian Philatelic Society. Last updated 3 May 2023