Katherina Graber - a letter to Kitzbühel in 1787

By Andy Taylor

At the "Tirol 2003 Philatelistischer Salon" held by Innsbruck Merkur on September 5-7, the club members followed the normal Austrian practice of bringing items to sell to each other - and to us. "Look at this", said Joyce, "it's Kitzbühel and might interest you." So I bought it... and it does! Note: the original is faded ink on buff paper and very difficult to read; the illustrations have been colour-enhanced.

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frontIt is addressed to "Dem Stadt Magistrat zu Kitzbühel / Kitzbühel / Partheysach" ie "To the local government office of Kitzbühel, at Kitzbühel [a document for a participant in a legal matter]". It was sent in 1787 from the Kreisamt [regional government office] in Schwaz. It's a double sheet of cartridge paper, 445mm x 350mm when opened, and weighs about 12 grams. Assuming the Vienna system, the Viennese Pound weighed 560 grams and contained 32 Wiener-Loth each of 17.5 grams; so 12 grams equals 0.686 Loth which counted as 0.7 and fell into the "1 Loth band". The rate for this date for letters within Tirol is "6Kr + 6Kr for 1 Loth". The document has a diagonal red line and the figure 6, which implies that the sender has paid half the rate, leaving the recipient to pay the other half. (The vertical line is dirt on an old paper fold!) There is no visible mark indicating arrival or payment, which is normal. Anyway, there was no post office at Kitzbühel in 1787; it opened on 1st May 1840. In 1850 the main postal route ran from Wörgl via Söll to St Johann, then to Waidring and onwards to Lofer & Salzburg. Kitzbühel was served by a by-post from St Johann and seems to have sent its outgoing mail by a messenger to St Johann, 3 times per week. There may have been a messenger fee, but there is no marking indicating this.
Opening it out reveals further wonders! The document has a filing note on the back in a different ink, saying "Hoche Auswand[er]ungs Bewilligung für die Katherina Graberin Berichtet d. 18. Aug." which means "Official emigration permission for Katherina Graber, 18 Aug." [plus assorted file numbers.]

The other half is dated 21 June 1787, with a 10Kr revenue imprint. The document was sealed with very thin red wax, with an embossed seal, and cut around that to open it. The paper has a large Makers Watermark: two outward-looking single-headed eagles supporting a crowned shield with the letters CI / N / II.
embossed seal

"Stempelsignetten Katalog von Österreich-Ungarn I.Band: Die Urkundenstempel" by L Hanus, describes documentary stamp tax imprints up to the introduction of revenue stamps in 1854. It seems that until Josef II's reign the stamp tax was rather chaotic, with different parts of the Empire paying different rates (or none!) all indicated by different imprints. Such untidiness offended him, and he introduced a simpler system, the "Neues Stempelpatente) ", on 5 June 1784. The Tirol was granted reduced rates, paying 10Kr for documents concerning sums over 100 but not over 500 Gulden; most of the rest of the Empire paid 15Kr for these. The special Tirolean rate was shown by a special imprint; the 10Kr is a rococo frame containing 'a lean eagle'. These rates applied until 1 May 1792, when they were abolished. See Hanus pages 43-44.

So what is it about?


The document is an official permission to Katherina Graber of Kizbühel to emigrate to Salzburg [NB: in 1787 Salzburg was a separate country from Austria, ruled by the Prince-Archbishop Colloredo] when 32 kreuzer have been paid, and some arrangement has been made for when she receives property in the Tirol. Incidentally, Decrees of Josef II between 1781 & 1785 abolished the requirement to seek the Feudal Lord's permission before leaving or marrying. Transcribing & translating (with the patient assistance of John Whiteside and Henry Pollak: my thanks to both)...

Stadt Magistrat zu Kitzbühel Publicum Nr 481 [Signet] The Local Government Office of Kitzbühel, [document? Case?] Nr 481
Dem Kreisamtlichen Einrathen vom 11ten dieses Monats gemäss wird in Folge Gubernialdekrets vom 12ten Currentis der Katherina Graberin von Kitzbühel die Auswanderung und Verheirathung in das Salzburgische gegen deme verwilliget, daß die Vorsorge zu treffen, wenn ihr seiner Zeit ein hierländiges Vermögen [1] zufallen sollte, die Abfahrt und Emigrations Gebühr gehörig entrichten werden solle. There follows in accordance with the Kreisamt Council Meeting of the 11th of this month, an Official Decree of the 12th to Katherina Graber of Kitzbühel [giving her permission to] emigrate and marry in Salzburg, in accordance with [the] full agreement to take precautions for when in due course property [1] devolves upon her in this country; the appropriate leaving and emigration taxes shall be paid.
Vornach dann die Impetrantin [2], und daßelben Vatter zu verständingen ist.

The petitioner and the father thereof are to be informed of this.

Vor den k.k. Kreisamt Schwaz 21 Juni 1787[done by] the k.k. Kreisamt at Schwaz 21 June 1787
Der Gubernial Stempel zu 10 kr dann Kreisamth Stempel und bezahlte Porto zu 22kr zusammen 32 kr kommen anher einzusenden. The Official Stamp for 10Kr with the Kreisamt Tax and postage [already] paid of 22Kr totalling 32Kr require paying.
The same signature 

1: Vermögen means especially money - is this her future inheritance?
2: Derived from the latin 'impetro', meaning 'to procure by entreating'?

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©Andy Taylor. Last updated 1 Dec 2017