IBRA News 01.02.2023 – Special stamp for “Stamp Day 2023” shows philatelic treasures: The Stralsund letter

(rk/esc-bpdh) Bisections are among the great treasures of philately in the old German states. The special issue stamp for Stamp Day 2023 therefore shows the legendary “Stralsund letter” from Prussia, which, in addition to a normal stamp, bears the halving of a 2 Silbergroschen stamp as a substitute for a 1 Groschen stamp on the front of the letter. The letter was addressed to a master mason in Berlin. Since the sender of the letter did not have a suitable stamp at hand, he cut the stamp before affixing it to the letter. Obviously, the fact that the postal regulations did not explicitly allow the halving of postage stamps was overlooked. The post offices did not see any need to regulate this, since all value levels for a complete franking were available at the post offices. Although these cases were not regulated, the known halvings show that for the most part these letters were carried without complaint and the halvings were tolerated and no additional postage was collected.

The Stralsund cover is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful halvings in Old Germany and impresses both with the neat cancellation of the stamps with the two-circle cancel of Stralsund and with the caligraphically impressive address to a master bricklayer in Berlin. The right stamp of a pair of the 2 Silbergroschen value of the second Prussian issue of 1857 was halved on a smooth ground. This was to achieve a franking of three Silbergroschen in accordance with the tariff for a letter up to one Loth for a distance over 20 miles. The exact year of this halving cannot be determined due to the lack of letter contents. The cancellation of the stamps with the postmark, which was customary from 1 April 1859, suggests that the halving can date from 1860 at the earliest. At that time the stamps used had already been replaced by a new issue on a gridded ground.

The bisection shown here is one of four known bisections of the Kingdom of Prussia and the only bisection of the second issue. The letter was originally in the collection of the famous collector Philipp von Ferrari. The next trace is found in 1937, when the Rothschild collection was auctioned off and the Stralsund letter found a new owner. In the past decades, the letter was traceable in the collections of the well-known collectors John R. Boker and Erivan Haub.

This stamp also appears as a “philatelic souvenir sheet” (souvenir sheet 91) and is therefore only available from the Weiden dispatch office and the Deutsche Post exhibition stands at Philatelia in Munich and IBRA in Essen.
At the same time, the philatelic souvenir sheet is Deutsche Post’s first stamp issue with a reference to IBRA in Essen: The block’s edge discreetly bears the reference IBRA 2023. At IBRA, the cover is shown in the original as part of a well-known Prussia exhibit at the competitive exhibition.


First day of issue: 02.03.2023
Design of the postage stamp and first day cancel: Ruven Wiegert, Berlin
Text: Reinhard Küchler/Eric Scherer, Bund deutscher Philatelisten e. V. (BDPh e. V.), Bonn
Value: 85 cents

The stamp, souvenir sheet and first day cancel can be ordered from the Deutsche Post dispatch office at

Deutsche Post AG
Philately Branch
Franz-Zebisch-Str. 15
92626 Weiden