Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands
Postal Stationery — Card P 1
by Dirk H.R. Spennemann

History Description Examples of Cancelled Items Modern Reprints and Forgeries





The initial tests considered various types of overprints over the standard Eagle series definitive post cards. Overprinted were 5Pf postcards with watermark 97C and gaps at 30r + 5l, A total run of 20 cards was made.[1]


Berne Issue

To comply with the regulations of the World Postal Union, in February 1897 the German government printed 800 sets of all postcards. 760 of the sets were delivered to Berne (Switzerland) while the remaining 40 sets went to the Imperial Post Museum. These sets were to be distributed to the member states as samples. While such samples were commonly overprinted 'Specimen, ' this was not feasible, if the overprint 'Marschall-Inseln' should not be obscured. Thus the cards sent were actual and valid cards. Some of these found their way into the stamp trade and were acquired by collectors.

Produced were 5Pf postcards 97E and 97L with gaps at 30r + 5l [2]

In March 1897 another set of samples was printed. These cards were destined for internal postal education and reference use only. These were 5Pf cards 97Z with gap at 15l ; 5Pf + 5Pf reply cards nŮ 397f; 10 Pf cards nŮ 397f and 10Pf + 10Pf reply cards 1295f.[3]


Jaluit Issue

The first German cards specifically made for the Marshall Islands were standard German Eagle cards with the overprint Marschall-Inseln. Available in Jaluit were the 5Pfg and the 10 Pfg cards. [6] The issued 5Pfg cards have the watermark 99S and the gaps indicating March (abc = 84%) and c (16%). The 10Pfg cards carry the control number 397f. According to contemporary discussion the reply cards remained essays.[7]


Berlin Issue

Just as stamps of the first issue of the Eagle series were reprinted by the Imperial printery, so were postcards. The cards can be identified by watermark 99M with gaps at g + h + i, indicating that they overprints were made on card stock printed in September 1899, well after the time that the second issue (Marshall-Inseln, P5) was already printed and availabe for sale.[8]



P 1
Watermark 98Z March 1898)

Gap combinations of the 5Pf Marschall-Inseln Postcard P1 [9]
WatermarkMonthsgap at leftgap at rightMonth Printed
97 Ca + m530January 1897
97 Ea + m530January 1897
97 La + b + m5 + 1030February 1897
97 La + m530February 1897
97 Zc15 (2x) March 1897
98 Zb + c10 +15 March 1898
98 Zc15 (2x) March 1898
99 M *)i + h + g 15 + 10 + 5September 1899
99 Sa + b + c5 + 10 + 15 March 1899
99 Sc 16 (!) March 1899
*) Reprint, created in September 1899, after the Marschall-Inseln had been replaced by Marshall-Inseln overprints. (see Berlin issue above)


Angle of Overprint

As the postcards were not overprinted while they were still part of complete and uncut sheets of 25 post cards, but were overprinted as already cut, single cards. The cards were printed on a small press, where the overprint cliché was repositioned every time a new colonial stock was to be printed. Between the alignment errors introduced there and the variation caused by the single-feed of the card stock, the angle and position of the overprint can vary. On record (for all colonies) are angle variations between 42 degrees to 58 degrees. In addition double prints as well as missing overprints on one side of the reply card are known.[12]


Quantities sent

500 copies of the 99S cards were sent to Jaluit, with the gap combinations a+b+c (84%) and c (16%).[13]



Like the Eagle series stamps, the Eagle series cards of both the Marschall-Inseln and the Marshall-Inseln issues remained valid until 30 September 1901, after which only Yacht series cards were legal postage.[14]


Examples of Cancelled Items


Modern Reprints and Forgeries

Like other post card forgeries were made of this series in the 1970s. These items are printed in better quality, more glossy card stock.. These reprints can also be identified by details in the drawing of the scroll and leaves.

[Contents]    [Eagle Series Stationery]    [Stationery, general]

Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2002). Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands. Postal Stationery — Card P 1
URL: http:/

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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