Heinrich von Stephan


Portrait and autograph of Heinrich von StephanHeinrich von Stephan (1831-1897) was born as Heinrich Stephan in a family in Pomerania. In school Von Stephans remarkable gifts were noticed. Not only did he pass his exams with excellent grades, he was also a very fine musician. In 1849 he started to work in the German post. He became General Post Master in the North German Confederation and after the founding of the German Empire he became Secretary to the Reichspostamt and in 1895 Minister of State. In this function he was responsible for the organisation of the German postal service.


Von Stephan introduced the uniform letter tariff in Germany, the post card, the secrecy of correspondence, the telegraph and the telephone. In 1872 he founded the still existing German Postal Museum in Berlin.


Portrait of Heinrich von Stephan as a young manHis main international achievement is the founding of the General Postal Union (since 1878 Universal Postal Union). Through his diplomacy he managed to gather postal representatives from 22 countries in Bern from 15 September 1874. His German experiment with uniform tariffs and his other postal regulations were now implemented on a world scale. Until 1891 he functioned as director-general of the UPU.


At the end of his life diabetes caused one of his legs to be amputated. He died on 8 April 1897. He was laid to rest at the Dreifaltigkeitsfriedhof (Trinity Cemetary) in Berlin. His grave is marked by a statue of a grieving woman by Joseph Uphues.


Stamps from Germany 1924His birth and death anniversaries have been commemorated through numerous stamps and postal stationery from all over the world. In many German towns streets and squares were named after him. In front of the General Post Office in Schwerin a marble portrait was placed in 1898. Also in the Postal Museum in Berlin a statue was erected soon after his death. This statue was destroyed by the East German leadership in the 1950s.





Heinrich von Stephan in Wikipedia.



Catalogue - 50th death anniversary (1947)


Germany (Allied occupation)                         15 May 1947



Catalogue - 150th anniversary (1981)


Benin                                                          9 October 1981

German Democratic Republic                        20 January 1981

Tunisia                                                        7 January 1981



Catalogue - death centenary (1997)


Bangladesh                                                  8 April 1997

Republic of Moldova                                     18 October 1997

Suriname                                                     31 January 1997



Catalogue - other issues


Belgium                                                       5 October 1974

Germany                                                     May 1924

Germany                                                     24 June 1924

Germany                                                     9 October 1924

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