Austrian Cover Featuring Reich Obliteration Series (Stampex Purchase)

Letter from Dr. Josef Kohn Rechtsanwalt (Lawyer) to Bezirksgericht Wien (Vienna Disctrict Court)

The above cover is the first post-war obliterated Reich stamp cover I’ve ever purchased (I did get another at Stampex as well). This series of stamps were issued immediately after WWII — the postal authority used the existing stock of Reich stamps and obliterated Hitler’s face (as well as a few other contemporary designs) with lines and other overprints. There are a variety of designs (see ANK 660–696) of varying levels of complexity and obliteration, as well as local issues.

Before getting into the stamp itself, I’ll go a little into what I’ve found about the sender and recipient. I haven’t been able to find any information on Dr. Josef Kohn specifically, but I am assuming he was a lawyer — “Rechtsanwalt” translates to Lawyer, according to Google Translate. I’ve found Porzellangasse 45 below in Google Maps.

It also makes sense that this person would be a lawyer, because it is addressed to “Bezirksgericht Wien” (District Court Vienna). The address only specifies Riemergasse — but after doing a little bit of searching I found this page from the Vienna Courts wiki which listed the address as Riemergasse 1–3. I was able to quickly find it (below) by finding the street and matching it to the facade of the building, which is still there.


The Stamp

The stamp is an ANK 670, which was issued on 6/21/1945. The usage here is only 5 days after (6/26/1945) — so close to a first day cover! I have a lot more to learn about these circle-bridge postmarks, but for now I’ve highlighted what I was able to decipher. It is my understanding that the numbers on either side of the city name (in this case Wien) refer to the numbered post office, and the number at the bottom might reference the counter at said post office — but I have yet to find a definitive source on this and welcome any suggestions. The denomination is in line with local rates — the ANK lists the domestic local letter rate during this time to be 8 Rpf (Reichspfennig) as it was still in use for a short time after the war.

If you’ve seen the Reich overprint stamps, you might recognize that this is the second major issue of overprints on Reich stamps. The preceding design only had the diagonal “Österreich” overprint but the authorities at the time (Soviet occupiers) did not believe it obscured enough of Hitler’s face, so they redesigned the overprint with all of the vertical bars (per a note in the ANK).

The most interesting part of this stamp to me, however, is the broken 5th line of the lower section of the overprint. I can’t find anything specifically about this in the ANK, so I don’t know if it is a true plate flaw or a coincidence of the printing, something stuck to the plate, etc — but it’s nothing like any of the mint or used examples already in my collection. This is another piece of the puzzle I would love to hear from someone about if you can point me to a source.

ANK lists this stamp on cover with a catalog value of 50 EUR, given the beautiful condition as well as the broken bar, I didn’t have any issues paying roughly 60% of that for this cover. Even the inky fingerprints are interesting…was that from the sender? The person at the mail counter when the Dr Kohn or his assistant dropped the letter off? We’ll never know.

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