Austria First Issues

Of all the first issue imperfs of all the major countries, Austrian first issues are among the most interesting and certainly among the most inexpensive. The first stamp in yellow and the second stamp in black are the scarcest, selling for about $20 each (and the balance of the set (Scott #3-5) can be had for about $5). A similar set was issued for the Austrian administered province of Lombardy-Venetia which includes the large portion of Northern Italy which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at this period.

The first issues of Austria may be the most minutely specialized in the world and this is helped by the fact that the stamps are so modestly priced that they are the easiest classic stamps to collect in a specialized way on an ordinary budget. The specialization possibilities of these stamps are vast. Collectors collect by shade as they do for most other classics which went through many printings over a period of years. But also these stamps are specialized by paper type. The Scott specialized catalog lists machine and handmade paper as major paper types but the more specialized Michel catalog and the vastly technical Ferchanbauer catalog list paper varieties depending on the measurable thickness of the paper of the stamps (gentleman-micrometers ready!). Beyond this there is the scope of cancellations, usages and printing varieties. The relative availability of these stamps and the minute specialization opportunities make finds for specialists still possible. For most of the classic period of philately, Austro-Hungary was one of the most successful commercial nations of the world and its philately is very interesting.

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