Germany and the Complexity of Michel Catalog

The German area,  as collected by the Michel catalog is the most diverse and complicated collecting area in the world. The Michel Germany specialized catalog and the Gansachen (that is postal stationery catalogs) of German and the German Area run nearly 4000 pages and list and price nearly one million stamps and specialty pieces. A complete Germany collection has never been made and rarely even attempted. Germany dwarfs in complexity British Commonwealth and French Community collecting and rivals in complexity United States philately, though Germany far exceeds US in scope. The reasons are two. First, Germany’s complex political history has created far more philatelic entities than any other philatelic specialty. There are the component States that confederated in 1870 to form modern Germany. There are the war induced issues of WW I and WW II,  post war allied and Soviet occupation issues, Colonies and more. The second reason that German area philately is so vast is that the Germans have specialized every aspect of the hobby, listing varieties that in other nations might only be pursued by the most arcane specialists. Michel not only lists booklets but various combinations made from uncut booklet sheets (similar to what American collectors do with the Farley issues with crossed gutter blocks etc.). Shades and perf varieties abound.  Indeed in complexity, scope and consistency of organization the Michel catalog is a work of art. The stereotype of the organized German is certainly true of their catalog and philately.

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