250th! Celebrate Beethoven’s birthday with stamps

250th! Celebrate Beethoven’s birthday with stamps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer up stamps for Beethoven’s birthday. As expected, Germany and Austria both issued special stamps commemorating the event.

Germany’s 250th Beethoven birthday stamp

Beethoven was born in Bonn 250 years ago so it’s not surprising Germany issued more than a stamp to celebrate the day.

Stamp issued for Beethoven's birthday - Germany's stamp showing Beethoven's face, with a blue background

Stamp designed by Thomas Steinacker of Bonn

Wer kennt sie nicht, die Mondscheinsonate, das Klavierstück Für Elise, die 5. Sinfonie, die auch Schicksalssinfonie genannt wird, und die 9. Sinfonie, deren letzter Satz die Grundlage der Europahymne bildet. Alle vier Musikstücke stammen von Ludwig van Beethoven, der als einer der berühmtesten und meistgespielten Komponisten aller Zeiten gilt. Mit seinem Werk hat er die Wiener Klassik zur höchsten Entwicklung geführt und der Musik der Romantik den Weg bereitet. Seine Schöpfungen zählen zum kulturellen Erbe der Menschheit und seine handschriftliche Aufzeichnung der 9. Sinfonie ist Bestandteil des Weltdokumentenerbes der UNESCO.

Ludwig van Beethoven (getauft 1770, gestorben 1827) war der Spross einer musikalischen Familie und ein klavierspielendes Wunderkind. Er lebte und wirkte zunächst in Bonn, danach bis zu seinem Lebensende in Wien. Er hat, trotz seiner Ertaubung, ein umfangreiches musikalisches Werk hinterlassen. Aus dem beeindruckenden Gesamtwerk ragen vor allem die neun Sinfonien, die fünf Klavierkonzerte und 32 Klaviersonaten sowie eine Vielzahl kammermusikalischer Werke heraus.

Who doesn’t know the Moonlight Sonata, piano piece For Elise, the 5th Symphony, also called the Symphony of Destiny, and the 9th Symphony, the last movement of which forms the basis for the European anthem? All four pieces of music are by Ludwig van Beethoven, who is considered one of the most famous and most played composers of all time. With his works, he led Viennese classical music to the highest development and paved the way for the music of Romanticism. His creations are part of the cultural heritage of mankind and his handwritten 9th Symphony is part of UNESCO’s World Documentary Heritage.

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 1770, died 1827) was born to a musical family and was piano prodigy. He lived and worked first in Bonn, then, until the end of his life, in Vienna. Despite his deafness, he left behind an extensive musical work. The nine symphonies, five piano concertos and 32 piano sonatas as well as a variety of chamber music works are stand outs in his impressive complete works. 250. Geburtstag Ludwig van Beethoven, Briefmarke zu 0,80 €, 10er-Bogen | Shop Deutsche Post

Deutsche Post offers several products, including the expected single stamp, souvenir sheet, maxicard and coins. Check them out at their online shop, Shop der Deutschen Post | Porto online kaufen (deutschepost.de), and use “Beethoven” in the search box if you want to see all items.

The souvenir sheet is attractive and displays the design better than the single stamp. It hides a mildly irritating design element. The top of the stamp spills off the edge, creating a bit of an unbalanced look by making it appear improperly cropped. it’s a jarring feature that doesn’t sit well with the stamp collector in me. The lack of top margin works on the full sheet though. I haven’t quite figured out why, but I suspect the stamp was designed with a sheet in mind. The lack of white margin on the top helps the eye run down the full sheet. Without the top margin, the stamps space out better.
Souvenin sheet of 10 stamps from German post office

Souvenir sheet for Beethoven’s 250th birthday

Maxi card celebrating Beethoven’s birthday

Photo of a First Day Cover showing stamps, special cancel mark and photo of Beethoven's bust

Beethoven’s 250th on a postcard

Austria’s Beethoven birthday offerings

Not to be outdone, Österreichische Post also issued a stamp for the occasion.
Austrian Post office stamp commemorating Beethoven's birthday. Stamp shows Beethoven's profile

Austrian Post’s offering


Die Österreichische Post ehrt den 250. Geburtstag des großen Komponisten mit einer mit Folienprägung veredelten Sondermarke, die sein bekanntes Porträt von Joseph Karl Stieler zeigt.
During his entire life, Ludwig van Beethoven had close ties to Vienna, the city of music, even though he was originally from Bonn. 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of his birthday. Österreichische Post celebrates this occasion by issuing a commemorative stamp dedicated to this genius of music. This stamp features a detail from the well-known portrait of the artist by Joseph Karl Stieler from 1820 along with Beethoven’s signature in silver foil embossing. Post AG
Of the two, I prefer this one. The colours stand out and with the addition of the foil embossing, the overall design has a stronger visual appeal. Combined with balanced margins, this is stamp with a better overall look. Designer Karin Klier did an outstanding job on this issue.  Klier is with the design firm Bureau Cooper. I know Cooper has designed several stamps for Austria Post since 2010, but unfortunately, their website isn’t the most informative. You can take a look at previous stamps here Bureau Cooper | Österreichische Post.
Envelope showing the Austrian Beethoven birthday stamp with special cancel mark

Austrian cover by Cooper Design

Österreichische Post |Austrian Post Maxi-card

Maxi Card by Austrian post

Impressive post card

The maxi-card (aka post card) would be a nice souvenir to send to a Beethoven lover. You can buy all items at Post AG. Use the search menu to see all Beethoven related stamps and/or coins. As of today (Dec 16th, 2020) all are still available for sale at their respective post office online stores.


If you are a collector of world-wide stamps, check out my growing spreadsheet of post offices around the world. It’s ever changing as I acquire more details. It has links to post offices and (if available) online stores. If you spot an error, pop me a comment.  It’s easy to edit someone else’s work, but a royal pain editing my own. Post Offices Around World | Bitter Grounds Magazine


Banner reading "Big List of Post Offices from around the world"
Austrian stamp, 2020 & a sense of humour

Austrian stamp, 2020 & a sense of humour

The Austrian post office outdid themselves in October with a stamp that perfectly symbolizes 2020.

An Austrian stamp - showing a cartoon baby elefant printed on toilet paper for Covid

Remember – stay one baby elephant away

That is a piece of toilet paper and it’s a legitimate Austrian stamp.  The design perfectly describes what all of us think about the year so far. In case you are struggling with the stamp, the point is to emphasis distances. It’s a little reminder to stay 1 meter or 1 baby elephant away from others to help prevent the spread of Covid.

It isn’t marked as sold out on the Austrian Post website, so if you are interested, you can still buy it here.  If you are looking for out-of-the-box designs this is a find. It’s a semi-postal block, screen printed on toilet paper. It’s currently selling for €5.50 and is one of those stamps that makes me wonder if it will become a hot collectable in the future.  It certainly is fascinating, from both a design and historical perspective.

Marion Füllerer, designer Oct. 2020 Austrian stamp

The designer, Marion Füllerer  describes the stamp on her website:

Im Auftrag der Österreichischen Post AG entstand dieser Briefmarkenblock auf Klopapier um die besondere Corona-Zeit fest zu halten. Klopapier wurde in Österreich zu Beginn der Pandemie zur Mangelware. Der Babyelefant ist das österreichische Symbol für den Sicherheitsabstand


On behalf of the Austrian Post AG, this stamp block was created on toilet paper to capture the special Corona period. At the beginning of the pandemic, toilet paper became a scarce commodity in Austria. The baby elephant is the Austrian symbol for the safety distance.
Marion Füllerer Wir Gestalten

Stamps have been printed on a variety of materials over the years, but this is the first on toilet paper. It is symbolic, as many countries experienced an irrational run on items like toilet paper at the start of the pandemic. The stamp takes a lighthearted poke at the initial panic when Covid-19 hit yet still maintains a serious “be safe” tone.

The designer was quite brave in using toilet paper for this Austrian stamp. I’ve read a few criticisms about it, calling it in bad taste, but it isn’t. It’s the stamp for Covid-19. It’s been a tough year all around and an injection of humour certainly helps. As well, this simple, clean design is soothing. Lots of white space, clear symbols, easy to understand and amusing. I love it.

I’m going to keep an eye open for future stamps by Marion Füllerer and have added her to my spreadsheet of stamp designers to watch. The spreadsheet is coming along slowly and when I get it a bit more organized, I’ll share it with you.

I’ve included this post in both the Design and Stamp categories. The more I explore who designs the stamps, the greater my appreciation has been of the incredible tiny works of art produced by unsung heroes of philately. So many of us collect stamps but rarely give pause to the people who put their heart and souls into creating them. Hence the slight shift in some of my articles in putting a light on the creators, not just the topic.

Don’t forget, like this page on Facebook or Twitter (links below) if you want to see the latest articles as they are published. I will be publishing a list of all post offices in the world along with links to their stores and in some cases, their online catalogues made available to the public. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the list. It takes a lot of time to find working links because not all post offices make it easy to find newsletters and lists of available stamps. I’m aiming to have it up, in spreadsheet format, by the end of this week.

In the meantime, later everyone. Let me know if you managed to buy this Austrian stamp.