Generally speaking, most Kriegsdruck high values (1 Mark and higher, or equivalent) occur with Michel type B perforations, while some Kriegsdruck and all Friedensdruck have Michel type A perforations. The difference is very small but can also be very valuable for some varieties.
While technically of the same gauge, type A perforations have 26 perforation holes across the top and bottom of the stamp and 17 perforation holes at left and right. These are also referred to as “26:17” perforations. Type B, in contrast, has 25 perforation holes across the top and bottom instead of 26 perforation holes, and are also known as “25:17” perforations.
Most colonial Kriegsdruck of the higher values that were produced exist with both types of perforations, and this leads to a relatively small difference in value between them, with Type A perfs valued between €5 and €15 more than type B for hinged 5 Mark stamps. But for some colonies, some issues with Type A perfs can be worth significantly more than Type B perfs, particularly for never hinged examples. The German East Africa 3 rupien with 26:17 perfs (Michel 39 II A) has a CV of between €400 and €700 for a never hinged example based on shade. The same stamp with 25:17 perfs (Michel 39 II B) is valued at €160 in never hinged condition.
The high value of the “Yacht” series was always printed in two colors: with one color for the frame and the other for the vignette. There were three types of frame and vignette used for printing this value. The main differences between the various types of vignette and frame can be found in the scroll at the top which shows the colony’s name, as well as the shells in the lower corners showing the denomination.
The scroll at the top of the frame shows a single, unbroken arc for the colony name, and was used for colonies with longer names. The upper arc of the vignette for type 1 is also unbroken and lines up with the bottom of the scroll. Three colonies (German New Guinea, German Southwest Africa, and the Marshall Islands) had 5 Mark stamps with type 1 frames and vignettes (below left).
Type 2 frames and vignettes were used for colonies with shorter names. The scroll at the top of the stamp that shows a name shows an additional “fold” in the scroll at both left and right, with these folds projecting down into the vignette. In order to allow for this, the type 2 vignette has two “bites” where the engraved lines of the clouds were removed, to keep the scroll work and the engraving illustrating the clouds from overlapping. The high values of the Yacht issue were issued with Type 2 vignettes and frames for all colonies except for German East Africa and the three that issued Type 1 stamps for this value (below right).
Type 3 vignettes and frames were prepared only for the 3 Rupien stamps of German East Africa. Type 3 is essentially identical to Type 1, except that the shells showing the denominations on type 3 are slightly larger than on type 1. This was necessary as the value “3 Rupien” took up more space than the corresponding value “5 Mark” on the type 1 issues, requiring the larger shells.
For all pre-war printings, the frame and vignette types were properly matched for each colony. But for some of the printings produced during the war, the stamps were produced so quickly that some 5 Mark stamps for New Guinea, South West Africa, and the Marshall Islands were printed with mismatched frames and vignettes. German New Guinea was the only colony where all three types of vignettes were used for different print runs, and of these, the combination of a Type 1 frame with a Type 3 vignette is the most valuable. The CV of the Type 1 frame with a Type 1 vignette is €180 versus €140 with a Type 2 vignette and €2200 for a Type 3 vignette (all in never hinged condition; significantly less in hinged).
German Southwest Africa and the Marshall Islands both had the combination of Type 1 frames with Type 2 vignettes in addition to type 1 vignettes and frames. This created two “bites” in the clouds below the band with the colony’s name on it, which appears as two small, white spaces amid the red clouds as can be seen in the top row of following scans.
The bottom row below shows the correctly paired Type 1 vignette and frame.
In German philately, special terms exist for postmarks and facilities that could travel. In German colonial philately, two of these apply: Seepost and Bahnpost. Seepost facilities were those which existed aboard ships, while Bahnpost facilities existed aboard trains. Each had distinctive postmarks and associated with them, and are highly collectable in their own right.
Seepost cancels can be found on nearly all German colonial issues. All of the German colonies had a sea coast, and most relied on ships to transport mail between the colonies and to / from Germany at one point or another. Most Seepost cancels show the name of the ship line on which they were applied. This was particularly true in the Pacific; these shipping lines could be the primary link between the colonies and the outside world. Examples of lines with colonial connections include the New Guinea line (as seen above) and the Jaluit line. Although individual colonies did not have their own Seepost markings, the German Offices in China did operate Seepost facilities between Shanghai and Tientsin, to speed up mail deliveries between different parts of China.
Bahnpost, on the other hand, was a bit more limited. The most extensive German-built railroads were installed in German Southwest Africa, German East Africa, and Kamerun (as seen above). The other colonies did not have any rail facilities except for Kiautschou. The Germans built a railroad in China’s Shandong (formerly Shantung) province connecting the city of Weihsien in China with the Kiautschou colonial capitol at Tsingtau, which would eventually provide rail connections between Kiautschou and Germany via Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway. All of these used oval cancel devices similar to those used on board trains in Germany proper for the length of colonial administration, except in German Southwest Africa where the use of such cancels ended in 1903.