Germany: Contemporary Design in Germany (Scott #2051), miniature sheet issued August 12, 1999

Without really attempting to, I have managed to compile a fairly complete collection of stamps issued by the various components of Germany during the 20th century, including her various divisions and colonies. My holdings for 19th and 21st century stamps are a bit sparse but I hope to resume adding those at some point. I have always purchased German stamps here and there without really striving for completeness; I simply liked the subject matter and designs. The collection was aided tremendously by my purchasing two jam-packed Davo albums several years ago. Thus, there may be a disproportionate number of German stamps featured on this blog compared to certain other entities.

This set illustrates what appeals to me when I look at so many stamps from modern Germany. The simple and clean look of these stamps really heightens the topic of the issue, Contemporary Design in Germany. The choices are intriguing as well; while there are a number of stamps illustrating television sets and certainly a wealth of philatelic trains, I would say there are not very many that show cutlery or bottles. I keep finding myself drawn to such everyday objects on postal emissions, a fascination probably sparked by Norway’s 1999 issue picturing a paper clip (Scott #1214) and fermented by the 2015 set of three stamps released by San Marino for World Toilet Day (Scott #1938-1940).

Norway: Norwegian Inventions (Scott #1913-1914) on first day cover issued January 2, 1999; an additional stamp released in 2000 featured an aerosol can (Scott #1260)

The German miniature sheet was released on August 12, 1999, in a print run of 8,000,000. It was designed by Ingo Wulff and printed by Bundesdruckerei using offset lithography on fluorescent paper with ordinary gum, comb-perforated 13¾ x 14. The sheet measures 55 x 33 mm while each individual stamp is 137.5 x 97 mm. Each stamp has a denomination of 110 pfennig making the sheets face value 440pf.

Braun Television HF 1, 1958. Design by Herbert Hirche
Germany Scott #2051a

Herbert Hirche (born May 20, 1910, in Görlitz and died January 28, 2002, in Heidelberg) was a German architect and furniture and product designer. According to MCM Daily, Hirche moved to Berlin to study at the renowned Bauhaus School in 1932 and was, in fact, one of the last Bauhaus graduates before the enforced closure of the school by the Nazis in 1933.

After graduating Hirche worked in Mies van der Rohe’s studio and subsequently joined the team of renowned German designer Egon Eiermann. After the war Hirche found work with the city of Berlin and joined the ranks of countless architects and designers in the mammoth task of rebuilding the German capital. Shortly thereafter, in 1948, he was appointed Professor of Applied Arts at the University of Applied Arts in Berlin-Weissensee. After working for various studios throughout Germany, Hirsche took up the position of Professor for interior and furniture design at the State Academy of fine arts in Stuttgart.

Braun Television HF 1, 1958 – Photo from

The stamp pictures television model HF 1, designed by Hirsch, produced by Braun starting in 1958-1959. Measuring 21.3 x 36.2 x 15.2 inches with the television enclosed in a wooden cabinet, it weighed 70 lb 7.8 oz and originally cost 840 German marks.

Herbert Hirche’s work is less known than that of his contemporaries but he was a pioneer who remains an important and influential figure in the story of the development of German industrial design with his own own unique minimalist vision.

Mono-A Cutlery, 1959. Design by Peter RAACKE
Germany Scott #2051b

The stamp with the spoons (plus, a knife and fork)…. While there are plenty of stamps that feature different types of cutlery, they are usually portrayed in conjunction with a plate or dish of food. Various gastronomy-themed stamps from places like Romania, Azerbaijan and Ukraine immediately spring to mind. Many others bear spoon-like utensils such as ladles sticking out of various vats and vessels of liquids. I can think of only one stamp containing spoons as a sole design element, issued by Albania in 2014. There is certainly no shortage of knives on stamps albeit the vast majority of these are the types used for cutting people in battle or duel.

We have Peter Raacke (born September 27, 1928, and died March 20, 2022) to thank for the wonderful set of tableware depicted on the next stamp. He created numerous everyday objects that have helped to shape the everyday culture of Germany. In 1966, he was the first to develop a range of cardboard furniture that was affordable for wide masses with low production costs and long runs. As a lecturer at the Universities of Design in Darmstadt, Saarbrücken, Kassel and Ulm and as a professor of industrial design at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg, he influenced many young designers. He retired in 1994.

mono-a flatware

Raacke is probably best known as the designer of the mono-a cutlery series designed by Peter Raacke which began production by Hessische Metallwerke Gebr. in Mettman, Germany, from 1959. Made of high-quality stainless steel, it is considered the most successful German designed cutlery. The timeless, bauhaus-influenced, straightforward design and independent appearance were unusual for a tableware series at the time. Originally, the individual parts were made of only one piece, the eponymous monoblock. The mono-a series has received international awards and has become a design classic.

The mono-e and mono-t cutlery series, also designed by Raacke in 1960, correspond to mono-a in their form, but are covered with dark ebony or teak on the handles. Raacke also designed the children’s cutlery mono petit and the kitchen set mono 10+1 (both 1959), as well as the cutlery series mono ring (1962), mono clip (1972) and mono oval (1982).

mono-a cutlery

A 24-piece Mono A set including 6 tablespoons, 6 table forks, 6 table knives with short blade and 6 coffee spoons in the standard stainless steel 18/10, brushed matte, currently costs €780.00 (not including shipping) on the mono GmbH website, the source for the mono-a photos included in this article.

Standard Fountain bottle for water, 1969. design by Günter Kupetz
Germany Scott #2051c

The standard fountain bottle for mineral water or fountain unit bottle (colloquially pearl bottle) is a 0.7-liter reusable bottle made of clear glass with screw cap for carbonated mineral water, lemonades and similar drinks. In German, this is called Normbrunnenflasche and was designed in 1968 by industrial designer Günter Kupetz. Characteristic of the shape is the constriction in the middle, which allows a secure grip, supplemented by 230 studs above it, which additionally increase the grip and symbolize the bubbling of the contents when opening. In the constriction is written in relief lettering “Deutscher Brunnen” and – surrounded by two logos with the inscription “GDB” for Genossenschaft Deutscher Brunnen – “Leihflasche” or “Mineralbrunnen Mehrweg-Leihflasche” with only one GDB logo. The underlying cylindrical part of the bottle, which is intended for the labels, is bordered at the top and bottom by two barely perceptible beads, which protect the surface of the bottles and the labels during automatic filling and cleaning as well as during transport. At the same time, they are an approximate indicator of how often a bottle has been reused: over time, contact with other bottles on the beads forms matte rings, which gradually become wider due to wear. When these rings reach a width of several millimeters after about 50 times of use, the bottle is sorted out.

A German „ de:Normbrunnenflasche“ for mineral water etc., designed by de:Günter Kupetz. About five billion pieces of this bottle were produced between 1969 and circa 2013.

The main technical innovation was the screw cap. It enables automatic filling with significantly more fillings per hour. At the same time, the number of bottles damaged during bottling decreased compared to the swing-top bottles. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the pearl bottle brought enormous advantages to the mineral fountains, as the circulation frequency of the bottles could be increased: With the same bottle stock, it was possible for a mineral fountain to carry out a higher number of fillings. This was possible because the pearl bottle is managed from the beginning as a nationwide reusable pool. Regardless of where a bottle has been bottled, it can be returned to virtually any retailer and only needs to be transported back to the nearest bottler.

The introduction of the bottle was decided on August 28, 1969, by a committee of 142 representatives of the German mineral spring industry at a meeting in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. The decision was preceded by preparatory work of about half a year. After there had been considerations in previous years for the introduction of a nationwide reusable bottle, these became more concrete in March 1969, when several designers were invited to Bonn by representatives of the mineral water industry.

PET model modelled on the standard fountain bottle

Since 1996, reusable bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) based on Kupetz’s design have been available in various sizes from 0.5 to 1.5 litres. They are considerably lighter than the standard fountain bottles, each weighing 600 grams, but can only be filled about 15 to 25 times. The standard fountain bottle and the green 0.75-litre bottle are reused up to 50 times.

Günter Kupetz (November 20, 1925 to March 24, 2018) created more than 1000 designs. Of these, the Pril detergent bottle from 1960, the button telephone for AEG Telefunken from 1962 and the chicken grill of the Wienerwald restaurants from 1963 are among the most famous. His standard fountain bottle for mineral water was produced about five billion times from 1971 to about 2013 and is thus probably the most common reusable packaging in Germany. Kupetz himself said: “I think the design is timeless and would say that you can’t really improve it.”

Transrapid-07, 1984. Designed by Alexander Neumeister
Germany Scott #2051d

Alexander Neumeister (born December 17, 1941, in Berlin) is a German designer specializing in technical design. Among Neumeister’s best-known works are the rail vehicles he designed. Among other things, he designed transrapid test vehicles. A cooperation with Hitachi, which has been ongoing since 1990, resulted in the design of the Japanese Shinkansen 500 high-speed train and designs for high-speed, regional and metro trains.

In addition, he designed numerous technical devices, including magnetic card readers, time recording terminals for companies, video conferencing systems, televisions and telephones. Another focus of his work is medical technology, such as lasers, dental devices, lithotripters and irradiation devices. Among the ships designed by Neumeister are the passenger ship MS 2000 (around 1988), which can accommodate around 1000 passengers and operates on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The Ferry Euregia designed by Neumeister with a capacity of 700 passengers and 300-ton payload has been in operation on Lake Constance between Friedrichshafen and Romanshorn since July 1998.

Transrapid 07 is currently on display at the Munich Airport Center, Munich, Bavaria.

Transrapid is a German-developed high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Planning for the Transrapid system started in 1969 with a test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany, completed in 1987. In 1991, technical readiness for application was approved by the Deutsche Bundesbahn in cooperation with renowned universities. The 1999 stamp depicts Transrapid 07, giving a date of 1984 for the design while Wikipedia mentions that it was presented to the public at the International Transportation Exhibition, Hamburg, in 1988. It had a top speed between 436 and 450 km/h and is currently on display at the Munich Airport Center. The last version, the Transrapid 09, is designed for a cruising speed of 500 km/h (310 mph) and allows acceleration and deceleration of approximately 1 m/s2 (2.2 mph/s).


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