The German Empire issued its first postage stamps on January 1, 1872. This set of eleven stamps featured the German eagle with a small shield in an embossed center. Prior to 1872, stamps had been issued by individual German states, Bavaria being the first in 1849.
Post-World War I German economic inflation significantly influenced the stamp issues of the Weimar Republic. The cost of sending a letter increased from two Marks in October 1922 to 50,000,000,000 Marks in December 1923. With hundreds of varieties produced, German specialist collectors find this to be a highly desirable period.