Per Rileysan's request on another thread, here's some info on the Deutsche Ozean-Reederei Issues.
By 1916, the German war effort was suffering under the weight of the Entente naval blockade, which had been in force since shortly after the outbreak of the war. Having been unsuccessful in its attempts to break the blockade, Germany decide to construct a class of unarmed cargo U-boats to serve as blockade runners. This class, the U-151 class, was originally to consist of seven boats, but only two, Deutschland
, were completed in accordance with the original specs. The remaining five were completed as heavily armed long-range U-boats.
were built by the Deutsche Ozean-Reederei (German Ocean Shipping Company), a subsidiary of the Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) shipping company and the Deutsche Bank, which was created explicitly for this enterprise.
made two voyages to the U.S. In the summer of 1916, she delivered a cargo of chemical dyes, medical drugs, gems, and mail to Baltimore, Maryland, then returned to Bremerhaven with a cargo of nickel, tin, and crude rubber. Deutschland
crew in Baltimore
In the fall of 1916, she delivered a cargo of gems, securities, and medicinal products to New London, Connecticut, and returned with a cargo of silver bullion. Deutschland
in port, New London, Connecticut
Before the Deutschland
could embark on a third voyage, relations between Germany and the U.S. deteriorated significantly, so she was converted to an armed U-boat, the U-155.
departed Bremerhaven in September 1916 for Norfolk, Virginia. She reportedly carried funds which were to be used to pay an American firm to build more cargo submarines for Germany. She never arrived in Virginia, and her fate remains unknown.
Two series of stamps were issued for use on items transported by the U-boats. The face values of these stamps covered the cost of postage, as well as the insurance premiums on the items.
The first series
features the inscription "Deutsche Versicherungsbank Berlin / Wertbrief-Beförderung / Deutschland-Amerika 1916" (German Insurance Bank Berlin / Insured Letter Carrier / Germany-America 1916).
In my collection
, I also have a rare used copy of the Fifty Mark Issue.
The second series
differs slightly from the first in that the stamps don't have the inscription "Wertbrief-Beförderung / Deutschland-Amerika 1916" (Insured Letter Carrier / Germany-America 1916). They also feature a watermark of oblique wavy lines.
So there you go. An interesting little side bar to history, and an interesting set of stamps, especially considering the very limited window of use.