54 members were entertained in October by Iain Stevenson with an enthralling display entitled Thurn & Taxis. The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis is a German noble family that was a key player in the postal services in Europe in the 16th century and is well known as owners of breweries and builders of many castles.
The private postal service was granted to the family by the Holy Emperor in 1517 to deliver post to the Roman Empire. They paid a large sum of money called “The Farm” to the Holy Emperor for the privilege. They had a monopoly and delivered the post to most of Europe.
Iain showed a letter dated 1588 with a wax seal which were the norm in those days as postmarks did not materialise until 1650.
At its height Iain informed us that Turn & Taxis employed 20,000 people and had 40,000 horses.
On display were some wonderful letters with fine calligraphy from Louis VI and George II, dated 1754 (see photos above.)
Turn & Taxis were the first with postal markings with their T&T mark along with attractive markings and date stamps. They were also the first with a Registered Letter in the 1840s.
We were shown other paraphernalia such as a coach ticket, lottery ticket run by Turn & Taxis, along with postal money orders.
Eventually Turn & Taxis came to an end in 1867 after 500 tears of delivering post when the Prussians marched into Frankfurt and decided that they will take over the running of the post but in recompense the family received 3 million Thalers. Thalers in where the word dollar comes from.
The current head of the house of Thurn and Taxis is HSH Albert II 12th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, son of Johannes and his wife, Gloria. The family is one of the wealthiest in Germany. The family has resided in St. Emmeram Castle in Regensburg since 1748. The family's brewery was sold in 1996, but still produces beer under the brand of Thurn und Taxis.
A fascinating afternoon.