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Letters from England to Helgoland are known from as early as 1810. Because Helgoland was officially under Danish rule until 1814 mail was cancelled with a red “Foreign” cancel inscribed with the number “195” and year.
Helgoland (Heligoland to the English and on the stamps) is located in the North Sea about 30 miles from Schleswig-Holstein and sixty miles from the great Elbe river port of Hamburg. It was taken from the Danish and given to the British as a part of the settlement following the Napoleonic wars. While the British used it for its naval facilities and tourism local fisherman and farmers inhabited it.
From 1994 the German Post office introduced codes for mail centres with each having its own unique number within the hand stamp to cancel mail. The Briefzentren codes were used where a town cancellation was not or could not be used. In most cases the hand stamp only has the Briefzentren code and not the mail centre location.
Germany is one of the most interesting and challenging countries to collect even in its basic form without specific specialisation. If you were to just collect Germany it would keep you interested and busy for many years. Below is a high-level breakdown of the basic areas of German philately. Each area in its own right could be a specialisation if you so wish.