Each year, German Post issues a stamp or several in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance with the legend “Für die Jugend“, or “For the Youth”. This is further denoted by the five dots forming a plus symbol on the semi-postal stamps with the additional charge going to charity organizations helping young people in trouble. Additionally, the sheet selvage includes a motto which translated to English means “Help doing good with stamps!” as seen on today’s featured cover.
The 2015 youth stamps portrayed three different freshwater fish with this, the 85 + 40 Euro cent middle value (Scott #B1106), picturing the common barbel (Barbus barbus). This is a species of freshwater fish belonging to the family Cyprinidae and shares the common name ‘barbel’ with its many relatives in the genus Barbus, of which it is the type species. In Great Britain it is usually referred to simply as the barbel; similar names are used elsewhere in Europe, such as barbeau in France and flodbarb in Sweden. The name derives from the four whiskerlike structures located at the corners of the fish’s mouth, which it uses to locate food.
B. barbus is native throughout northern and eastern Europe, ranging north and east from the Pyrénées and Alps to Lithuania, Russia and the northern Black Sea basin. It is an adaptable fish which transplants well between waterways, and has become established as an introduced species in several countries including Scotland, Morocco and Italy. Although barbel are native to eastern flowing rivers in England, they have historically been translocated to western flowing rivers, such as the River Severn. Its favored habitats are the so-called barbel zones in fast-flowing rivers with gravel or stone bottoms, although it regularly occurs in slower rivers and has been successfully stocked in stillwaters.
Barbel are very abundant in some rivers, often seen in large shoals on rivers such as the Wye. Izaak Walton reported that there were once so many barbel in the Danube that they could be caught by hand, ‘eight or ten load at a time’