A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

France: Semi-Postal, Air Post, Postage Due, Offices

1939 semi-postal 90c + 35c black brown 
"Civilian facing Firing Squad"
Quick History
The Third French Republic existed from 1870 until 1940 and the conquest by Germany. France is the largest western European country, and in 1936 the population was 42,000,000. Paris is the capital.

The State is governed under the fundamental document of the French Revolution, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This Declaration derives from the philosophical thinking of the Age of Enlightenment, and shares the principles of human rights with the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The rights of man are considered universal, valid in all situations, places and times.

It is helpful to be aware of the Age of Enlightenment human rights declarations and beliefs, as much of the allegorical imagery found on the French definitives, and French stamps in general, refer back to these principles.

1936-37 semi-postal 1.50fr + 50c deep blue "Louis Pasteur"
Surtax used for relief of unemployed intellectuals
Into the Deep Blue
This is the third blog on French Stamps, and I will review the non regular, or "Back of the Book" issues. I  don't have some of the categories (Occupation stamps, Parcel Post stamps), so will say little about those. Also, there are a lot of "Offices Abroad" stamps in both the Scott catalogue and in albums. It is my experience that, unless one specializes in this area, not a lot of stamps are actually found in general classic era albums in this category.  :-)

Affordable collectability
These are the categories, and the total number of major stamp descriptions in the Scott catalogue...

Semi-Postal 1914-1940: 107 stamps; of those 43 <$5.  Affordability Index = 40%
Comment: The French Semi-Postals are fairly expensive.

Air Post 1927-1936: 17 stamps; of those 4 <$5. Affordability Index = 23%
Comment: In 1928, C3($1800) and C4($8000+) were produced when they received a 10 Franc surcharge in New York by order of the French consul general. This paid for the mail on the liner Ile de France (on the eastern voyage) to be put on a hydroplane which was then catapulted to France. Rather expensive for a one day speed-up of mail. ;-)

Postage Due 1859-1941: 47 stamps; of those 16 <$5. Affordability Index = 34%

"Recouvrements" stamps 1908-1931: 23 stamps; of those 16 <$5. Affordability Index = 70%
Comment: "Recouvrements" stamps are a form of postage due. But these were charged to the sender when the mail could not be delivered, and was returned to the sender.

Military stamps 1901-39: 9 stamps; of those 5 are <$5
Comment: Overprinted "F.M." on regular issues, and indicates "Franchise Militare" (Military Frank).

Newspaper 1868-1933: 8 stamps; of those 2 are <$5

Parcel Post 1892-1939: 159 stamps; of those 64 are  <$5. Affordability Index = 40%
Comment:  Deep Blue does not include the PP category in the main classical download, but does have the option of downloading separate pages for PP. I have no PP stamps in my collection. I wonder if the PP category was a recent addition to the Classic Scott catalogue? Clearly, these French Parcel Post stamps are not found as commonly as the Belgium Railroad/Parcel Post stamps. I hate to be critical, but these PP stamps are not very attractive to me, and they are not inexpensive. I'm not sure I will collect them.

Franchise stamp 1939: 1 stamp ($2+)
Comment: For the use of Spanish refugees in France.

Occupation stamps
Franco-Prussian war: 1870: 14 stamps; of those 0 are <$5.
Comment: 4 are <$20.

WWI: 1916: 12 stamps: of those 8 are <$5.
Comment: Clearly, I have some holes in my French collection, as I do not have any occupation stamps at the moment. ;-)

WWII:1940: 32 stamps; of those 28 are <$5.
Note: see WWI comment.

Offices in China
A large number of issues are represented in Scott. As I noted above, not many of these stamps are found in general WW collections in my experience

Offices in China: regular & postage due: 1894-1922: 137 stamps (including bolded minor numbers); of those 34 <$5.  Affordability Index = 25%

Canton:1901-1919: 83 stamps; of those 36 <$5.Affordability Index = 43%

Hoi Hao: 1901-1919: 84 stamps; of those 28 are <$5. Affordability Index = 33%.

Kwangchowan: regular & semi-postal :1906-1939: 139 stamps; of those 94 are <$5. Affordability Index = 68%

Mongtseu: 1903-1919: 68 stamps; of those 20 are <$5. Affordability Index = 29%

Pakhoi:1903-1919: 69 stamps; of those 27 are <$5. Affordability Index = 39%.

Tchongking: 1903-1919: 67 stamps; of those 20 are <$5. Affordability Index = 30%

Yunnan Fou:1903-1919: 66 stamps; of those 18 are <$5. Affordability Index = 27%

Total China: 713 stamps; of those 277 are <$5. Affordability Index = 39%.
Comment: A very large group of stamps; a representative collection might suffice.

Offices in Crete: 1902-1903: 20 stamps; of those 10 are <$5.Affordability Index = 50%.

Offices in Egypt
Alexandria: regular, semi-postal & postage due: 1899-1930: 104 stamps; of those 60 are <$5.  Affordability Index = 58%.

Port Said: regular, semi-postal and postage due: 1899-1930: 104 stamps; of those 38 are <$5. Affordability Index = 37%.

Total Egypt: 208 stamps; of those 98 are <$5. Affordability Index = 47%.
Comment: Less expensive than China

Offices in Turkey (Levant); also Cavalle, Dedeagh, Port Lagos, Vathy
1885-1923: 103 stamps; of those 30 are <$5. Affordability Index = 29%.

Offices in Zanzibar: regular & postage due: 1894-1904: 67 stamps; of those 0 are <$5.
Comment: 11 stamps are <$10- a more realistic "affordability" mark as these are ~19th century era stamps.

Total Offices abroad: 1111 stamps; of those 415 are <$5. Affordability Index = 37%.

Total Back of the Book: 1540 stamps; of those 602 are <$5. Affordability Index = 39%.
Comment: Wow! A lot of BOB stamps; no wonder specialization is attractive. ;-)

Grand Total for France
1849-1900: 108 stamps; of those 49 are <$20.
1900-1940: 284 stamps; of those 243 are <$5.
Total BOB: 1540 stamps; of those 602 are <$5.
Total: 1932 stamps; of those 894 are "affordable".
Affordability Index = 47%
Comment: About half of French stamps are reasonable in price. Now, just how will I obtain them? Ah, there's the rub.  :-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1939 semi-postal 90c + 10c bright red violet
Honoré de Balzac
Although France was late with the commemoratives, since 1914, they have had a reasonable output of semi-postal stamps to raise funds for various causes. One of the more interesting causes, with three issues, is a surtax for unemployed intellectuals. One of the stamps is illustrated above, and the Pasteur semi-postal illustrated elsewhere in the blog is from another issue. I can't imagine the U.S. having a stamp issue for a cause like that. ;-) The French take their intellectuals, artists, and scientists seriously.

1882-92 1c black postage due & 1909 30c bister "recouvrements" stamp
The left stamp is a postage due, not too out of the ordinary. But the right stamp is a "recouvrements" stamp. This stamp was intended to recover funds from the sender if the letter or parcel was returned to the sender if it couldn't be delivered or was refused. Perhaps other countries do this, but France is the first for the classic countries and this blog.

1901 15c orange overprinted "F.M."
Military stamp: Franchise Militare
I haven't seen this category before, but France has issued overprinted stamps to be used by the French military from 1901-39. Interesting.

Offices in China
Kwangchowan: 1923 1/5c blue & black with red overprint
Kwangchowan: 1927 1/2c yellow with black overprint
Yunnan Fou: 1908 4c blue & black with red overprint
The Offices in China issues (713! stamps) were produced between 1894-1922 by France for seven locations in China to receive and send overseas mail. The stamps of Indo-China were generally overprinted or surcharged for this use. Not found in abundance in most general collections, one will need to pursue and acquire these fascinating stamps.

Offices in Crete
1902-03 3c red orange "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity"
During the period (1902-03) when Crete was autonomous, France, Austria, Italy, and Britain maintained their own post offices. France issued 20 stamps.

Offices in Egypt
1902-13 Alexandria 4c yellow brown
1902-03 Port Said 2c violet brown 
Alexandria and Port Said had French post offices from 1899-1929. About equally divided, Alexandria and Port Said together had 208 stamps.

Offices in Turkey (Levant)
1886 1pi on 25c black, rose surcharged in red
1903 1pi on 25c blue surcharged in black
France and other countries has post offices in the Turkish Empire, as a result of various treaties.  France had Offices in Turkey (Levant) stamps; also specific Cavalle, Dedeagh, Port Lagos, and Vathy location stamps. From 1885-1923, 103 stamps were issued.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue of course has all the major number Scott spaces-1540 for BOB! No surprises, although the parcel post stamps need to be separately downloaded. In contrast, Big Blue provides 453 spaces for the BOB stamps.

1936 air post 1.50fr dark ultramarine
"Airplane & Galleon"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on thirteen pages, has three pages and 67 stamp spaces for semi-postals (107 in Scott), one page and 10 spaces for air post (17 in Scott),  and on one page- 20 spaces for postage due and "recouvrements" stamps (70 in Scott), 3 spaces for military stamps, 2 spaces for newspaper stamps, and 8 spaces for the 1916 occupation stamps.
Total spaces for semi-postal through occupation stamps: 110 stamp spaces.
Total coverage for semi-postal through occupation stamps (269 in Scott): 41%

There are no spaces for parcel post.

Offices abroad
Offices in China: five pages and 213 stamp spaces.
Includes coverage for offices in China, Canton, Hoi Hao, Kwangchowan, Mongtseu, Packhoi, Tong King, and Yunnan Foo.

Offices in Crete: 12 stamp spaces

Offices in Egypt: two pages and 73 stamp spaces
Includes coverage of Alexandria and Port Said.

Offices in Zanzibar: 7 stamp spaces.

Offices in the Turkish Empire: one page and 38 stamp spaces.
Includes coverage of Levant, Cavalle, Dedeagh, Port Lagos , and Vathy.

Total coverage of Offices Abroad: 343 stamp spaces (Scott 1111): 31%

Note: Big Blue has spaces for "Offices in Morocco", but I will cover those stamps in a separate blog for two reasons.
1) True, there are "French offices in Morocco" stamp issues from 1891-1917, but then Morocco became a French Protectorate 1914-1942 with many stamp issues.
2) Scott has Morocco listed under its own title as "French Morocco".

Overall coverage by Big Blue
1849-1900  :65 spaces (108 in Scott)
1900-1940: 234 spaces ( 284 in Scott)
Back of the Book: 453 spaces (1540 in Scott)
Grand Total for Big Blue: 752 spaces (1932 in Scott)
Total coverage by Big Blue: 39%.

As far as expensive entries, there are six semi-postals that cross the $35 threshold for the "Most Expensive Stamp" list. There are three horizontal blank spaces in the early 1918-28 section of the semi-postals.  This yielded,at the least expensive, B7 ($125), B8 ($180), and B27 ($150)! Wow! I also note that the 1918 B11 semi-postal "Hospital Ship and Field Hospital" stamp @ $60 has a space.

Also I noted a quite different layout for the earlier issues in the '41/'47 editions compared to the '69 edition. However, I didn't do further investigation.

With 752 spaces (343 for China offices abroad), Big Blue provides good coverage of France.

Simple Checklist

Postage Due




Military stamps

Newspaper Stamps


Occupation Stamps

Next Page



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Next Page


Next Page

Air Post
C5,C6a or C6,




Next Page

Offices in China








Postage Due



Next Page





Hoi Hao



Next Page







Next Page





Tong King




Next Page

Yunnan Fou




Offices in Crete

Next Page

Offices in Egypt





77,81,82,  Semi-postal

Postage Due


Next page

Port Said






Offices in Zanzibar


Next Page

Offices in the Turkish Empire







Port Lagos


A) ( ) around a number indicates a suggested choice for a blank space.

B) Caution on "Offices in Zanzibar" section: possible confusion...

Offices in Zanzibar Scott 1, 18, 19
The overprint is different for the descriptive spaces 
Watch out for the Scott 1,18,19 spaces.  The Scott 1 (with illustration cut) shows an overprint "1/2 ANNA". The Scott 18 and 19 actually have an overprint that adds "ZANZIBAR".

C) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold) include:

B5 15c + 10c gray green "Woman Plowing" $20+
B11 15c + 5c slate & red "Hospital Ship and Field Hospital" $60
(B7) 35c + 25c slate & violet "Trench of Bayonets" $125
(B8) 50c + 50c  pale brown & dark brown "Lion of Belfort" $180
(B27) 1.50fr + 8.50fr dull blue "Industry and Agriculture" $150
B16 25c + 5c slate & violet "Woman Plowing" $10+
(B21) 50c + 10c olive brown & dark brown "Lion of Belfort" $10+
(B17) 50c + 10c pale brown & dark brown "Lion of Belfort "$10+
(B18) 1fr + 25c cl + mar "La Marseillaise" $37+

B53 1.50fr + 50c deep ultramarine "Louis Pasteur" $20

B43 50c + 2fer dull red "Symbolic of Music" $45

B45 75c + 50c violet "Statue of Liberty" $10

B70 1.75fr + 75c deep blue "Palace of Versailles"  $10+
B66 30c blue green "Winged Victory of Samothrace" $40
B67 55c red "Winged Victory of Samothrace" $40
B73 55c + 45c vermilion "Monument" $10+
B74 65c + 35c ultramarine "Reims Cathedral" $10+
B76 1.75fr + 50c deep ultramarine "Curie" $10+

B80 90c + 35c black brown "Civilian Facing Firing Squad" $10+
B83 90c + 35c turquoise blue ""Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone" $20
B89 2.25fr + 25c bright ultramarine "Clause Bernard" $10+
B93 70c + 30c brown violet "Statue of Widow and Children" $10+

Air Post 1936
C13 3.50fr orange brown "Plane over Paris" $20+

Offices in China
21 20c red/green  $10+

40 25c blue & black $10+

Yunnan Fou
7 20c red/green $10+

Offices in Crete
11 40c red & pale blue $10+
(12) 50c bister brown & lavender $10+

Offices in Zanzibar
(41) 1 1/2a on 15c pale red $10+
(42) 2a on 20c brown violet $10+

Offices in the Turkish Empire
5 4pi on 1fr bronze green $10+

4 15c blue $20+

5 1pi on 25c black/rose $30+

Port Lagos
1 5c green/greenish $30

1918 semi-postal  B11 15c + 5c slate & red 
"Hospital Ship and Field Hospital"
Out of the Blue
It has been a bit of a marathon putting these three blogs together to cover France. But I now have a better understanding of these well designed issues. :-)

Any thoughts? Would like to hear from you!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

France 1900-1940

1935 1.50fr deep rose "Cardinal Richelieu"
Tercentenary of founding of the French Academy
Quick History
The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was marked by the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris and the construction of the Eiffel tower, which, although not intended to remain, has become France's iconic landmark.

Construction of the Eiffel tower in Paris 1888
This Belle Époque was a  period  known for the cabaret, the cinema, Impressionism and Art Nouveau. 

Beginning in 1900,  French stamps expressed universal human egalitarian ideals, represented by the Blanc issue (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), the Mouchon issue (The Rights of Man), and the Merson issue (Liberty and Peace). These designs on 24 stamps persisted until 1929.

The Sower (La Semeuse), throwing the seeds at sunrise over the land, representing liberty, became the iconic philatelic symbol of the third French Republic for much of the early 20th century. The issue, some 50 stamps, began in 1903 and lasted until 1938. 

During this stamp period, of course, WWI was fought with the Western Front largely in France. The fatalities for the French were 1.4 million.

After WWI, the Treaty of Versailles had the French occupy the German industrial Saar region. The German African colonies were divided between France and Britain. Alsace-Lorraine ( lost following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870) was returned. All of these historical changes of territory should be familiar to world wide stamp collectors.

During the 1930's with Hitler's rise to power in Germany, France had little appetite for confrontation. France tried to guarantee the peace, following the policy (along with Britain), of appeasement. Liaisons were strengthened. If one pays particular attention, one will note stamp issues in the late 1930's that hail the bond between France and the United States, and France and Britain.

But finally, war was declared by France and Britain after Germany's invasion of Poland. But the Blitzkreig conquered Poland after a few weeks, and the attention fell on France. With ten million civilians fleeing south and west, France was surrendered to Nazi Germany on June 24, 1940. Then, Nazi Germany occupied three fifths of France with the Vichy government in charge of the rest.

We will end the story there.

1937 1.50fr dark blue "Skiing"
International Ski Meet at Chamonix-Mont Blanc
Into the Deep Blue
This blog will review the regular French stamp issues between 1900-1940. The next blog will discuss the Semi-Postals, Air Post, Postage Due, and French Offices Overseas issues.

Affordable collectability
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1900-1940 for regular issues, 284 major stamp descriptions.
1900-1940: 243 stamps: <$5 ; of those 149 are <$1.
Therefore, total "inexpensive" stamps: 243; "Cheap" stamps are 149
Affordability Index = 85%.  "Cheap" Index= 52%.

Naturally, since we are only looking at the 20th century, and France has a lot of inexpensive definitive stamps, the affordability values look quite good.

I was struck, though, by how relatively expensive ($1+-$5) the 1930+ commemorative stamps were, even in used condition. Compare that to the minimum value ( 20 cents) many 1930 U.S. commemorative have in the catalogue. 

As I alluded, France has many definitive stamps, which generally are not very expensive. France was also late in the game issuing commemorative stamps: the 1924 issue for the Olympic Games in Paris being the first. 

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1900-29 1c gray "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Blanc issue
Allegory....an image that contains a symbolic meaning. The French definitives are rich with ideas and meaning in an allegorical sense. No portraits of Kings or Queens for them.

The Blanc issue, as it is known, is a seven stamp production during the years 1900-29.

1900-29 15c orange "The Rights of Man"
1902 15c pale red (redesigned)
Mouchon issue
This 10 stamp issue ( 5 redesigned in 1902) continues the theme of, well, the Rights of Man. ;-)

1927 3fr bright violet & rose "Liberty and peace"
Merson issue
The Merson issue, a 12 stamp production from 1900-29, and representing the higher denominations, was printed in two colors as illustrated above.

The three proceeding issues ( Blanc, Mouchon, Merson) are presented in straightforward fashion by Scott. But Maury, over nine pages, breaks them down into many subtypes and variations. A specialists delight.

1926 75c rose lilac "Sower"
The "lined sowers" were produced  between 1903-1938
In 1903, a new seventeen stamp definitive series was initiated. These became known as the 'lined sowers", and were produced over a period of 35 years. Notice the early sunrise as the seeds of liberty are sown. What an absolutely captivating image.

1906 10c red "Sower"
The only stamp that has this specific illustration
In 1906, this 10c red stamp was issued with a unique image. None of the other 49 Sower stamps have it.
Good- you got it. ;-)

1907 5c green "Sower"
This design is known as the "cameo sowers", issued 1906-37
The "cameo sowers" became the other major design. Thirty two stamps were issued in this series.

1933  Scott 156 1c olive bistre & 1936 Scott 156a 1c bistre brown
Scott recognizes some color shades, and this is one of them. As one would expect, Maury has many more. This might be a good time to face a truth: Scott only scratches the surface with the Sower definitives. Maury has eleven pages for the sowers, and there are many engraving subtleties to be found.

1907 10c red type II & 1906 10c red type I
Note the "POSTES" inscription and numerals are thinner in type I
Scott does recognize two types of the 10c red, 10c green, and 35c violet cameo sowers. As noted above, the type I has a thinner "postes" inscription and numerals.

1926 35c violet type II & 1906 35c violet type I
Again the "postes" inscription and numerals are thinner in type I. Note the significant different shades of these stamps!

Page from Deep Blue of the Cameo Sowers
Finally, here is a view of the Cameo Sower issue. Impressive, No?

1923-26 "Louis Pasteur"
The Sower series continued to 1937, but there was also a 12 stamp definitive series featuring the great French biologist  Louis Pasteur. So some reason, I'm not as taken with this series.  Perhaps because I like the allegorical designs of the other definitives better.

1931 Scott 248 3fr bluish slate "Reims Cathedral"
Die IV
The 1929-32 issue consisting of the 3fr "Reims Cathedral" (4 dies), 5fr "Mont Saint Michel" (2 dies), 10fr "Port of La Rochelle" (3 dies), and 20fr "Pont du Gard, Nimes" (3 dies) all were issued with multiple Die variations. Scott details the differences. The"second story" leftmost turret (facing the front) has a "window" with three vertical lines-two heavy longer lines on other side of a thinner shorter line. Enlarge the stamp and find the area. That defines Die IV. The other three dies all only have two lines for the window, missing the thinner shorter line.

1932-39 90c dark red "Peace with Olive branch"
A new definitive series was begun in 1932, although "the sower" series continued. Note the "Peace with Olive branch" motif. I can't help but think this was part of the peace at (almost) any price -or appeasement strategy- attempted by France-and Britain- with their belligerent German neighbor.

1932-39 "Peace with Olive branch" issue
This really is a lovely and poignant series. Clearly, though, the sentiment and offer was not not heeded, as France soon was plunged into war.

1939 2c slate green "Mercury"
1938-42 definitives
Then, on the eve of WWII, France produced the "Mercury" definitives, an image from roman mythology. Outstanding. 

1938-42 "Mercury"
This seventeen stamp issue, produced on the cusp of WWII, demonstrates that the French engravers were still at a superb level. Wow! :-)

1939 90c black brown "Porte Chaussee, Verdun"
I mentioned earlier that the French commemoratives did not really begin until the 1924 Paris Olympic games. But the French made up for the late start with well designed and themed commemorative issues through the rest of this time period. Take a close look at the above issue, as well as the other commemorative illustrations in this blog, and see if you don't agree. :-)

Deep Blue
Naturally, Deep Blue provides a space for all the major Scott stamp numbers. Essentially, Deep Blue follows the Scott format almost exactly, so quite easy to put the stamps into the album.

Deep Blue does break out the minor number thin numerals variety ( 10c and 35c ) Cameo Sower stamps. 
Also, Deep Blue has the option of adding pages (stamp spaces) for the gray poor quality paper varieties issued from 1916-20 during WWI.  These are known as G.C. (Grande Consommation) varieties, and given minor numbers in Scott.

Since Scott now has the Parcel Post issues listed, Deep Blue has the option of adding those pages.

Clearly, if one was following carefully the French Maury catalogue  for the Sower issues, Deep Blue (as it follows Scott) would have a truncated layout. The difference in engraving details of this long lived issue as presented by Maury is stunning.  ;-)

1939 2.25fr Prussian blue "Self-portrait"
Paul Cézanne, painter
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 6 1/2 pages, has 234 stamp spaces for the 1900-1940 regular issues. Coverage is 82%.

More specifically, reviewing the lined and cameo sower definitive stamps of 1903-38, there are 47 spaces.
The issue consists of 50 stamp descriptions. Coverage is 94%. Essentially Scott 162b,163a, and 175b, the thin numeral varieties of the 10 red, 10c green and the 35c violet are not included.

The good news is Big Blue has nice coverage. But not including a space for the thin numerals also demonstrates Big Blue's limits.

Simple Checklist


Next Page





161,162 or 162b, 163 or 163a, 164,165,166,167,168,
169,170,171,172,173,174,175 or 175b, 176,

Next Page







251 or 251A or 252

Next Page


247 or 247A or 247B or 248, 255

249 or 250, 253 or 254 or 254A,




Next Page



296,297,299,300 or 300a or 300b


Next Page


324,325,326 or 326a, 330 or 331,

Next Page



A) Expensive stamps ($10 Threshold) include:

Scott 126 2fr gray violet & yellow "Liberty and Peace" $75
Scott 131 10fr green & red "Liberty and Peace" $10+

Scott 135 20c brown violet "Rights of Man" $10+
Scott 137 30c lilac "Rights of Man" $10+

Scott 183 1.40fr cerise "The Sower" $20+

294 1.50fr ultramarine "Dove and olive Branch" $10+

Scott 349 1.75fr dark ultramarine "Soccer players" $10+

1936 1.50 ultramarine "Allegory of Exposition"
1937 Paris Exposition
Out of the Blue
The French- their stamp production is done...

...with élan

Merry Christmas!


Image appear to be in the public domain.

If you enjoyed this blog, I would like to hear from you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

France 1849-1900

1849 20 centimes black on yellowish "Ceres"
Part of the first issue
Note the dots on the chin and mandible area?
Quick History
The French stamps of the 19th century, and French history are quite intertwined.

Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, was elected President in 1848. And so began the (short lived) era of the French Second Republic.

The Second Republic printed the first French stamps in 1849-50: an imperforate seven stamp series featuring the  effigy of Ceres, goddess of growing plants in Roman mythology. She wore a garland of wheat and a cluster of grapes in her hair. The head of Ceres, appropriate for a new republic, had been also associated with liberty.

But after the coup in December,1851, Prince President Louis Napoléon Bonaparte had his effigy on French stamps. Two stamps with the likeness of President Louis Napoléon were issued in 1852. Then, as Emperor Napoleon III, his effigy appeared progressively on stamps issued throughout the Second French Empire era.
Emperor Napoleon III
An imperforate ten stamp 1853-60 series was printed with his likeness; then a perforated six stamp series during 1862-71. 

In 1863, a laurel wreath, indicating victory in a war with Austria, was added to the Emperor's head.

But alas, his Empire was abolished during the Franco-Prussian War by the Republicans on September 4, 1870. His effigy was clearly no longer desired on French stamps: But what to do?

The Ceres design was brought back. The "Bordeaux Issue", from Bordeaux, where the provisional government fled, was authorized from November 5, 1870 to March 4, 1871 to supply the post offices of the non occupied (by German forces) countryside. These stamps were printed imperforate, and by lithography, not typography, as the first Ceres issue. 

After the war, The Third Republic continued with an eight stamp perforated Ceres design during 1870-73, and a four stamp larger numerals issue during 1872-75.

In July, 1875, the printing of postage stamps was given to the Banque de France (before, Anatole Hulot has supervised the printing of stamps). A new design was chosen also.

In 1876, the Commerce and Peace allegory design by Jules-Auguste Sage was issued. These "Type Sage" issues were produced until 1900.

1854 5 centimes green on greenish "Emperor Napoleon III"
Die I: Thick curl line on head below the "R" of EMPIRE
Prominent long thick curl line in front of ear
Into the Deep Blue

Affordable collectability
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1849-1900, 108 major stamp descriptions.
1849-75 (Ceres and Napoleon III issues) : 63 stamps total: <$100 - 42 stamps; Of those 23 are <$20; Of those 6 are <$5.
1876-1900 ("Sage" issues): 55 stamps total: <$20 - 26 stamps; Of those 19 are <$5.
Total "inexpensive" stamps: 49
Affordability Index = 45%.

One would need to spend up to $20 per stamp (23 stamps) for the Ceres and Napoleon issues, and up to $5 per stamp (19 stamps) for the "Sage" issues for a "representative" collection.  Even then, the first series "Ceres" (pun intended!), and the "Bordeaux" stamps would not be included.

A more realistic $100 limit per stamp is probably necessary to fill out these classical issues. Actually, if one compares these valuations to early U.S., they do not look so bad. ;-)

1849-50 20c black on yellowish & 25c light blue on bluish
 First "Ceres" issue: Note the "dots" rather than "lines" along the chin and mandible
A closer look at the stamps and issues
The French 1849-1900 stamp issues are "classic" in every sense. And as one would expect, they present identification challenges, as well as many variations.Therefore, the blog will focus only on these stamp issues.

I will attempt to illustrate any identification and variation differences that the Scott Classic Specialized catalogue highlights for these stamps. But frankly, that is just the tip of the iceberg. ;-) One needs a more highly specialized "French" catalogue if one really would like to do justice to these fascinating issues. And I have one. ;-)

The "Maury" (Ceres & Dallay) catalogue: indispensable
I acquired the "Maury" catalogue (two volumes ~$40), which illustrates nicely every variation in stamp design: And there are a lot of them! And just as I found with the SG Commonwealth catalogue, there are quite a few more color variations noted here.
But I only have so much time and energy, and as I am not specializing in these fine French stamps, I will only highlight here the major differences (as outlined in the Scott) with a sometimes passing reference to the Maury. For the worldwide classic collector, that is a good start. :-)

1849 25c light blue on bluish & 1870-71 30c brown on yellowish "Ceres"
Imperf issues: First issue & "Bordeaux" issue
Ceres 1849-50 issue
The imperforated seven stamp 1849-50 first issue are quite iconic in design. Several of these first issues can be had for ~$40 CV. Can they be confused with other issues? Well, one might find a perforated Ceres issue trimmed to look like an imperforated specimen. A more anxious concern is differentiating the French Colony stamps of the era. That will have to wait until we reach "French Colonies stamp" blog.
A less trivial concern is to differentiate the imperforated 1870-71 "Bordeaux" issue from the first issue. The largest difference is the first issue was typographed, while the "Bordeaux" issue was lithographed. The "Bordeaux" issue, as is the first issue, is  fairly expensive.
The easiest "field mark" is the "Bordeaux" stamps have lines drawn by the chin and mandible, while the first issue has "dots". Even with the creased heavily cancelled 30c brown "Bordeaux" illustrated above, that should be apparent. Click on the image to enlarge and compare the two stamps.

1854 80c lake on yellowish "Emperor Napoleon III"
Die I: Thick curl line on head below the "R" of EMPIRE
Prominent long thick curl line in front of ear
1853-60 Imperforate "Emperor Napoleon III" issue
The effigy of Napoleon's nephew is enshrined in the first issue of the Second Empire era. Two major dies are found: Die I & Die II. These die differences are also found in the subsequent 1862-71 perforated issue. Fairly obvious to tell.

1854 5c green on greenish & 1860 20c blue on bluish ""Napoleon III"
Die I vs Die II 
Enlarge the above image and compare/contrast. The 5c green has Die I: a thick curl line on the head below the "R" of EMPIRE, and a prominent long thick curl line in front of ear. Die II on the 20c blue shows two "thinner" lines on the head, and equal (thinner) curl lines in front of the ear.

A closeup....
Die I: Note the thick curly line on top of the head. Then note the prominent thick curly hair line (made of two lines distally that are joined into one proximally) in front of the ear- just in front of the cancellation blotch in front of the ear.

Die II: Note the "thick head line" of Die I is now two (close) thinner lines on top of the head. Note the  "thick curly hair line" in front of the ear in Die I is now thinner -more or less equal curly hair lines in front of the ear.
You probably have it, but there will be another example in the next section.

1862-71 perforated 1c olive green on pale blue "Napoleon III": Die II
See the "smoke" from of his mouth? Maury mentions plate flaws similar to this for the 1c "Laurel" issue stamp known as the "a la cigarette" flaw.
The 1862-71 six stamp issue was the first perforated issue for France. It is quite similar to the preceding imperforate issue, including Die I and Die II varieties.

1862-71 1c olive green on pale blue & 80c rose on pinkish "Napoleon III"
Die II vs Die I
One will notice the "head line" on the 1c olive green really consists of two lines (Die II); while Die I "head line" is thicker. The lines in front of the ear in Die II are thinner, while Die I has a more prominent thicker line.

A close up....


Hopefully, the tutorial (Die I vs Die II) was helpful. :-)

For the next 1863-70 issue, Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte had  a laurel added to his head.

1862-71 80c rose on pinkish & 1867 30c brown on yellowish "Napoleon III"
Note a laurel has been added on the 30c brown

1870 1c bronze green on pale blue "Napoleon III"
The nine stamp "laurel" issue also had a different frame design with larger numerals for the 1c, 2, and 4c as illustrated above.

1863-70 4c gray & 2c red brown on yellowish "Napoleon III"
Maury notes a Type I or Type II for the 2c & 4c
What do you get with a specialized catalogue? More detail. Here Maury notes the drawn horizontal lines in the middle lower neck are wedge or pyramid shape in Type I, while not as wide in Type II. The difference in valuation is 10-15 Euros.

1867 10c bister on yellowish &  20c blue on bluish "Napoleon III"
Maury notes Type I/II for the 10c/20c; while Scott only acknowledges the 20c
Note the size of the dot on either side of the "POSTES" on the lower horizontal tablet? The small dots on the 10c are type I, while the larger dots on the 20c are type II. Maury lists the 10c and 20c as having either type I or II, and illustrates the difference. Scott only gives a written description for the 20c.

1849-50 First issue 25c light blue on bluish 
1870-71 Bordeaux issue 30c brown on yellowish
The 1870-71 Bordeaux issue
The Bordeaux issue is a specialists delight. This eleven stamp imperforate issue was put out under duress as the provisional government had fled to Bordeaux during the Franco-Prussian war and the Siege of Paris. The stamps were printed with 15 stamp image lithography plates, rather than typography as the first issue. Each stamp ended up unique, and Maury has 16 pages devoted to the issue. The stamps vary in Scott CV from $18 to $250.  
As stated earlier...
The easiest "field mark" is the "Bordeaux" stamps have lines drawn by the chin and mandible, while the first issue has "dots". Even with the creased heavily cancelled 30c brown "Bordeaux" illustrated above, that should be apparent. Click on the image to enlarge and compare the two stamps.

1870 2c red brown on yellowish "Ceres"
The "Ceres" design is back in business with the Third Republic
1870-73 perforated Ceres issue
The Third Republic returned to the "Ceres" design; first with the 1870-71 "Bordeaux" imperfs, now with a 10 stamp perforated variety. Note again the drawn heavy horizontal lines over the chin and mandible, while the 1849-50 design had "dots" in this area.

1870-73 20c dull blue on bluish "Ceres"
The exception: The 20c has "dots" on the neck
The 20c, though, does show "dots" on the neck and mandible like the 1849-50 issue, but of course is perforated! ;-)

1870-73 25c blue on bluish "Ceres"
Comes in three types:Here Type I & Type III
The 25c has three types; mentioned in Scott, but illustrated in Maury. Look at the flower like "X" corner ornaments (fleurons), specifically the right upper ornament. If one enlarges the image, one can see they differ (slightly). The two upper diagonal lines are more broken up in Type III.

1870-73 40c orange on yellowish "Ceres"
Found in two types: The shape of the "4" here is type I
The 40c orange has two shapes of the "4" numeral. Illustrated above is type I. Type II is a more acute angle "4", and is illustrated in the Classic Scott near the 1849-50 "Ceres" issue, which also has these two types for the 40c.

1872-75 80c rose on pinkish "Ceres"
Part of "Larger Numerals" four stamp series
1872-75 "Larger Numerals" issue
The last "Ceres" issue consisted of four stamps (10c,15c,40c,80c) with larger numerals. That should be quite apparent with a glance.

This concludes the "Ceres" and "Napoleon" stamp series close-ups: I certainly learned a lot. :-)

1876-78 75c carmine on rose "Peace and Commerce"
A new design: "Type Sage"
Note the "N" under the "B"? : Type I
In 1876, the Commerce and Peace allegory design by Jules-Auguste Sage was issued. These "Type Sage" issues were produced until 1900. They are famous (or infamous?) for being issued in two types.

Type I: The "N" of "INV" is under the "B" of "REPUBLIQUE"
Type II: The "N" of "INV" is under the "U" of "REPUBLIQUE"

Scott only presents this "major" difference to consider. (Thank goodness you might be saying. ;-)  )  But Maury devotes 18 pages to this stamp series, and there are many subtleties in the stamp drawings for almost every denomination with myriad listed "types" , and consequently different catalogue valuations. If I was specializing in France, all the types listed by Maury would be "fun" to find. In fact, I'm tempted to do it anyway. ;-)

1876-78 10c green on greenish & 20c red brown on straw "Type Sage"
If you enlarge the image, both should be type I
The 10c Type I is valued at $20+; while the Type II is $240+!
1876-78 "Peace and Commerce" issues
A Thirteen stamp Type I issue was produced in 1876-78, while an eight stamp Type II series was issued in 1876-77.  The 2c, 5c, 10c, 15c, 25c,30c,75c, and 1fr come in both types. Either type might be valued more for a given denomination.

1877 1fr bronze green on straw  "Type Sage"
Quite clearly a Type II

1876-77 25c ultramarine on bluish & 25c blue on bluish
Two shades and type II
Scott has some shades listed, including this 25c ultramarine (Scott 81) and 25c blue (Scott 81a). But Maury has many shades listed, usually by year of issue when that shade was found.

1876-78 25c ultramarine on bluish & 1876-77 15c gray lilac on grayish
Type I vs Type II
Here is an example where the Type II printing is not clear; but one should be able to tell the stamp is still a type II as the printing stops before reaching the "B".

1877-80 1c black on lilac black & 35c black on yellow 
Type II
New colors and new denominations for this 1877-80 eleven stamp issue. All the stamps in this issue are type II. There is one stamp similarity (But different types). The 40c red on straw color is also found in the 1876-78 Type I issue.

1879-90 25c yellow on straw & 1890 50c rose on rose
Type II
The 1879-90 issues (six stamps) again had different colors and a different denomination (3c gray). All Type II's.

1892 15c blue (Type II) on quadrilled paper
Interesting 1892 stamp issue: a 15c blue on quadrilled paper. Should be obvious.

1876-77 type II 5c green on greenish
1898-1900 type II 5c yellow green on ordinary paper
1898-1900 type I 5c yellow green on ordinary paper
In 1898, a 5c yellow green on ordinary paper was produced: This can be found in both type II and type I. For contrast, I include in the above illustration a 5c green on greenish stamp. Now, for instructive purposes, I have chosen here the extremes among my collection of the "green on greenish" and "yellow green" shades. Most stamps are not quite so dramatic/obvious with their shades. ;-)

Finally, France produced at the end of the "Sage" issues, some more type I stamps: The 5c (illustrated above), a 10c black/lavender, a 50c carmine/rose, and a 2fr brown/azure; all issued 1898-1900. Except for the 2fr, the rest of these stamps all have type II counterparts. A word to the wise. ;-)

Deep Blue
Deep Blue of course presents all the Scott major number stamps with their own space for the "Ceres", "Napoleon" and "Sage" issues. But Deep Blue also includes a generous number of minor number color shades with their own space.

Deep Blue page for the 1853-60 imperforate "Napoleon III" issues
Note the additional spaces for minor number color shades

Deep Blue layout for the 1870-73 and the 1872-75 "Ceres" issues
Again, note the additional stamp spaces for shades.
So is the additional space a good thing? IMHO, yes.  Naturally, even if one completes the major number stamp series, there will be "holes" to fill with shades. And Deep Blue does not provide a space for all the minor shades: quick estimate ~ 70 %. Now if one is deep into shades a la the Maury catalogue, Deep Blue's layout will not be enough. Bottom line: I think Deep Blue strikes a nice compromise while following the Scott catalogue.
1898-1900 10c black on lavender Type I
Part of the last "Sage" issue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 1 1/2 pages for the "Ceres", "Napoleon", and "Sage" issues, has 65 stamp spaces. There are 108 major numbers for these issues in the Scott catalogue. Coverage is 60%. Remember, I found 42  "inexpensive" stamps (<$20 for "Ceres" and "Napoleon"; <$5 for "Sage"). So the coverage appears to be quite good for these classical issues. Let's look more closely...

The 1849-50 "Ceres" issue is given four spaces: a 20c($45), a 25c($40), and two blank spaces. Those two blank spaces would be expensive to fill; the cheapest would be a 10c ($275), and a 40c ($475).
The 1853-60 Imperf "Napoleon" have the 80c lake ($80+) and the 80c rose ($45+). The 1862 perforated "Napoleon"  1c olive green is $40. The 1863-70 "laurel" Napoleon issue has the 4c gray ($50+).

The 1876 "Sage" stamp spaces has the 1c green on greenish ($70+). The 1877-78 has the 5fr "lilac on lavender" ($70+). BTW, that color does not exactly match any of the color choices in today's Scott. The 1879-92 has the 75c deep violet on orange ($30+).

So the good news is Big Blue has fairly deep coverage. The bad news is there are some expensive stamp spaces to fill. ;-)

Simple Checklist

3,6 or 6a, (1),(7)






Next Page

64, 65 or 77, 66 or 78, 68 or 79, 69 or 80, 70,

72 or 81, 73, 75 or 83, 76 or 84,


90,91,92,93,94,74 or 80 or 95, 96,

97, 98a or 98, 99,100,101,102,

104 or 105, 108,

A) * 1849-1850 : Remember the Scott 1, 6a, and 7 are similar designs and colors to French Colony Imperforate stamps.

B) ( ) around a number is a suggested choice for a blank space.

C) There are sixteen French 1849-1900 stamps that cross the threshold of “Most Expensive Stamps”($35+). They are listed below, as well as any that cross the $10 threshold. I  will elaborate on the French ‘Most expensive stamps” when I post an update for the “Most expensive stamps” blog.

1849-50 "Ceres" Imperforate

Scott 3 20c black/yellowish $45
Scott 6 25c light blue/bluish $40
(Scott 1) 10c bister/yellowish $275
(Scott 7) 40c orange/yellowish Type I $475

1853-60 "Emperor Napoleon III" Imperforate
Scott 12 1c olive green/pale blue $80
Scott 18 40c orange/yellowish Type I $10+
Scott 19 80c lake/yellowish Type I $82+
Scott 20 80c rose/pinkish Type I $47+

1862 "Emperor Napoleon III" Perforated
Scott 22 1c olive green/pale blue Type II $40
Scott 23 5c yellow green/greenish Type I $20
Scott 28 80c rose/pinkish Type I $37+

1863-70 "Emperor Napoleon III with Laurel" Perforated
Scott 29 1c bronze green/pale blue $20
Scott 30 2c red brown/yellowish $20+
Scott 314c gray  $52+
Scott 34 30c brown/yellowish $10+
Scott 35 40c pale orange/yellowish $10
Scott 36 80c rose/pinkish $20+

1870-73 "Ceres" Perforated
Scott 50 1c olive green/pale blue $10+
Scott 51 2c red brown/yellowish $10+
Scott 55 10c bister/rose $10+

1872-75 "Ceres" Perforated Larger Numerals
Scott 60 10c bister/rose $10+
Scott 63 80c rose/pinkish $10+

1876 Peace and Commerce (Sage) 
Scott 64 1c green/greenish Type I $70
Scott 77 2c green/greenish Type II $10+
Scott 68 10c green/greenish Type I $20+
Scott 70 20c red brown/straw Type I $10+
Scott 75 75c carmine/rose Type I $10+

1877-78  Peace and Commerce (Sage) 
Scott 89 3c yellow/straw Type II $42+
Scott 93 25c black/red Type II $20+
Scott 94 35c black/yellow Type II $35
Scott 96 5fr violet/lavender Type II $70

1879-92 Peace and Commerce (Sage)
Scott 102 75c deep violet/orange Type II $30+

1899-1900  Peace and Commerce (Sage)
Scott 108 2fr brown/azure  $40

1863-70 40c pale orange on yellowish "Napoleon III"
Out of the Blue
Absolutely classic- and naturally fairly expensive. A delight for the specialist, and nice for the world wide collector too. One of the cornerstones of a WW collection.

Note: Image pic appears to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!