Buying And Collecting France Postage Stamps
France is an interesting country for stamp collectors. Their first postage stamp was the 10c Ceres issued in 1850. France stamps offer a wide range of topics, as well as many interesting definitives series for those who like to specialized their collection. On this page you will find informations on collecting France postage stamps: the type of collections you can make, the most interesting France catalogs, useful links, where to buy your stamps, some stamps pictures from my collection and more.
Pictures shown on this page are from my collection unless otherwise noted. Unfortunately, they are not for sale or trade!
Why Collect France Stamps
And Why I stopped collecting France stamps at large
I started collecting France stamps at an early age. I must have been about 8 when I got interested in collecting stamps and very soon I paid a particular interest to French stamps. My father, also a stamp collector, had a nice France postage stamps collection and would give me whatever he didn't need anymore. So my collection started to grow. But one of the main reason I kept on collecting France postage stamps is that, until very recently, France had the most amazing engraved stamps (ok, not as nice as Czeslaw Slania piece of art, but pretty close).
I collected used France stamps. Recently, I decided to focus on the pre-1960 period. I also love FDC's and advertising covers, so when I see one I find interesting I add it to my collection. I also have a cute collection on France Valentine day postage stamps. My biggest dream? Having in my collection a couple of these amazingly beautiful and interesting Semeuse booklets. But these are just so rare and very very expensive. Here's one currently on auction, this is the cover only, but you can see why they are interesting:
So why don't I collect France stamps "at large" (all stamps, including new issues, either in mint or new) any longer? Because France is now issuing too many junky "non philatelic" material, aimed only at making money. These new issues are too many and often sell at a premium price because they are labelled as "limited edition" or "collector". Read more here: Another Reason why I don't Collect France Stamps Anymore
France is still a great county to collect and I love adding items to my collection, but one need to specialized. Keep reading for a few ideas and topics!
France stamps: Mint Or Used Stamp Collection?
A country collection can be difficult, not to say expensive, to complete. But if you don't mind having some holes in your France postage stamps album why not? The first thing to decide is the type of France stamps you want to collect: mint or used stamps?
A mint France stamps collection will cost more, much more. Recent issues will be easy to acquire, you can even find them in lots under face value very often on Ebay or Delcampe. You can also buy them directly from La Poste. Older issues, particularly the classics, will run high, even more if you want NH quality. Here's just an example: France Ceres type, Yvert and Tellier #2 is cataloged at 25 000 euros mint and 1 000 euros used.
If you are just starting your mint France stamps collection, the best would be to bid on "face value" or "under face value" lots to get you started. Then try to find some good small collections or mixtures.
An used France stamps collection will be cheaper, but not necessarily easier to complete. Recent issues are getting harder and harder to find in used condition and souvenir sheets are also difficult to find postally used. If you are starting your France collection, try buying either kiloware (stamps on paper) or a small collection. Kiloware is a nice way to get some of these elusive newer issues, not to mention you will have some great trading material. Here's more informations about kiloware: Kiloware
Remember that France has issued a lot of stamps over the years. And recently, things are getting worst with loads of so called "collectors stamps" being push by the French postal office. Just this year, 2 months in 2013, and we have already over 100 stamps already issued. You can read my rant about it here: You Won't Find Most of These 2013 France Stamps in a Kiloware Lot. I am not even talking about trying to find these stamps in used condition.
France Stamps: A Topical Collection
Topical collections are always a popular choice among collectors. You can even limit a topical collection to one country. France has issued so many postage stamps that there is enough issues to build a nice topical collection.
I do have one myself: France Valentine day postage stamps
Here's a few ideas: fauna, flora, famous people, sports, aviation, Red Cross, art, architecture and buildings...... To the basic stamps, you can add the FDC's to make an awesome collection.
Collecting France Stamps On First Day Covers (FDC)
A first day cover is an envelope franked with a stamp and bearing a special cancel dated from the day the stamp was issued. The first official France First Day cover is the 1936 issue "Rouget de l'Isle" (YT #314). The first real "Premier Jour" (First day) cancel is from 1951 on YT # 878. Most of France FDC before 1950 are not illustrated.
First Day Covers of France make a colorful collection. The downside is the space it takes and the overall price of the collection. You can restrain your FDC to a few topic or an era. That will make the collection cheaper to complete, or leave you the possibility to add the rarest and most expensive pieces to it. You can also make an interesting variation by collecting covers, postcard or letters with a stamp canceled the same day it was issued. This is not an easy collection to make, but could be challenging. Finding these stamps on cover could be difficult and expensive. Stamps issued before 1950, alone on cover are quite expensive and the chance of finding one dated of the first day of issue is a real challenge.
Collecting France Semi-Postal Stamps
Semi-Postal stamps are issued to raise money for a cause. These stamps are easy to spot: they show 2 values on it, separated usually by a + sign. The first value is the facial value of the stamp, and the second value is the amount that will go to the charity. In France, the first semi-postal stamps were issued in 1914 for the Red Cross. Between World War I and II semi-postal stamps were helping raise money for various causes: Red Cross, war orphans, intellectuals and artists among others. After World War II, only the Red Cross could be financed by these semi-postal issues. Semi-postals stamps are still issue today by La Poste.
These make a small collection. There is less than 1000 stamps and only a couple are issued every year. Some earlier issues are difficult to find in used condition and may cost more than their mint version. You can add to this collection some covers to beef it up.
Collecting France Stamp Booklets
Another collection you can start is a booklet collection. It will be quite an extensive collection, and too expensive if you try to collect everything. There is many hundreds of them, excluding all the possible variants. The best would be to focus on some of them: Marianne booklets, Red Cross booklets, or semeuse booklets (sower booklets). If I had the money I would definitely do a sower booklet collection. These are interesting because of the advertisings they are promoting. But with price ranging from around 50 euros to 50 000 euros a piece, they are pretty much unnaffordable. Not to mention really hard to come by.
Collecting France stamps on advertising covers
France stamps on advertising covers are another very nice collection to make. You will never know what you can find, because there is absolutely no way to track down all possibilities. There are thousands of businesses who had their own commercial covers, as well as many exhibits and museum. Look around and buy those you find attractive!
The cover shown here is an advert for a philatelic exhibition on propaganda from 1944.
Collecting France Definitive Stamps - Specialize in one of many interesting and extensive France definitive issue series
Some fascinating definitive issues such as the semeuse ( "sower"), Marianne, Ceres, Napoleon, type Sage or Blanc are ideal for those who loves to collect varieties and spend hours spotting variations of colors and such.
France definitive stamps issues over the years
More informations on La Semeuse (The Sower) definitive issues
- Timbres au type Semeuse
An excellent blog dedicated to the semeuses stamps. Lots and lots of informations and pictures! In French.
Pictures and informations on France semeuses stamps. In French
More informations on Marianne definitive stamps
- Marianne - a French national symbol, with French definitive stamps | France
Marianne, the symbolic figurehead of France, originated during the Revolution. A national symbol, we trace images of Marianne on stamps through French history of almost two centuries. Heavily illustrated.
- Les visages de Marianne
In French, a small historic of the Marianne designs
More informations on France "type sage" definitive stamps
- Le type Sage dans tous ses etats
Specialized site on type sage stamps. In French
- TYPE SAGE Timbres-poste d'usage courant Ã©mis de 1876 Ã 1900
More informations on France "type blanc" definitive stamps
- Les timbres au type Blanc de France
Nice type Blanc exhibit. in French
Siege of Paris and Ballons Montes
Paris air balloons covers
This is another interesting collection, but extremely expensive and difficult due to the very low number of covers that were sent via these air balloons.
"The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 - January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune.
Balloon mail was used to overcome the communications blockade, with a rate of 20 cents per letter. Letters were photographically reduced by RenÃ© Dagron to save weight. A total of 66 balloon flights were made, including one that accidentally set a world distance record by ending up in Norway." Wikipedia
Catalogues (Catalogs) of France Postage Stamps
The choice of your catalogue will depend entirely on what type of collection you want to start. It can be a very general catalogue or specialized. Here I am going to highlight some of the well known France postage stamps catalogues.
Stockbooks Or Album For Your France Stamps Collection
Stockbooks will do ok if you are just starting your collection, of if you do a France specialized collection. However, if you plan to do a country collection, an album makes sense. It is easier to get organized and quickly see what is missing. And a quality album with make a nice heirloom to pass down to your family.
Your opinion on collecting France stamps
Interesting pages for France stamps collectors
- Collecting France stamps
News about France stamps, new issues etc
- TIMBRES DE FRANCE
France stamps database with pictures, catalog numbers and more. In French.
- Brief Postal History of France
Postage Stamps and Brief Postal History of France
© 2011 Nathalie Roy
Are you a stamp collector? Do you collect France postage stamps?
David Paul Wagner from Sydney, Australia on April 09, 2017:
I used to collect 20th century French stamps, particularly definitive stamps with portraits of the great French writers, philosophers, musicians, artists, scientists and historical figures (and which often showed the famous person's books or other works or activities in the background). And I also collected 20th century French stamps depicting the various French cities and monuments (churches, abbeys, chateaux, etc.) and the various parts of French overseas territories. Most of those stamps I collected were beautifully designed, engraved and colored and printed in a larger than normal size.
Nathalie Roy (author) from France (Canadian expat) on September 10, 2014:
Yes Paul, this one was an easy one..... Will take a look at others later tonight
Paul from Liverpool, England on September 10, 2014:
One down, lots to go :)
Delia on January 01, 2014:
I have a habit of saving stamps that I like...I have many foreign ones because that's where my family is from...some of the family had lived in France and Russia...wish I had those. I love the French stamps.
Doc_Holliday on December 18, 2013:
I like to stick to first day covers but don't have any French ones just yet.
ePrintPostage on November 06, 2013:
Great lens, thanks for sharing. I have a collection of stamps from many years ago, I don't currently collect but get my collection out for a look through every so often.
Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on June 29, 2013:
this is a little off topic - but I'm french (my background) and my oldest son, because our family is french, is I think, the only person here in our community who cheers for France in Soccer - it's so funny, he has the French flag on his car - I don't think I've seen another one around here (he's an individual, lol) - great page by the way!
Nathalie Roy (author) from France (Canadian expat) on June 28, 2013:
@GrammieOlivia: Stamp collection are very hard to put a price on. It really depends on what's in it. Some stamps are worth 1 penny, other can worth hundreds of dollars. You can always go to a collector shop and ask them to appraise it, it will give you a basis to start with. You can also sell it on ebay: do this by country. remove the pages from each countries and sell them (you scan them and sell them in lot). Or you pass it to the next generation, maybe a younger one can gain interest in them.
GrammieOlivia on June 28, 2013:
I wish I had all the time to go through the stamps my brother left me. There are years upon years of stamps in his collection and I would love to know what to do with them all!
Missmerfaery444 on June 28, 2013:
Really interesting! I used to collect stamps as a child as my dad had a collector's shop (stamps, cigarette cards etc) when I was a child. Of course, at that age I was more interested in wildlife and Disney stamps ;) but I did start collecting Canadian ones for a while as my godparents lived in Ontario.
hmommers on May 23, 2013:
I don't collect them, but stamps are a treasure to look at. I always love to see how images and text are placed on such a tiny surface.
Nathalie Roy (author) from France (Canadian expat) on February 05, 2013:
@JasonJang: Ebay has a usually quite a lot of France kiloware offered on sale. Another good place is Delcampe (here's one lot: http://www.delcampe.com/page/item/id,184188701,var... that seller ship worldwide but you will need to contact him for shipping cost to China)
JasonJang on February 05, 2013:
Hello.I collect only Chinese stamps before,now I want to collect the used French stamps as I am a students that I can`t earn enough money to buy the mint.Could you tell me where I can buy more used French stamps(more than 200g off paper or 1kg on paper) at one time because the shippment is very expensive to China,so I can save the shipping cost.
AlleyCatLane on October 24, 2012:
I have a stamp collection of US and world stamps that was started by my father when I was a kid. I bugged him so much about his collection he finally gave it to me. I update it about once a year and collect stamps I come across all year.
poppy mercer from London on October 24, 2012:
Absolutely fascinating...especially the siege notes by balloon.
JonEboy on June 10, 2012:
Just re reading your lens it struck me that there is a very famous stamp collector missing from your piece about Siege of Paris mail and that is the former French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy. He was featured recently in a stamp magazine as being the most famous collector in the world!
Millionairemomma on June 09, 2012:
These are so gorgeous! I would like to start collecting too!
Melody Lassalle from California on May 18, 2012:
I've been stamp collecting for years. I think France has some of the most beautiful postage stamps.
SteveKaye on May 17, 2012:
I collected stamps until my late teens. It's a wonderful hobby because it introduces you to the rest of the world. Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed looking at these old works of art.
JonEboy on March 23, 2012:
Great lens and it's given me some inspiration for ways I can improve my first lens about Barbados Stamps. Thanks!
athensfever on February 23, 2012:
Nice lens... Now i'm thinking of following your steps and create a lens on Greek stamps :)
Blackspaniel1 on February 13, 2012:
Paul from Montreal on October 22, 2011:
Im going to have to do some digging to try to find the stamp collection I had as a kid, maybe there is something interesting in there! Blessed this lens.
PositiveChristi1 on September 17, 2011:
I've collected British stamps since I was a child. After reading this I'm almost tempted to start collecting French stamps too.
Very informative. Angel blessed.
gregoryolney lm on August 08, 2011:
One of the best countries ro collect ! Like your lens !!
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 28, 2011:
France has beautiful stamps. Very uniquely interesting. I think that Canada's postal stamps are also beautiful and varied in appearance. These countries would certainly encourage stamp collectors ;)
Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on April 07, 2011:
I used to collect stamps many years ago. The collection would probably be quite valuable now, if only I knew where it was. This is an excellent lens, I really enjoyed my visit. I am leaving behind a little momento in the form of a blessing for you.
Kathy McGraw from California on February 27, 2011:
Very interesting....I used to collect some stamps, but not seriously. You have quite a collection, and a lot of good info on Collecting France Postage Stamps.....Belssed by the Collecting Angel :)
WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on February 27, 2011:
I am in the same boat as LauraMarie. I used to collect American and Canadian stamps when I was younger and had several books filled with stamps. An old box of my souvenirs and stamps were in my bedroom at my parents, and then one day they disappeared. Collecting stamps is an interesting and rewarding hobby. It's wonderful to see these colorful and unique stamps from France. :)
LauraMarie LM on February 27, 2011:
I used to collect foreign stamps when I was younger but my small collection got lost. I see that stamps from long ago are worth a decent bit of money now so I wish I had kept them