French Stamps: Historical Background
The first postage stamp was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1840 by Rowland Hill and James Chalmers. This stamp,Guest Posting the penny black, had a face value of a penny and revolutionized the postal system in that it was now up to the sender to bear the cost of postage and not the recipient as had been the case until then. Because it was now so cheap to send letters, even by 1840 a penny was not a lot of money, the change prompted an almost instant increase in the amount of mail. Other countries took notice and reformed their own postal system, amongst which Brazil in 1843, the United States Self Inking Stamp in 1847 and France in 1849.
While the same change was proposed as soon as 1837 in France, it took nine years for the postal administration to change, following the 1848 revolution and the impetus of Arago. The first French stamp featured Ceres, the Roman divinity for agriculture and had a face value of 20 centimes or cents. The drawing of Ceres is from Jean Jacques Barre. The Ceres stamp was enough to pay for an envelope up to 7.5 grams to be sent anywhere in France. Shortly after was released a 40 centimes stamp color orange for bigger envelopes and a vermilion red 1 Franc stamp. However, the color of the 1 Franc stamp was too similar to the 40 centimes stamp and people were confusing them. This lead to a change in color for the 1F stamp from vermilion red to deep carmine. Today, the vermilion red 40 centimes stamp is the rarest of French stamps.
French Stamps Today
Stamp collecting is the number one hobby in France with more than two million people practicing it. Exotic islands, botanic, birds, stamp sheets, specimens or air post stamps are popular themes amongst French stamps collectors. Like in other countries, the value of French stamps is often determined by some type of unusual feature some stamps are known to exhibit. This is true for old and new stamps alike. For example, the 1989 stamp commemorating the Revolution designed by Folon is worth less than a euro, but if the signature of Folon is lacking the value of the stamp jumps to 180 euros. Similarly, if the face value of the stamp issued in 2004 commemorating the entente cordiale between France and England is lacking, the stamp can be worth 300 euros and up.