France: Philately’s Golden Era

Last week I published a blog casting a spotlight on one of the stamp designs of the celebrated French engraver, Albert Decaris, that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Tour de France. The featured stamp is another Decaris design, this time commemorating Philatec, the International Stamp Exhibition held in Paris in 1964. The 1f stamp includes images of historical and contemporary methods of communication.

France 1963 Philatec Paris 1964 1st Issue stamp
France 1963 Philatec Paris 1964 1st Issue

Philatec was one of many International stamp exhibitions held during a period in which philately reached its height of popularity. Indeed, there were no fewer than three stamp issues released by the French postal service in the build up to Philatec Paris 1964. On 14th December 1963 a single stamp of 25c denomination was issued featuring the pastime. This was followed on 9th May 1964 with the release of four stamps of 25c and 30c denominations including illustrations of postal mechanisation and telecommunications as well as images of early ‘Blanc’ and ‘Mouchon’ stamp designs.

France 1964 Philatec Paris 1964 2nd Issue stamps
France 1964 Philatec Paris 1964 2nd Issue

The featured stamp was issued on 5th June 1964 to coincide with the start of the event that was held at Grand Palais and ran through to 21st June 1964. This was considered to be the major international philatelic event of the year, attracting thousands of collectors from all over the globe and even commanding significant print space in the worlds press including the New York Times. A post office branch had been installed at the event to sell special souvenir Philatec sheets of the 1f stamps. Each ticket holder to the event was entitled to one of the stamps including an adjacent portion bearing the event symbol. The cost of entrance was therefore a total of 4f (including the 3f ticket fee). Bizarrely, anyone wanting to buy a complete sheet of eight stamps had to also purchase the additional seven entrance tickets!

Entrance ticket to Philatec Paris 1964
Entrance ticket to Philatec Paris 1964

The Grand Palais, located at the Champs-Élysées in Paris, was constructed specifically to host large-scale artistic events. Its lofty glass domes raised fears amongst some collectors that the sunlight might bleach the philatelic collections. Officials were keen to point out that the glass had been treated to filter out ‘colour-destroying rays’. The Grand Palais was temporarily closed in March 2021 for significant renovation works and is scheduled to re-open in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games where it will host the Fencing and Taekwondo events.

France 1964 Philatec Paris 1964 First Day Cover
France 1964 Philatec Paris 1964 First Day Cover

To view postal issues of France, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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