Egypt: 1921 French Overprint Variations

In an earlier blog, we introduced the French issues of the Egyptian Ports of Alexandria and Port Said. The blog explored the postal issues of the British and French Post Offices and in particular, considered the French key plate designs of ‘Blanc’, Mouchon’ and ‘Merson’. The French continued to use French currency on these stamps until 1921 when the Egyptian currency in milliemes was overprinted. The overprints for Port Said were applied over two lines comprising figures and words – some applied in Paris and others at Port Said itself. An interesting point of note for the philatelist is that it’s possible to distinguish between the two.

The 1921 Port Said stamp issue carry overprints in two distinct type-faces. The usual overprint type-face with the figures and letters carrying flourishes and curvature were applied to the stamps in Paris.

Overprints applied to the stamps locally at Port Said used a type-face that was a thicker block format for the numbers and a thinner type-face for the word ‘Millememes’.

These variations applied to all the designs in the 1921 issue, that is on ‘Blanc” Mouchon’ and ‘Merson’ designs, with the result that a total of approximately 28 stamps make up the complete set registered in most catalogues with values stretching from the modest to several £100 for both mint and used. Stamps with the local overprints tend to command the higher catalogue values. A further modification occurred on the 1925 issues for both Alexandria and Port Said with an overprint of three bars through the French currency.

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

Netherlands Antilles: Bolívar’s Exile

The featured stamp was issued by the Netherlands Antilles in 1987 and clearly features portraits of three gentlemen, perhaps most recognisable being that of Simón Bolívar whose image appears on the stamps of many South American countries. The stamp is one of four in an issue commemorating the 175th anniversary of Simón Bolívar’s exile and the 50th anniversary of the Bolivarian Society. However, what may not be immediately evident in the significance of the other gentlemen or indeed, the link between Bolívar and the Netherlands Antilles.

1987 60c stamp, Octogon, Curaçao
1987 60c, Octogon, Curaçao

Simón Bolívar is credited with leading Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire – Bolivia even taking its name after the Venezuelan military and political leader. Bolívar was born into a wealthy family in 1783 but lost both of his parents to tuberculosis before the age of ten. Bolívar was educated abroad, conducted a grand tour of Europe and lived in Spain for much of his young adult life. In 1807, Bolívar returned to Venezuela vowing to end Spanish rule in the Americas.

1987 70c stamp, Bolivian Society headquarters in Willemstad, Curaçao
1987 70c, Bolivian Society headquarters in Willemstad, Curaçao

Exploiting a Spain weakened by the Napoleonic wars in Europe, Bolívar began his military career in the Venezuelan War of Independence. Venezuela declared independence on July 1811 but the resulting republic was weak and by July the following year, Bolívar was forced to hide from arrest in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. He sought the help of a family friend to escape from Venezuela and on 27 August 1812, he sailed into exile on the island of Curaçao, one of the islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles.

1987 80c stamp, Room at the Octogon, Curaçao
1987 80c, Room at the Octogon, Curaçao

The postal issue of 1987 commemorates that event and include four denominated stamps:

  • 60c: Octagon, Curaçao
  • 70c: Bolivian Society headquarters in Willemstad, Curaçao
  • 80c: Room at the Octagon, Curaçao
  • 90c: Portraits of Manuel Carlos Piar, Simón Bolívar and Pedro Luis Brion

Notably, the Octagon building that features in two of the stamps is the house where Bolívar spent time before he set out to assemble the forces that eventually put an end to Spanish colonial rule in South America – today the Octagon is a Museum in memory of Curaçao’s connection to Simón Bolívar. Manuel Carlos Piar whose portrait appears on the left of the 90c stamp, was a Dutch mulatta native of Curaçao who joined Simón Bolívar in Haiti and collaborated in the wars of independence. Sadly, Piar chose to challenge Bolívar’s leadership and in 1817, Bolívar had Piar arrested, tried and executed for desertion, insubordination and conspiring against the government. It is said that Bolívar heard the firing squad from his nearby office, and tearfully exclaimed “He derramado mi sangre” (I have spilled my blood). The portrait on the right is that of Pedro Luis Brion, also a native of Curaçao and who fought in the Venezuelan War of Independence and rose the the rank of admiral in the navies of both Venezuela and the old Republic of Colombia.

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

Crete: Protecting French Trade

Protecting trade across the Mediterranean has been a common interest of imperial states for thousands of years. The Mediterranean has supported direct trade routes between Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as opening routes to Asia and the Far East. This continuing well into the 20th century and can be evidenced through the establishment of remote Post Offices by imperial powers such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Postal stamps issued by these countries are often identified by key type designs and overprints.

Following repeated uprisings against the Ottomans in Crete (the fifth largest of the Mediterranean islands) that threatened to destabilise the region, France, Britain, Italy and Russia garrisoned troops on the island in 1897. France established Post Offices in Crete in July of the same year at locations including Canea, Rethymnon, Candia, San Nicolo, Sitia and Hierapetra. Initially ‘Peace & Commerce’ stamps of France were used as well as stamps from French Post Offices in the Turkish Empire. In 1902, the French ‘Blanc, Mouchon & Merson’ stamps were issued with ‘CRETE’ clearly marked on the key type design. The issue comprised 15 stamps in total (5 stamps of each design), all denominated in French currency from 1c to 5f.

1902 4c Blanc key type design Crete stamp
1902 4c Blanc key type design
1902 25c Mouchon key type design Crete stamp
1902 25c Mouchon key type design

In 1903, a five stamp issue was released comprising just two of the designs (one Mouchon and four of the Merson design). These were surcharged with local currency from 1 to 20 piastres reflecting the continued regional influence of the Ottoman Empire. For the collector, the higher values in the 1903 issue are relatively rare.

1903 25c Mouchon key type design surcharged 1pi Crete stamp
1903 25c Mouchon key type design surcharged 1pi

Crete, an island to the south of mainland Greece and east of Turkey, proved a valuable asset to numerous empires including Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman. Crete has always had strong ties with mainland Europe and in December 1913 became an administrative state within Greece and adopted the same postal services as the Greek mainland. The French Post Offices in Crete were gradually closed down between 1899 and 1914.

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

Germany: Holy Land

The featured stamp commemorates the 50th anniversary of the cession of Heligoland to Germany. The significance of this anniversary is indicated by the date of issue 1940 and the inscription ‘Deutsches Reich’ – an issue of the German national state during World War II. The stamp is an historical example of postage stamp propaganda and celebrates the strategic significance of these small and otherwise relatively insignificant islands.

Heligoland is a small archipelago comprising two islands in the south-eastern corner of the North Sea lying almost 70km off the coast of Germany. The derivation of the islands name is believed to be from High German language Heiligland, meaning Holy Land. The two islands were once one and were separated by a great storm in 1720. They were occupied in turn by Denmark and various German coalitions for several hundred years until they were conquered without resistance by Britain in 1807 – an action that was taken to protect trading links when Denmark allied itself with Napoleon. The islands inevitably became an important centre for smuggling and espionage against Napoleon’s forces in continental Europe.

1875 Heligoland stamp featuring Queen Victoria and British / German denomination
1875 Heligoland featuring Queen Victoria and British / German denomination

After the Napoleonic Wars, the islands lost their strategic significance, British soldiers left in 1821 and trading activity almost stopped entirely. However, postage stamps were eventually issued in 1867 featuring the embossed head of Queen Victoria and the two prominent colours that became a feature of the islands stamps; Green, representing the land and Red, representing the characteristic brown-red sandstone cliffs accentuated in the featured image. Stamps were issued in British currency until 1875 when they were also denominated in German currency, reflecting the rapprochement with the German mainland.

1952 Germany stamp commemoration of the rehabilitation of Heligoland (image courtesy of Wiki Common)
1952 Germany commemoration of the rehabilitation of Heligoland

In 1890, Britain offered Heligoland to Germany in exchange for the island of Zanzibar off the coast of East Africa. The Germans agreed and immediately simplified the name to Helgoland. During the unsettled history of the early 20th century, Germany established a naval base at the islands and they achieved great strategic military significance during both First and Second World Wars. This significance was exploited by Hitler with the issue of the featured 6pf + 64pf stamp, the additional denomination funding Hilter’s Culture Fund. Ironically, towards the end of World War II, the islands were bombed to oblivion by British air raids and the landscape became virtually lifeless. The islands were reclaimed by the British after the war and then returned to Germany in 1952. Today, Heligoland is part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, a holiday resort that enjoys tax-exempt status.

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

United States: Postal Issues of an Unincorporated Territory

The Panama Canal Zone, also known simply as the Canal Zone, was a Central American territory bordering the Panama Canal. The zone was leased to the United States of America in 1903 by a treaty with Panama, which had gained independence from Colombia just five days earlier. Initially, the Panamanian government took control of the area’s postal services and the first distinctive stamps were insured in June 1904.

Plans for the construction of a canal joining the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, as well as dividing North America from South America, had been considered some time earlier. Survey work had been conducted in 1881 by the celebrated French Engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps (who had built the Suez Canal) under a concession by the Colombians who controlled the area at the time. However, the French company commissioned to build the canal accumulated vast debts and went into liquidation in 1889. De Lesseps was accused of bribery, corruption and fraud, and imprisoned in France. He was later exonerated but never fully recovered from the ill-fated events.

1909 2c stamp of Panama overprinted ‘CANAL ZONE’
1909 2c stamp of Panama overprinted ‘CANAL ZONE’
1909 5c stamp of Panama overprinted ‘CANAL ZONE’
1909 5c stamp of Panama overprinted ‘CANAL ZONE’

Following the 1903 Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, the US assumed responsibility for the Canal’s construction and it was formally declared complete in 1925. The Panama Canal Zone, an area generally extending five miles (8km) either side of the canal, became an unincorporated territory of the US. It’s capital was Balboa and remained in existence until 1979. The first stamps for the territory issued in 1904, were contemporary stamps of Panama, overprinted ‘CANAL ZONE’ and low value US stamps overprinted ‘PANAMA CANAL ZONE’. Panama’s stamps were overprinted for use in the zone until 1924, when overprinted US stamps were again used.

1928 1c stamp featuring General Gorgas, inscribed ‘CANAL ZONE’
1928 1c General Gorgas, inscribed ‘CANAL ZONE’

Between 1928 and 1940, distinctive definitives inscribed ‘CANAL ZONE’ were issued at intervals. These generally depicted scenes of the canal’s construction or personalities associated with government or the Canal Zone Company. This included General Gorgas who appeared on the 1c denominated stamp of 1928 and is best known for his work in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria during the construction of the Panama Canal. Subsequently, stamps were issued commemorating a wide variety of topics including the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Canal Biological Area, Boy Scouts’ Golden Jubilee, centenary of the California Gold Rush and centenary of the Panama Railway. The Canal Zone was abolished in 1979 in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaty of 1977. The canal remained under joint US / Panamanian control until it was fully returned to Panama in 1999.

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

Puerto Rico: Spanish Definitives

Puerto Rico is today recognised officially as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. As such, it adopts the US federal stamps for postal services. However, between 1873 and 1900, Puerto Rico issued distinctive stamps unique to the island.

Puerto Rico is the most easterly of the islands in the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean. The island was discovered by Columbus in 1493 but was not settled and explored until 1508 when Ponce de Leon was appointed Governor by the Spanish. He gave the island its name, meaning ‘Rich Port’ and the island remained part of the Spanish empire for nearly 400 years.

Interestingly, the first postal agencies to exist in Puerto Rico were British and an office was established in the capital, San Juan, in 1844. The first adhesive stamps were introduced at the British agencies in 1865 and can be identified by specific numeral obliterators. The British agencies were closed in 1877 when the Spanish authorities assumed control of all the island’s postal services. The Spanish postal services had been established in Puerto Rico a few years after the British agencies and adhesive stamps portraying Queen Isabella were introduced in 1855. Until 1871, the same stamps were issued in both Cuba and Puerto Rico, inscribed ‘CORREOS’ (post) or ‘ULTRAMAR’ (overseas).

1875 25c ‘ULTRAMAR’ stamp overprinted with paraph
1875 25c ‘ULTRAMAR’ overprinted with paraph

The first distinctive stamps were issued in 1873 and featured the portrait of King Amadeo. The stamps were overprinted with a paraph (a unique signature) to distinguish them from Cuban stamps. The paraph was used until 1877 when a series bearing the portrait of King Alfonso XII was released bearing the inscription ‘PTO RICO’. Three years later the stamps were re-issued with the full name, ‘PUERTO RICO’. These stamps were re-issued annually, bearing the year and introducing new colours, until 1881.

1882 1c Alfonso XII stamp
1882 1c Alfonso XII
1890 ½m Alfonso XIII stamp
1890 ½m Alfonso XIII

The last definitive series was the 1898 ‘Curly Head’ design featuring the young King Alfonso XIII. Following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898, the series was overprinted ‘HABILITADO PARA 1898 Y 1899’ (valid between 1898 and 1899). Others were overprinted ‘IMPUESTO DE GUERRA’ (war tax) and in some cases, additionally surcharged to raise funds for the war effort.

1898 2m Alfonso XIII stamp overprinted with validity
1898 2m Alfonso XIII overprinted with validity dates
1898 2m Alfonso XIII stamp overprinted ‘war tax’
1898 1m Alfonso XIII overprinted ‘war tax’

Spain officially ceded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam, to the US under the Treaty of Paris on 11 April 1899. The first stamp to be issued under the US occupation appeared in August 1898 with a crudely typeset inscription. This issue was closely followed by contemporary US stamps overprinted ‘PORTO RICO’. Ordinary US stamps with no distinctive overprinting were introduced in 1900 when a civil government was instituted to replace military administration.

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

Netherlands: Commemorating a Dutch Naval Hero

The featured stamp is one of a set of three to be issued by the Netherlands on 23 March 1907. These three stamps of identical design were the first dutch stamps to include the portrait of an individual other than a King (King Wilhelm III, 1849-1890) or Queen (Queen Wilhelmina, 1890-1948). The portrait on this issue is of the Dutch naval hero, Admiral Michiel Adriaenzoon De Ruyter and were released to commemorate his birth tercentenary.

Michiel De Ruyter was born on 24 March 1607 in Vlissingen, in what was then known as the Spanish Netherlands, a collection of states in the low countries that were part of the Holy Roman Empire and ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs. In the early years of his career he worked in the Dutch merchant fleet, joined whaling expeditions and by 1651 had become wealthy on the back of successful trading voyages to Morocco, Brazil and the West Indies. However, it was during the Anglo-Dutch Wars against the English (mid-17th to late 18th centuries) that he came to prominence and achieved the reputation as a Dutch folk hero.

1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, ½c stamp
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, ½c
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, 1c stamp
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, 1c

The Raid on the Medway during the second Anglo-Dutch War in June 1667 was perhaps his most famous victory. The English fleet were anchored on the River Medway off Chatham Dockyard in the county of Kent. The Dutch sailed up the Thames estuary and into the River Medway to Chatham where they bombarded fortifications burned ships and towed away many others including the English flagship,  HMS Royal Charles. The raid was a significant embarrassment to King Charles II of England and led to a quick end to the second Anglo-Dutch War with favourable terms granted to the Dutch. De Ruyter died in 1676 following the mediterranean Battle of Augusta during the Franco-Dutch War. The Dutch ships had suffered severe losses during the battle and De Ruyter proceeded to disengage his squadron from the fighting. During the withdrawal, De Ruyter was fatally wounded when a cannonball struck him in the leg – he died a week later at Syracuse on the island of Sicily.

The 1907 commemorative issue comprises three stamps of denominations ½c (Blue), 1c (Claret) and 2½c (Vermilion). In the top left are the tercentenary years of his birth in 1607 and postal issue, 1907. Below this his portrait belied to be based on a painting of 1667 by Ferdinand Bol which is now held in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. To the right is an image (somewhat difficult to decipher) of a naval battle scene. Above this is clearly marked the denomination and county of issue, ‘NEDERLAND’. At the bottom on the stamp is the legend ‘M. A. DE RUYTER’.

1907 Postage Due ,Overprinted 6½c on 2½c stamp
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted 6½c on 2½c
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted50c on ½c stamp
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted50c on ½c

The 1907 issue was closely following in November 1907 with a substantial release of postage due stamps using the same stamp design overprinted with ‘PORTZEGEL’ and the denomination. These were all overprinted on the same ½c (Blue), 1c (Claret) and 2½c (Vermilion) stamps but comprised thirteen overprinted denominations from ½c to 1g. For the avid philatelist, five of these overprints were issued with a slightly different overprint design.

Michiel De Ruyter has been commemorated on many Dutch stamps since 1907 including the 1943-44 issue of Dutch naval heroes (7½c), the 1957 issue to commemorate his 350th birth anniversary (10c and 30c) and the 1976 issue to commemorate his 300th death anniversary (55c).

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

United Kingdom: Commonwealth Games

Monday 8th August will be the last day of the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, England. The featured image is of a stamp from an issue commemorating the sixth running of the event, then referred to as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff, Wales in 1958. The Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations – a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire – including Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia and New Zealand, all of which have hosted the games.

The first British Empire Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, although an earlier event was held in London in 1911 known as the Inter-Empire Championships which is often cited as a precursor to the modern Commonwealth Games. Events scheduled to be held in Montreal, Canada in 1942 and Cardiff, Wales in 1946 were cancelled due to World War II. The event was then run successfully as the the British Empire Games to 1950, then as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from to 1966 and the Commonwealth Games from 1974.

1958 Great Britain, British Empire & Commonwealth Games, 3d stamp
1958 Great Britain, British Empire & Commonwealth Games, 3d

The home nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) compete separately, as do all British Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands) and  Crown Dependencies such as Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Jersey. The most successful country at the Commonwealth Games is Australia with more than 2,400 medals, followed by England and Canada.

1958 Great Britain, British Empire & Commonwealth Games, 6d stamp
1958 Great Britain, British Empire & Commonwealth Games, 6d

The 1958 stamp issue comprised three stamps of denominations 3d (lilac), 6d (mauve) and 1s.3d (green) printed by Harrison & Sons Ltd. on paper with St. Edward’s Crown watermark. Each stamp includes an image of a dragon, the emblem of Wales and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth.

2022 Commonwealth Games Birmingham, England stamps
2022 Commonwealth Games Birmingham, England

All of the countries that have hosted the Commonwealth games have released commemorative issues and in many cases, multiple issues. Other countries that have issued stamps commemorating the Commonwealth games include Anguilla, Ascension Island, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nauru, Norfolk Island, Papua & New Guinea, St Helena, St Kitts, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Tristan da Cunha, Turks & Caicos Islands and Uganda. This year, the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps to commemorate the 22nd Commonwealth Games hosted in Birmingham, England. More than 500 athletes are taking place in the 2022 event across 72 teams including 54 countries and 18 territories. The next Commonwealth Games will be held in the State of Victoria, Australia.

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

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.

France: Tour de France

Like many who have an interest in cycling, this time of year is rather special. July is when the most prestigious of the Grand Tour cycling events takes place and arguably one of the worlds greatest annual sporting events – the Tour de France. Therefore, as a philatelist, the featured stamp has to be one of my favourites too!

The 12f stamp was issued in 1953 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tour de France and features two cyclists, the one of the left in the typical attire of a 1903 competitor and the one on the right in the more modern attire of 1953. The map of France in the centre is overlaid with the Tour de France routes of 1903 and 1953 respectively, although this can be a little difficult to decipher.

The event was first held in 1903 as a publicity stunt for a newspaper, L’Auto, and has been held annually since then apart from breaks during the two World Wars (between 1915-1918 and 1940-1946). The first event was won by Maurice Garin, with many competitors dropping out after the first few stages arguing that it was far too punishing. It was questionable whether the event would even make it past it’s second anniversary. The 1904 was beset with claims of cheating, sabotage and even evidence that riders were beaten up by rival gangs of fans as they neared the top of the col de la République.

Today, the Tour de France is one of the three Grand Tour events which also includes the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. Each of the Grand Tour events comprise 21 stages. Whilst the format of the Tour de France has changed over time, the most coveted classification is the general classification awarded to the rider with the lowest cumulative time over all stages. The leader in this classification is awarded a yellow jersey – a throw-back to the original sponsor, L’Auto, that was printed on yellow paper.

The featured stamp was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris who created more than 500 vignettes for various postal services, notably France and African colonies. Decaris is noted as one of the best French engravers of the 20th century and his designs are certainly memorable. Bizarrely, Decaris was himself an Olympian – he was the last person to ever win a Gold Medal for ‘Etching and Engraving’ at the 1948 Olympic Games held in London!

2022 France Le Tourmalet Stamp
2022 France Le Tourmalet

In 2003, France issued a colourful set of stamps to commemorate the centenary of the Tour de France. On 11th July this year, France issued a single stamp in honour of the Tourmalet, a pass in the Pyrenees which is one of the most popular climbs to feature in the Tour. Surprisingly, the Tour de France perhaps features more often on the stamps of neighbouring countries, most notably Andorra and Monaco.

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