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Collecting France Postage Stamps

Updated on September 27, 2014

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!

France airmail stamp
France airmail stamp

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:

Sower booklet
Sower booklet | Source

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!

Buy 2014 France stamps from the post office
Buy 2014 France stamps from the post office | Source

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

France art stamps
France art stamps

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

France YT #386-87 used semi-postal
France YT #386-87 used semi-postal

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

France 1972 Red Cross booklet
France 1972 Red Cross booklet

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

cover for a propaganda philatelic exhibition
cover for a propaganda philatelic exhibition | Source

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

France stamps semeuse sower
France stamps semeuse sower

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

France ballon monte cover
France ballon monte cover

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 René 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.

Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue 2012: Countries of the World C-F
Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue 2012: Countries of the World C-F

Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue For the general France stamps collector.

Scott is the well known North American reference when it come to general stamps collecting. Most sellers in North America and overseas use the Scott catalog numbers and prices. The negative point of buying this catalog if you only collect 1 country is that you have to buy the whole volume, not just the specific country you are interested in.

If you are just starting to collect France stamps, or if you don't wish to get too specialized, Scott catalogues are good enough. Listing includes all the stamps, souvenir sheets and booklets. The most common types and varieties are also included, but it won't be good enough if you are looking to specialized into a specific set (such as Semeuse or Marianne).

The advantage for a new collector: most online sellers are familiar with Scott numbers.

"catalogue mondial de cotation ; timbres de France t.1 ; 1849 à nos jours (édition 2012)"
"catalogue mondial de cotation ; timbres de France t.1 ; 1849 à nos jours (édition 2012)"

Yvert et Tellier France stamp catalogue

This is one of the best France specialized catalog and a must have if you buy on European market since YT catalog numbers are used om most European market for France stamps. It is a color catalog that includes a lot of information: price for mint, used and on cover (commercial covers). Price for FDC, all sorts of souvenir sheets, price for booklets, official documents, stamp proofs, personalized stamps and most back of the book. For classic stamps (Ceres and Napoleon) you also have price according to the rarity of the cancel they bear. on and off covers.


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

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© 2011 Nathalie Roy

Are you a stamp collector? Do you collect France postage stamps?

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    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 3 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Yes Paul, this one was an easy one..... Will take a look at others later tonight

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 3 years ago from Liverpool, England

      One down, lots to go :)

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 4 years ago

      I like to stick to first day covers but don't have any French ones just yet.

    • ePrintPostage profile image

      ePrintPostage 4 years ago

      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.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      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!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      @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.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      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.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      @JasonJang: Ebay has a usually quite a lot of France kiloware offered on sale. Another good place is Delcampe (here's one lot:,184188701,var... that seller ship worldwide but you will need to contact him for shipping cost to China)

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      JasonJang 5 years ago

      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.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      Absolutely fascinating...especially the siege notes by balloon.

    • JonEboy profile image

      JonEboy 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      These are so gorgeous! I would like to start collecting too!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 5 years ago from California

      I've been stamp collecting for years. I think France has some of the most beautiful postage stamps.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      JonEboy 5 years ago

      Great lens and it's given me some inspiration for ways I can improve my first lens about Barbados Stamps. Thanks!

    • profile image

      athensfever 6 years ago

      Nice lens... Now i'm thinking of following your steps and create a lens on Greek stamps :)

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • Timewarp profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      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 profile image

      PositiveChristi1 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      gregoryolney lm 6 years ago

      One of the best countries ro collect ! Like your lens !!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      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 ;)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      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.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      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 profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      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 profile image

      LauraMarie LM 7 years ago

      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