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French Stamps

Issues of 1849-1852

Type:  Ceres

The new French stamps, issued beginning in 1849, featured the profile of the Roman goddess Ceres.

Like the ancient Greek goddess, Demeter, Ceres was the ancient Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility, and motherly love.  In later Roman mythology, she was also referred to as "Magna Mater" or "the Great Mother"

It is well known that, in ancient Roman life, men ruled the empire, but women were the undisputed masters of the home.

This was a very appropriate symbol for the first French stamps, considering that agriculture is such a huge part of the national economy.  In fact, even to modern times, the allegorical representation of the French republic has always been depicted as a heroic female figure.

The new French postage stamps, issued during 1849 and 1850, were all imperforate, unwatermarked, and typographed on white or lightly tinted paper.


  • 10 Cent.  (Sc. #1) - Bister on Yellowish Paper, Dark Bister on Yellowish Paper, and Greenish Bister.
  • 15 Cent.  (Sc. #2) - Green on Greenish Paper, and Yellow Green on Greenish Paper.
  • 20 Cent.  (Sc. #3) - Black on Yellowish Paper, Black, and Black on Buff Paper.
  • 25 Cent.  (Sc. #6) - Light Blue on Bluish Paper, Blue on Bluish Paper, and Blue on Yellowish Paper.
  • 40 Cent.  (Sc. #7) - Orange on Yellowish Paper, and Orange Vermilion on Yellowish Paper.
  • 1 Fr.  (Sc. #8) - Vermilion on Yellowish Paper, Dull Orange Red, and Pale Vermilion.
  • 1 Fr.  (Sc. #9) - Light Carmine, Brown Carmine, and Dark Carmine on Yellowish Paper.

In late 1849, the printings of the 1 Fr. denomination in vermilion and dull orange shades were recalled, due to problems with the colors being too much like those of the 40 Cent. denomination.

All of these stamps exist in tête-bêche pairs, except for the 40 Cent. denomination.  They are all exceedingly rare, and they are priced far beyond the reach of most collectors.

The 40 Cent. denomination comes in two types, with the differences being the numeral "4".  They are shown at the left.  Type II is very rare.


Trial printings were made of the 20 Cent. denomination in blue (Scott #4), but due to the postal rate change to 25 Cent., the stamps were deemed unnecessary, and they were never issued. 

At the same time, some of the blue 20 Cent. denominations were overprinted "25c".  These are considered "essays".

Examples of both of these unissued stamps are shown directly above.

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and the first president of the French 2nd Republic.  At the end of 1851, when he was blocked by the parliament from running for a second term, he became angry and led a coup d'état against the state.  He officially became the Prince-President of the republic.

In 1852, the French postage stamps were still inscribed "REPUB FRANC", but the effigy on two of the denominations was changed from that of "Ceres" to that of "Louis Napoleon".


  • 10 Cent.  (Sc. #10) - Pale Bister on Yellowish Paper, and Dark Bister on Yellowish Paper.
  • 25 Cent.  (Sc. #11) - Blue on Bluish Paper, and Dark Blue on Bluish Paper.

In December 1852, Louis Napoleon dissolved the 2nd Republic and proclaimed the 2nd French Empire.  He was crowned Emperor Napoleon III on December 2, 1852, the 48th anniversary of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte.

All of the French stamps, issued between 1849 and 1852 were reprinted in 1862.  They are printed in brighter colors and on whiter paper than the original stamps.




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Issues of 1849-1852





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