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French Stamps

Issues of 1853-1870

Type:  Napoleon III

New French stamps were issued for the 2nd Empire, beginning in 1853.  These new stamps, all showing the effigy of Emperor Napoleon III, are very much like the 1849-1850 issues, but the inscription at the top has been changed from "REPUB FRANC" to "EMPIRE FRANC".

The new French postage stamps, issued between 1853 and 1860, were all imperforate, unwatermarked, and typographed on white or tinted papers.


  • 1 Cent.  (Sc. #12) - Olive Green on Pale Blue, and Bronze Green on Pale Blue.
  • 5 Cent.  (Sc. #13) - Green on Greenish.
  • 10 Cent.  (Sc. #14) - Bister on Yellowish, and Bister Brown on Yellowish.
  • 20 Cent.  (Sc. #15) - Blue on Bluish, Dark Blue on Bluish, Milky Blue, Blue on Lilac.
  • 20 Cent.  (Sc. #16) - Blue on Greenish.
  • 25 Cent.  (Sc. #17) - Blue on Bluish.
  • 40 Cent.  (Sc. #18) - Orange on Yellowish, and Orange Vermilion on Yellowish.
  • 80 Cent.  (Sc. #19) - Lake on Yellowish.
  • 80 Cent.  (Sc. #20) - Rose on Pinkish.
  • 1 Fr.  (Sc. #21) - Lake on Yellowish.

The 20 Cent., 80 Cent., and 1 Fr. denominations exist in tête-bêche pairs.  They are all exceedingly rare, and they are priced far beyond the reach of most collectors.

The 10 Cent. and 20 Cent. denominations come in two different types.  The Type II stamps are the more expensive of the two.  All the other denominations in this set are Type I.  See the specialized catalogs for details.

Some of the denominations of this set exist with various types of trial perforations.  Expertization is required.  See the Yvert & Tellier specialized catalog for details.


Some of the EMPIRE FRANC definitives were re-issued in 1862.  They are all shown above.  These new French stamps are all perforated 14 x 13 1/2.


  • 1 Cent.  (Sc. #22) - Olive Green on Pale Blue, and Bronze Green on Pale Blue.
  • 5 Cent.  (Sc. #23) - Yellow Green on Greenish, and Deep Green on Greenish.
  • 5 Cent.  (Sc. #24) - Green on Pale Blue.
  • 10 Cent.  (Sc. #25) - Bister on Yellowish, and Yellow Brown on Yellowish.
  • 20 Cent.  (Sc. #26) - Blue on Bluish.
  • 40 Cent.  (Sc. #27) - Orange on Yellowish.
  • 80 Cent.  (Sc. #28) - Rose on Pinkish, and Light Rose on Pinkish.

The 20 Cent. and 1 Fr. denominations exist in tête-bêche pairs.  Though rare, they are much more reasonably priced than earlier issues of this type.


Between 1863 and 1870, the inscription at the top of the definitive French stamps was modified to "EMPIRE FRANCAIS", instead of the previous "EMPIRE FRANC".  The new French stamps featured new designs, as well as three new denominations.  They are all shown above.


  • 1 Cent.  (Sc. #29) - Bronze Green on Pale Blue, and Olive Green on Pale Blue.
  • 2 Cent.  (Sc. #30) - Red Brown on Yellowish.
  • 4 Cent.  (Sc. #31) - Gray.
  • 10 Cent.  (Sc. #32) - Bister on Yellowish.
  • 20 Cent.  (Sc. #33) - Blue on Bluish.
  • 30 Cent.  (Sc. #34) - Brown on Yellowish.
  • 40 Cent.  (Sc. #35) - Pale Orange on Yellowish, and Orange on Yellowish.
  • 80 Cent.  (Sc. #36) - Rose on Pinkish, and Carmine on Yellowish.
  • 5 Fr.  (Sc. #37) - Gray Lilac on Lavender, and Bluish Gray on Lavender.

The 5 Franc stamp is extremely scarce, especially in Mint condition, and it is quite expensive.  This high denomination stamp could have been very beautiful, except that IT WASN'T!  The stamp was printed in such pale colors, that when exposed to the environment, the design can fade to almost invisibility.  This is especially bad on used examples.  As far as aesthetics, this is the top candidate for the "most dismal looking stamp" in all of philately.  If the collector really must have one, a used, repaired example can be acquired for well under $100.

Examples of the 5 Fr. denomination exist with the "5" and "F" missing.  They are exceedingly rare.

Imperforates exist for most of these denominations.  With the exception of the 5 Fr. denomination, none of them are unreasonably expensive.




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France Postage Stamps

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Issues of 1853-1870






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