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French Stamps

Issues of 1903-1938

La Semeuse
Detail From an Old Picture Postcard


-- 1917 One Franc Coin


The Semeuse Type French stamps were first introduced during 1903.  Semeuse, in French, means "Sower".  The new design features a French farm girl walking across a plowed field at sunrise.  She is carrying a bag of seed in one hand, and spreading the seeds with the other hand.  La Semeuse has been one of the most prominent allegorical symbols of France for more than a century.

Every stamp collector is probably familiar with these stamps.  Just about every France stamp collecting packet contains many used condition examples of these.  Of course, the mint condition stamps are much more difficult (and expensive) to locate.

The French stamps with the Semeuse designs were issued over a period of 35 years.  The European stamp catalogs list the stamps in the particular years that they were issued.  This can be very confusing, as the Semeuse issues are intermingled with the Sage, Blanc, Mouchon, and Merson types, which were being issued concurrently with these.

The Scott catalog, which I am using here, lists the major types of the Semeuse stamps in long sets, ordered by denomination.  The only problem with this is that when the set of stamps is displayed, it can have an odd appearance, as the technologies used for printing these stamps changed many times over the 35 year period that they were produced.  But, considering the complex listing alternatives, the Scott catalog listings are the best way to present these issues in an understandable format.


Type:  Semeuse  (Sower)

Lined Background


The new Semeuse definitive French stamps with the lined background were issued between 1903 and 1938.  This type utilizes most of the elements shown in the image at the top of this page, including the field and the rising sun in the background.


  • 10 Cent.  (1903 - Sc. #138) - Rose.
  • 15 Cent.  (1903 - Sc. #139) - Slate Green.
  • 20 Cent.  (1903 - Sc. #140) - Violet Brown.
  • 25 Cent.  (1903 - Sc. #141) - Dull Blue.
  • 30 Cent.  (1903 - Sc. #142) - Violet.
  • 45 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #143) - Light Violet.
  • 50 Cent.  (1921 - Sc. #144) - Dull Blue.
  • 50 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #145) - Gray Green.
  • 50 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #146) - Vermilion.
  • 50 Cent.  (1938 - Sc. #147) - Greenish Blue.
  • 60 Cent.  (1924 - Sc. #148) - Light Violet.
  • 65 Cent.  (1924 - Sc.  #149) - Rose.
  • 65 Cent.  (1927 - Sc. #150) - Gray Green.
  • 75 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #151) - Rose Lilac.
  • 80 Cent.  (1925 - Sc. #152) - Vermilion.
  • 85 Cent.  (1924 - Sc. #153) - Vermilion.
  • 1 Fr.  (1926 - Sc. #154) - Dull Blue.


Type:  Semeuse  (Sower)

Solid Background - Ground Under Feet


In 1905, it was decided to modify the Semeuse French stamp designs to have a solid colored background.

Due to the heavy demand for 10 Centime stamps caused by a postal rate change, the 10 Cent. denomination, utilizing the modified design, was quickly issued on April 13, 1906.  These new French stamps feature the Sower, walking on raised ground, with a solid colored background.


  • 10 Cent.  (1906 - Sc. #155) - Red.

However, when the new Sower stamps went into regular production during 1906, the raised ground under the Sower's feet was removed from the design.


Type:  Semeuse  (Sower)

Solid Background - No Ground Under Feet

The new Semeuse Type French stamps (without raised ground) with solid colored backgrounds went into production in 1906 and continued through 1937.  They are all shown above.

I have also seen these referred to as the Semeuse Cameo Type.

The 10 Cent. Red, 10 Cent. Green, and 35 Cent. Violet denominations come in two typesType I has thin numerals and lettersType II has thicker numerals and letters.  The Type I stamps are the more expensive of the two types.  These types are all shown in the images above.


  • 1 Cent.  (1933 - Sc. #156) - Olive Bister, Bister Brown.
  • 2 Cent.  (1933 - Sc. #157) - Dark Green.
  • 3 Cent.  (1933 - Sc. #158) - Vermilion.
  • 5 Cent.  (1907 - Sc. #159) - Green.
  • 5 Cent.  (1921 - Sc. #160) - Orange.
  • 5 Cent.  (1934 - Sc. #161) - Cerise.
  • 10 Cent.  (1906 - Type I - Sc. #162b) - Red.
  • 10 Cent.  (1907 - Type II - Sc. #162) - Red.
  • 10 Cent.  (1927 - Type I - Sc. #163a) - Green.
  • 10 Cent.  (1921 - Type II - Sc. #163) - Green.
  • 10 Cent.  (1932 - Sc. #164) - Ultramarine.
  • 15 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #165) - Red Brown.
  • 20 Cent.  (1906 - Sc. #166) - Brown.
  • 20 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #167) - Red Violet.
  • 25 Cent.  (1906 - Sc. #168) - Blue.
  • 25 Cent.  (1927 - Sc. #169) - Light Brown.
  • 30 Cent.  (1906 - Sc. #170) - Orange.
  • 30 Cent.  (1921 - Sc. #171) - Red
  • 30 Cent.  (1925 - Sc. #172) - Cerise.
  • 30 Cent.  (1925 - Sc. #173) - Light Blue.
  • 30 Cent.  (1937 - Sc. #174) - Copper Red.
  • 35 Cent.  (1906 - Type I - Sc. #175b) - Violet.
  • 35 Cent.  (1926 - Type II - Sc. #175) - Violet.
  • 35 Cent.  (1937 - Sc. #176) - Green.
  • 40 Cent.  (1925 - Sc. #177) - Olive.
  • 40 Cent.  (1926 - Sc. #178) - Vermilion.
  • 40 Cent.  (1927 - Sc. #179) - Violet.
  • 40 Cent.  (1928 - Sc. #180) - Light Ultramarine.
  • 1.05 Fr.  (1925 - Sc. #181) - Vermilion.
  • 1.10 Fr.  (1927 - Sc. #182) - Cerise, Rose.
  • 1.40 Fr.  (1926 - Sc. #183) - Cerise, Bright Rose.
  • 2 Fr.  (1931 - Sc. #184) - Prussian Green, Blackish Green.



ALL of the Type Semeuse (Sower) postage stamp issues exist in many different formats and varieties.  For details on specialization, please refer to the Yvert-Tellier catalog.  Here is a link to the France catalog on Yvert-Tellier's website.

Timbres de France




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Issues of 1903-1938






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