The commemorative and special-purpose French stamps issued by the the Vichy State of France and the provisional Republic of France, between 1941 and the end of 1944, showcased important people, places, and historical treasures of French history. This period would conclude with one of the greatest historical events of 20th Century, the massive Allied invasion of Western Europe that would soon bring World War II to an end.
The three "monuments and sites" French stamps shown above (Y&T #499-501, Sc. #420-422) were issued between March and May of 1941.
Their designs, in the order that they appear above, are as follows:
A 15 F. denomination stamp in Brownish Carmine (Y&T #539, Sc. #423), featuring the same central design as the 5 F. denomination stamp shown above, was issued on March 23, 1942.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the left (Y&T #545, Sc. #452), was issued on June 22, 1942 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Jules Massenet.
Jules Emile Frederic Massenet (1842-1912) was a French composer of the Romantic Era, best known for his operas, though he composed many other types of music as well.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the right (Y&T #581, Sc. #464), was issued on July 5, 1943 to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Antoine Lavoisier.
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794) was a French nobleman and chemist, and he is widely considered as "the father of modern chemistry". He helped to construct the "metric system", and he wrote the first extensive list of "elements". He is responsible for recognizing and naming the elements "oxygen", "hydrogen", and "sulfur". Being an influential nobleman though, he was tried and guillotined in the aftermath of the French Revolution.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the left (Y&T #550, Sc. #453), was issued on September 14, 1942 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Stendhal.
Marie-Henri Beyle called Stendhal (1783-1843) was a French writer. He is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of Realism Movement in writing.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, in the middle (Y&T #551, Sc. #454), was issued on September 14, 1942 to honor Andre Blondel.
Andre-Eugene Blondel (1863-1938) was a French engineer and physicist. He is the inventor of the oscilloscope, and his work paved the way to a greater understanding of the behavior of alternating current.
The 10 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the right (Y&T #567, Sc. #459), was issued on December 8, 1942, commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Reconstruction of the Town Hall and Belfry in Arras.
Arras, in what was once part of the Spanish Netherlands, is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais Department of France. Arras was basically leveled by German shelling during World War I, completely destroying the town's historical center, with its famous Baroque Town Hall and Belfry. The historical center of town was painstakingly re-constructed brick-by-brick by local citizens between 1924 and 1932, and today, the old town square, the Town Hall, and the Belfry are the principle tourist attractions there.
The 20 F. denomination "monuments and sites" pictorial French stamp shown above, at the left (Y&T #582, Sc. #465), was issued on July 5, 1943.
The design features a panoramic view of Lac Lérié and La Maije (13,071 ft.) in the Dauphiné Alps of southeastern France. The area, in the present-day Hautes-Alpes Department of France, is a popular vacation destination for hiking in the Summer and Skiing during the Winter.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the right (Y&T #583, Sc. #466), was issued on July 21, 1943 to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Founding of the Hospices de Beaune.
The design features contemporary paintings of Nicolas Rolin (1376-1462) and Guigone de Salins (1403-1470) by the Dutch painter, Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464). With both of them being members of the Burgundian nobility, they were the husband-and-wife-team that founded the Hospices de Beaune in 1443.
The four provincial Coat-of-Arms-type French stamps shown above, at the top (Y&T #572-575, Sc. #460-463), were issued between March and May of 1943.
The four designs feature provincial Coats-of-Arms as follows:
The four provincial Coat-of-Arms-type French stamps shown above, at the bottom (Y&T #602-605, Sc. #467-470), were issued on March 27, 1944.
The four designs feature provincial Coats-of-Arms as follows:
The 1.50 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the top left (Y&T #609, Sc. #472), was issued on June 10, 1944 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the France's Traveling Postal Service.
The design features an early postal rail car.
The two "monuments and sites" pictorial French stamps shown above, at the top right and at the bottom (Y&T #610-611, Sc. #473, #496), were issued on June 10, 1944 and October 30, 1944.
Note that the 15 F. denomination stamp, issued by the Vichy French State, is inscribed "FRANCE", and the 25 F. denomination stamp, issued by the post-invasion Republic of France, is inscribed "RF".
The design features a view of the Chateau de Chenonceaux. The Gothic chateau, dating back to the early 16th Century, spans the Cher River in the Loire Valley.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the left (Y&T #662, Sc. #497), was issued on November 20, 1944 to commemorate Thomas Robert Bugeaud and the Battle of Isly on August 14, 1844.
Thomas Robert Bugeaud, Marquis de la Piconnerie, Duc d'Isly (1784-1849) became a Marshal of France and the Governor General of Algeria. He commanded French forces during the Napoleonic Wars and in the Franco-Moroccan War at the Battle of Isly.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above, at the right (Y&T #669, Sc. #503), was issued on January 16, 1945 to celebrate the Liberation of France.
The design features an allegorical representation of "liberation" (Marianne riding Pegasus) along with French Resistance combatants.
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Commemoratives of 1941-1945
The 1 F. denomination French stamp shown above (Y&T #495, Sc. #419) was issued on February 20, 1941 to honor Frederic Mistral for Winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904.
Frederic Mistral (1830-1914) was a French poet, writer, and lexicographer in the Occitan language. Occitan is a romance language that is spoken in Southern France, Italy's Occitan Valleys, Spain's Val d'Aran, and in Monaco.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above (Y&T #599, Sc. #471) was issued on February 21, 1944 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Edouard Branly.
Edouard Branly (1844-1940) was a French inventor and physicist, who was an early pioneer in wireless telegraphy.
The 4 F. denomination French stamp shown above (Y&T #619, Sc. #474) was issued on August 14, 1944 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Invention of the Optical Telegraph by Claude Chappe.
Claude Chappe (1763-1805) was a French inventor. In 1792, Chappe demonstrated the first practical telecommunications system of the industrial age, utilizing his wireless semaphore telegraph system. This system remained in use until the 1850's, when it was replaced by electric telegraph systems.
The 2.40 F. denomination French stamp shown above (Y&T #661, Sc. #498) was issued on November 20, 1944 to commemorate the 800th Anniversary of the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
The design features tombs of the French kings in the crypt of the Basilica.
Saint-Denis is a Medieval basilica located near Paris. The basilica is a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of almost all of the French kings, from the 10th through the 18th Centuries.