Thursday, 11 May 2017

France 1945 - Marianne de Gandon

Dubious past associations can sometimes come back to haunt a person and affect the rest of their life whether they be innocent or guilty. But sometimes unforeseen circumstances can extinguish one's past, giving them a chance to start over.

In late 1944, after Paris had been liberated from the Nazis, the leader of Free France, Charles de Gaulle, returned to France from his exile in England. He quickly set up a provisional Government. One of the things he wanted to do as soon as possible was to have a new France definitive stamp issued, a stamp that would reflect the country's fierce patriotism and pride. He wanted a new Marianne design. Consequently, a contest for the design of the new definitive was launched.

Meanwhile, the stamp engraver, Pierre Gandon, had been considered by Charles de Gaulle's new Government as a Nazi collaborator by continuing to work for the Vichy Regime. They offered as proof his role in the creation of Vichy "propaganda" stamps, namely the Tricolour Legion stamps, issued 12 October 1942. Click HERE to view my blog on this stamp set. Whatever the case, as a result of this alleged collaboration, Gandon was blacklisted and his name was removed from the French Post Office's engraver list.

However, and this is where the story gets interesting, Gandon had actually already submitted a potential design for the new France definitive. And when Charles de Gaulle reviewed all the potential designs, one design in particular stood out. Without knowing who the designer was, Charles de Gaulle chose Pierre Gandon's design! One can only imagine the conundrum de Gaulle faced when he discovered who the winning designer was. It seems that his love for the design outweighed all else, and Gandon was allowed to work on the engraving. This proved to be a superb choice! What resulted was one of the finest definitives ever produced. The Marianne de Gandon.

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It was decided early on in the production of the Pierre Gandon's Marianne design that the stamps would be issued in three versions. A version printed in typography, which was a relatively cheap method of stamp production, was for internal use. This design was engraved by Henri Cortot. And two versions, for overseas mail, printed in intaglio: a small format and a large format. Both iintaglio versions were engraved by Gandon.

On 15 February 1945 France issued two Marianne de Gandon stamps. The first of these was the 4f blue, printed in intaglio. It was designed and engraved by Gandon. It is a truly stunning stamp.


The other stamp issued on 15 February was the 1.50f pink, printed in typography. This printing method produced far less attractive results.


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Four further values were printed in the small format intaglio type. The 20f green on 4 March.


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On 15 March two values were issued. 10f blue and 25f orange.



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On 15 May the last of the small format intaglio stamps was issued. 15f  lilac-pink.



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On 12 March 1945 the first large format Marianne de Gandon was issued. The 50f brown-red. In my opinion this format is also the best! 


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Three further values were issued in this large format. The 100f carmine on 12 March.


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The 20f green on 14 March.


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The 25f violet on 16 May.


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This gorgeous design portrays Marianne wearing a Phrygian cap and staring off to the right (perhaps to the future) with her head slightly raised. This elegant design encapsulates freedom, pride, and strength. To create this beautiful design, Gandon used his own wife, Raymonde, as the model. What a charming way to immortalise your life partner.


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So which format is your favourite? And for that matter, do you have a colour preference?

Until next time...


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