Classic France

The first stamp issued in the world portrayed the ruling monarch of the issuing country (Great Britain Penny black). After that it became protocol to use the portrait of the ruler of a country on postage stamps or in the case of the United Sates to use a deceased president or statesman. Some countries without a strong national ruler might use a national symbol as in the case of the first issues of Canada which show a beaver. Many European countries, such as Russia and many of the German States showed the Coat of Arms of the ruling family. But France began what what was to be a tradition on most of her nineteenth century stamps by using a allegorical image, which on the first stamps was the goddess Ceres, the deity of agriculture who also represented prosperity. France political life was troubled throughout the nineteenth century with Kings being replaced by Emperors which were superseded by Republican forms of government before going back to monarchy. Perhaps this is why for her first stamp France chose a nonpolitical image, one that no one could object to. The first French stamps were issued in 1849, rather on the late side for a major country and have always been among the most popular stamps in the world. Most countries are far more popular with collectors in their home markets than they are with collectors in other countries and this is certainly true of French philately. But due to lovely printing, many scarce stamps but few real rarities, and the prevalence of francophiles around the world, French stamps are extremely popular with collectors everywhere.

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