France came a bit late to stamps, perhaps because issuing stamps for the prepayment of postage was not a Gallic idea, and so the French were resistant. Still, it was nearly ten years after the success of the Penny Black and the benefits that prepayment of postage conferred before France issued her first stamps in 1849. She was the last major country to do so. French philately has always been among the most popular in the world, and it was the French that even gave the name, philately, to our hobby. Early French dealers and collectors defined how we collect, and French influence on such aspects of our hobby as perforation measurement and shades are felt even today.
French philately has everything that a collector would want. First, the classic stamps of France are beautifully designed and executed. This was no small feat either. For cost reasons, the French printing office produced the first issues of France by typography, not engraving. This process makes producing the printing plates far easier, but because in typography the design is not held in steel, plate wear happens fast. The French printers had to back up the paper they were printing on with additional paper to augment the pressure that was applied to the plate during printing  (called decoupage). This is a tiresome task, and it is a tribute to the French printers that there is such consistency on the millions of early French stamps produced by typography. But uneven plate wear was always a problem, and the plates that these early French stamps were produced on were groups of 100 clich

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