Collectors’ Stamps From French Guiana
French Guiana is a small territory hidden away on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. An overseas department of France, it has an ethnically diverse population consisting primarily of people of Haitian, Creole, European and Asian ancestry. French settlement of the region began as early as the 1760s, though it was not until the early 1800s that a sustainable colony was established.
From 1852 to 1946, French Guiana hosted the notorious Devil’s Island prison colony, which over the course of nearly a century was home to more than 80,000 murderers, thieves and political prisoners who opposed the Napoleonic regime. In 1946, the prison closed its doors for good, and French Guiana was formally named an overseas department of France. Today, it depends heavily on subsidies, as there is little manufacturing or agriculture due to poor soil conditions and underdeveloped infrastructure.
French Guiana Collectors’ Stamps
Like a lot of European colonies, there remains a strong philatelic interest in the early stamps of French Guiana – one need only consider the record prices fetched by the 1856 1c magenta of nearby British Guiana for proof of that.
From 1860 onward, French stamps were used for postage in French Guiana. In 1886, the region adopted the general issues printed for French colonies, in this case overprinted with the text Déc 1886/Guy. Franç. These early overprints are some of the highest-valued rare stamps of French Guiana and regularly fetch high prices at auction – though nowhere near as much as the more than $9 million commanded by the 1c magenta.
From 1892 to 1904, the colony used the Navigation and Commerce stamps, the first formal issue with the territory’s name – at that point spelled Guyane – printed on it. Of these, several different color and denomination variants exist.
In 1905, the region got its own specially printed stamps, which celebrated French Guyanese nature, people and other themes. These pictorial issues feature some highly attractive designs, as well as multiple color surcharges, making them another great series of French Guiana stamps collectors would do well to look into.
French Guiana’s Philately Today
With French Guiana’s 1946 adoption into the French Republic, native stamps were phased out and, by the following year, replaced entirely with standard French issues. Today, there remains a strong collector’s market for early rare stamps from French Guiana.
If you’re looking for something to complete your collection, there’s no better place to buy rare French Guiana stamps online than Apfelbaum. Inventories in our online store and buy-it-now sales change regularly, though we frequently have available stamps from French Guiana, as well as other French colonies and countries in South America and the Caribbean.
For more information about buying rare stamps online, or to request an appraisal for your own collection of French Guiana stamps, contact Apfelbaum today.