Into the Deep Blue
In November, 1870, the printing of French stamps was moved to Bordeaux in order to supply stamps to the non occupied portions of France. The French emperor, Napoleon III, had just been captured by the German army (Franco-Prussian War), the monarchy was gone, and the nascent French 3rd Republic was ready.
Rather than print using the more complicated and expensive typographic method, as had been done with prior issues, the fledgling provisional republican government elected to use lithography for their new "Bordeaux" issue. The stamps would feature the same "Ceres" design as the 1849-50 2nd Republic issue, and would again boldly proclaim "REPUB FRANC".
How did the original 1849-50 2nd Republic issue look?
As said, the eight stamp issue featured "Ceres", the Roman goddess of grains, motherhood, and the earth. No king or emperor visage for France! (That didn't last long as Louis Napoleon became president (1852), then emperor (1853).)
Some consider the 1849 "Ceres" issue to be one of the most beautiful ever produced. The typographic print is exquisite!
The nice detail on the face and neck consists of dots. This is an important point, as the 1870-71 Bordeaux "Ceres" show the face and neck detail as colored lines or dashes.
Well, let's look at the hastily prepared provisional 1870-71 eight denomination "Bordeaux" issue...
It has the same "Ceres" stamp design as the 1849 issue (Except the 1c, 2c & 4c have a changed frame), but to say it is beautiful?
I'm afraid not.
The appearance is "flat", because of its lithographic origins. And the detail is coarse compared to the 1849 original.
I recall when I was investigating the "Ceres" stamps some years ago, I came across one that was crude and "ugly". I thought it was a forgery, until it dawned on me that I had my first "Bordeaux" issue stamp.
A face close-up reveals rather thick and heavy colored lines and dashes for the detail.
But the stamps intrigued.
I made a note to myself, that someday I might want to investigate this fascinating "homely" issue in more depth.
As luck would have it, recently I acquired a cache of "Bordeaux" stamps from a local dealer.
Should we see what we can discover together?
I should first mention, for the purposes of this blog post, I will be referring to the Scott catalogue numbers and information found in the Scott Classic Specialized WW 1840-1940 catalogue.
But one also needs a proper French specialized catalogue.
The Maury catalogue is an absolute delight, and shows all the detail one needs for the Bordeaux issues. I've borrowed several images from it to show what the catalogue can do.
I propose we look at each "Bordeaux" denomination, and see what we can find. We might look at other "Ceres" issue stamps for comparison. I am sure this evaluation will take a number of posts. Let's begin!
The 1870-71 Bordeaux Issue has the "Ceres" vignette, and this frame design for the 1c, 2c, and 4c denominations. One cannot confuse the Bordeaux issue for the 1849-50 "Ceres" imperforate issue. as the 1849-50 "Ceres" does not have this frame design.
On the other hand, the typographic 1870-73 perforated France 1c, 2c, 4c, & 5c has this frame design. Then the typographic imperforate 1872-77 French Colonies general issue also has this 1, 2c, 4c & 5c frame design. Clearly the imperforate typographic French Colony 1c, 2c, & 4c might have to be differentiated from the imperforate lithographic 1870-71 Bordeaux 1c, 2c, & 4c.
Close-up shows the heavy horizontal lines along the neck. This is characteristic for the Bordeaux lithographic issues. The eye is totally filled in with color. There is very heavy eyebrow markings.
This is the minor number of the typographic French Perf 1870-73 "Ceres" 1c - a bronze green shade. (The major number shade is olive green/ pale blue.)
Out of the Blue
Well, this will serve as an introduction to the "Bordeaux" issue and other Ceres stamp issues (1849, 1870-73, French Colonies 1871-77) that can be compared/ contrasted with it.
More specifically, the 1c and 2c denominations were reviewed.
Hope you enjoyed it!
On to the next blog post entry soon!
Note: If a reader has any information on the probable 2c fake shown above, please comment. !!