Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Today we will explore an attractive, unmistakably French stamp that shows beauty persevering despite two world wars trying to destroy it.
The stamp today is from France in the early post World War II years. In those years there was a lot of impressionist style views of natural beauty and landmarks. While somewhat held back by the limits of printing, these were great stamps. There was probably some motive to attract tourist. I think a lot of it comes down to an appreciation that the wars are over and so much of an appreciation by the French of how much survives.
Today’s stamp is issue A189, a 40 franc stamp issued by France in 1949. The stamp displays a view of the Meuse River valley in the area of the Ardennes forest. It was part of a three stamp issue in various denominations displaying French landmarks. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents used. A mint version of the stamp is worth $15.00. Given that, one hopes that the original buyer of my stamp at the post office was also a philatelist and kept a few mint copies back to collect.
It is interesting that even post war, French stamps were so heavily influences by the impressionist movement in art. That movement, which developed new painting techniques to better capture the beauty of the colors and lighting in nature, was founded in France in the 19th century. In the early twentieth century, especially after World War I, a new movement called expressionism was more the fashion. This movement was most prominent in Germany and Scandinavia. It was an attempt to capture humans angst as part of the dehumanizing effects of war industrialization and the decline of religious practice. While some pieces from that movement were interesting, I am glad France continued to offer what they did best.
The Ardennes region of France was near the border with southern Belgium and Luxemburg. The Meuse River flows through the western Ardennes forest. The time between1870 and 1945 saw repeated wars between Germany and France. Napoleon III surrendered to the Prussian at the small area city of Sedan. World War I again saw the Ardennes as the site of the German attack on France. 1940 saw another attack by Germany on France through the Ardennes with a breakthrough of the French line again at Sedan. This was not the end of it for the Ardennes as the last large scale offensive by Germany in December 1944 sought to divide the British and American armies by attacking through the Ardennes. This time the goal was not France but the Belgian port of Antwerp in the hopes that then a separate peace with the west could be achieved. The effort failed and the “bulge” in the line was thrown back. The 75 year era of repeated wars has been followed by now nearly 75 years of peace and relative prosperity. Thus this hopeful stamp proved out.
Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the conversation in the below comment section. What is your favorite example of the impressionist art movement on a stamp. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.