The French Group holds the second largest number of headings. It comprises over
a 1/7 of the total of headings - countries or territories existing at present or
no longer existing as separate stamp issuing entities. All the listed headings
were at one time or still are under French influence historywise and/or
politicalwise. Most of them were part of the French Empire as colonies,
dependencies, protectorates, mandate states, post offices abroad, etc., and
later on some of them became members of the French Community.
The philatelic period began during the second French Colonial Empire. The
largest colonial territories were in Africa - French West Africa, French
Equatorial Africa and French Somalia - and in southeast Asia - Indochina.
At its peak, right before World War I in 1914, it extended on a total area of
about 10,000,000 sq.km and had about 60,000,000 people under its rule.
The motives for the overseas "adventures" were not only economical in order to
search for new markets, cheap raw material, cheap labor, but also the strive for
glory and national prestige as well as the urge for spreading the French culture
and Roman Catholicism, driven by a wave of colonialism which engulfed many of
the western powers. The French Colonial Empire survived World War I, however
World War II brought its reorganization as the French Union which was actually
the first step to final fall down. The goal of the French Union (est. 1946) was
to extend citizenship rights to the natives of the French colonies and
dependencies and limited autonomy. It was replaced by the French Community
(est.1958) which granted self government to many of the colonies. The crumbling
of the Empire began in the early 1960`s, when many of the African states
preferred full independence and broke away from the French connection. At present
France has only a few overseas departments and territories. Nevertheless, the
French influence on the one-time colonies is still visible in language, monetary
system and the stamps of those territories are still affiliated to the French
Community due to their common design and style.
Facts unique to the French Group:
- Has the largest number of standard designs stamps.
- Has the second largest number of stamps as a group.
- Classical type of stamps, generally small in size, same for all colonies,
differing only by name of country or territory.
- Largest number of Airmail stamps issued.
Countries or territories in which the French influence was only for a short
period of time or limited, appear under following headings:
French Post Offices in...
CRETE, French P.O.
ZANZIBAR, French P.O.
French Occupation of...
Hungary - ARAD
French Mandate in...
LEBANON (GRAND LIBAN)
French Administration of...
French Zone - GERMANY, Zones
Common types of inscriptions or overprints in the French Group:
RF - Republique Francaise
C.P. - Colis Postaux
F M - Franchise Militaire (Military Frank)
TIMBRE COLIS POSTAUX
AFRIQUE OCCIDENTALE FRANCAISE (AOF)
AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANCAISE