France’s First Issue “Bearded Lady”

The One Franc high value of the 1849 first issue of France comes in a variety of colours and shades: Carmine, Carmine-Brown, Vermilion (including Bright and Dark shades). It can be found with large even margins, in blocks (including one with one position inverted, the “tete-beche” variety). Covers are available as well, with a multiplicity of cancels. The stamp lends itself to specialisation, whether as a subject for a mouth-watering one-frame exhibit or as part of a larger showing of the First Issue.

The most dramatic of the plate varieties that can be found for the issue (and for this value) is the so-called “barbiche” (or “bearded lady”) variety, where one position in the printing plate suffered an accident and/or was retouched, clearly showing a “beard” under Ceres’ chin. Only two examples have ever been discovered, both mint – the one offered here, and another that was in the “Lafayette” auction (though not as pronounced) and is now part of the Joseph Hackmey collection.

As a “foundation” for an exhibit of this issue or this value, it is the ULTIMATE showpiece – a “crown jewel” of France and of world classic philately !