French Heart-Shaped Stamps

This article is about the French Post issues of greeting stamps from 1999-2020. Since 1999, French Post issued on a yearly basis, roughly at the beginning of each year, heart-shaped stamps in singles (1-2 per year, both gummed and self-adhesive) accompanied by sheets in vivid colors. Twenty-two such issues are known to date. Thematically, they correspond to a lot of topics: they are of course greeting stamps, but also irregularly shaped stamps. They are love stamps or Valentine’s Day stamps. Last but not least, since for the majority of issues the design was inspired by the heritage of fashion designers, couturiers, perfumers, jewelers, producers of luxury goods, crystal manufacturers and watch-makers, they are fashion stamps.


La Poste issued greeting stamps irregularly since 1994, but it was not until 1999 that a true tradition was started, which is kept until today. In the beginning of the year, one of the first releases is a set of stamps which are heart-shaped. Heart-shaped stamps were not a novelty in 1999. The first (self-adhesive) heart-shaped stamps were issued as early as 1964 by Tonga. But in 1999 heart-shaped stamps were still a rarity – especially the gummed, perforated variety.

I assume there was no plan in the beginning – just the sheer joy of sharing philatelic products that stand out by their shape, coloring and universal message of love. But very fast it became clear this is becoming a tradition, and each year showed new releases which gradually started to fashion a long-lasting collaboration between famous French brands and philately.


To date, some of the most widely known house names of France have contributed to the series; among the names you will find Yves Saint-Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Givenchy, Lanvin, Hermès or Guerlain.


1999

The first 1999 issue was not branded and is the only issue that was represented on a sheet with two different designs, totalling 10 stamps. The further issues average at 5 stamps per sheet.


2000

One of my favorite designs of the series was issued in 2000, with a Yves Saint-Laurent design.


2001

Continuing what was to become a really nice tradition, Christian Lacroix inspired the design of the 2001 issue.


2002

My least favorite design of the series was issued in 2002 with the topic « J’aime ma terre » (English: « I love my land »). I don’t think it’s the most inspired issue of French stamps and stands out from the series through its quite dramatic design.


2003

The iconic fashion house Torrente inspired the design of the 2003 issue. Although quite nice, it does not entirely do justice to the rich history of the fashion house.


2004

The 2004 release features design inspired by Chanel.


2005

The 2005 issue, inspired by Cacharel is one of the most interesting issues of the series. I like the intricate design of the stamps themselves, and they truly stand out when used as postage.


2006

Now this 2006 issue inspired by Jean-Louis Scherrer is truly kitschy! It even features a leopard print border. And the colors are quite an eye-sore! But hey, a tradition needs to continue!


2007

The 2007 Givenchy issue is again one of my favorites. The design simply holds together and the individual stamps are truly beautiful.


2008

Not the most beautiful issue as a sheet, but really great as individual stamps, we have in 2008 the Franck Sorbier inspired issue.


2009

The Emanuel Ungaro 2009 issue comes back to palatable design. Both the sheet and individual stamps are great.


2010

The Lanvin house inspired stamps of 2010 have a very intricate design, but somehow they manage to hold together quite well, too.


2011

Really psychedelic! But altogether a nice release: the 2011 Maurizio Galante sheet.


2012

Adeline André inspired the issue of 2012 -the first issue to feature on the sheet the self-adhesive variety of the stamps.


2013

A great release with macro- and mini- design was inspired by Hermès in 2013.


2014

The issue of 2014 inspired by Baccarat is the only one released in two varieties – a sheet with 61 eurocent stamps and one with 3 euro stamps (not pictured).


2015

This Jean-Charles de Castelbajac issue of 2015 simply stole my heart when it was issued. Look at the delicate colors and the way they shape up such a powerful design!


2016

Just as fancy as the previous issue, the 2016 issue is inspired by André Courrèges. Interesting fact: the stamps were issued on 15-Jan 2016, 9 days after the death of the French fashion designer.


2017

The 2017 issue was inspired by Balmain. I like the sombre design and I think the individual stamps are quite a catch despite being the least colorful of the series.


2018

The 2018 issue is grand! Sonia Rykiel’s Dictionnaire déglingué (English: Wonky Dictionary) is the source of inspiration of the design of the stamps – many of the words including the designer’s initials – see the Baiser 1968 heading where the S and R of her initials are printed in red letters.


2019

The 2019 issue was inspired by Boucheron. The golden print design is quite nice, I have to say.


2020

The latest issue of the series of 2020 features design inspired by Guerlain.


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Stamps featured in post: 22; Period: contemporary (1999-2020); Pricing: low;  although to sum up in your collection the whole set of 22 sheets you would need to roughly give out 200EUR. Michel Catalog no’s: France 3359, 3436, 3508, 3596, 3677, 3774, 3898, 4025, 4196, 4352, 4584, 4798, 5021, 5226, 5496, 5760, 6058, 6359, 6652, 6939, 7238, 7521. Availability: not readily available, may surface in online auctions.

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