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.
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.
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