Most expensive French stamps

that you probably inherited

France has been issuing postal stamps since the 1st January 1849, and ever since their stamps are considered by collectors as some of the most interesting and collectible stamp issues in the world. With its rich and diverse history France presents a diverse and interesting philatelic material that includes some really rare and valuable items. The stamps that were issued by France in the 20th century are thought today to be the most beautiful and fascinating in the world. Many interesting French philatelic items were engraved that is why these stamps represent real miniature ""works of art"". A great variety of French postage stamps available to buyers makes this area of collecting one of the very busiest, if not the busiest, in the hobby today. We invite you to take a look at the list of the rarest French stamps that will also give you an overlook of the development of rich and diverse French philatelic history.

MOST VALUABLE FRENCH STAMPS

  • 1Fr Light carmine on yellowish tete-beche, 1849 stamp

    1Fr Light carmine on yellowish tete-beche, 1849

    $190,000

    1849 1Fr Light carmine on yellowish is a very rare horizontal tete-beche pair in a very fine condition. The pair is considered to be one of the greatest 1849-50 Ceres issue tete-beche rarities extant, with only four unused examples recorded. This philatelic item can adorn the finest collections of classic French stamps. The inverted cliche comes only from position 35 from the first plate used to print the 1Fr value. This spectacular pair was sold for $190,000 by Robert A. Siegel on June 19, 2010. The lot was once a part of a famous Ferrari collection.

  • 10c Bister on Yellowish Tete-Beche block, 1849 stamp

    10c Bister on Yellowish Tete-Beche block, 1849

    $90,000

    1849 10c Bister on Yellowish Tete-Beche is a block of nine unused 10-centimes Ceres issue of France with the center stamp arranged tete-beche in relation to others. The unique feature of this magnificent showpiece is the quantity of stamps that it contains. As most tete-beche multiples are pairs or strips of three, this block, with the center stamp tete-beche, is the unique philatelic item that is worth a fortune. 1849 10c Bister on Yellowish Tete-Beche was sold for $90,000 by Robert A. Siegel on June 19, 2010.

  • France Ceres series 1-franc stamp, 1849

    France Ceres series 1-franc stamp, 1849

    $75,000

    The 1fr is the rarest stamp of France's Ceres Issue and one of the most desirable philatelic items for every stamp collector. The Ceres Issue was France's first, arriving in 1849 under the French Republic. The stamps were designed by Jacques-Jean Barre. Although the stamps come in two basic colours (vermillion and carmine), they have something in common – they feature the head of Ceres, Roman goddess of growing plants, symbolising the rise of the newly formed republic. The vermilion specimen is considered to be the rarer of the two. A dull-orange red Ceres series 1-franc stamp from the vermillion group, which is a key rarity in original gum condition for any collector of France, was sold for $75,000 at Siegel auction on November 13, 2013 in New York.

  • 25 centimes tête-bêche pairs, 1850 stamp

    25 centimes tête-bêche pairs, 1850

    $72,500

    The blue 25 centimes stamp was issued on July 1, 1850, and remained in use until September 1852. One tête-bêche cliché occurred at position 131 of the second plate. The second plate was not placed in use until 4.3 million stamps had already been printed using the first plate, so only about 136 thousand tête-bêche pairs were printed. Many used tête-bêche pairs have survived, but only two unused examples are known to survive. One of such pairs was in the Ferrary collection. It is considered to be one of the greatest of all the French mint tete-beche rarities that was sold for $72,500 by Robert A. Siegel on June 19, 2010.

  • France Napoleon III 10 centimes, 1852 stamp

    France Napoleon III 10 centimes, 1852

    $40,000

    1852 10c Dark bister on yellowish is a rare and seldom offered stamp. This classic rarity is missing from most advanced collections of France. After President Louis Napoleon consolidated power, his portrait replaced that of Ceres on French stamps, starting in 1852. The basic design remained the same, including the “REPUB FRANC” inscription and featuring the profile of Louis Napoleon - a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. The unique specimen France Napoleon III 10 centimes that has full original gum and is lightly hinged was auctioned for $40,000 at Robert A Siegel Auction Galleries' sale on November 13, 2013 in New York.  According to Siegel, the stamp is almost never offered in sound condition, yet this example was "especially choice".

  • France 1941 SS Pasteur stamp

    France 1941 SS Pasteur stamp

    $30,000
    France 1941 S.S. Pasteur stamp is a great 20th century French rarity. This special stamp was issued to commemorate the SS Pasteur - an ocean liner built for Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique. In all, she sailed for 41 years, and was considered as one of the most beautiful passenger liners of her time. This semi-postal stamp depicting Pasteur and printed in dark blue green was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris, and issued by France on July 17, 1941. 
     

     

    One of the specimens with the red surcharge missing was sold for $30,000 by Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions on Oct. 13, 2017. This is the error stamp as the horizontal stamps were issued only as a surcharged semipostal with a red overprint of two short horizontal lines. There are only eight France 1941 SS Pasteur stamp without this surcharge that is known today.

  • 10c Postage Due stamp, 1859

    10c Postage Due stamp, 1859

    $23,100

    1859 10c Postage Due stamp is one of the most interesting French stamps. Postage due stamps were the first stamps issued which did not prepay for the delivery of mail. During the time the Postal Service was using these stamps the delivery amount was paid, not by the sender, but rather by the recipient of the mail and that there was a stamp to identify it. A French 10c Postage Due stamp issued in 1859 is thought to be the world's first postage due stamp. This unique item was auctioned for $23,100 at Cherrystone auction in May 2006. 

  • Fezzan 1943 Postage Dues stamp

    Fezzan 1943 Postage Dues

    $21,850

    Fezzan is the south-western region of Libya, and it is mostly rugged desert. Fezzan was captured by Free French forces of Chad in 1943. Initially, twelve regular, three air mail, five pairs of parcel post, and five postage due stamps of Libya and Italy were overprinted Fezzan and surcharged in French currency, in assorted denominations ranging from 50 centimes to 50 francs. These stamps are listed in the French Ceres catalogue of French Colonies in both mint and used condition. Fezzan 1943 Postage Dues, surcharged 5fr on 1L orange was auctioned for $21,850 at Cherrystone auction in January 2010.

  • French Congo 5c on 20c Red on Green, 1900 stamp

    French Congo 5c on 20c Red on Green, 1900

    $18,000

    1900 French Congo 5c on 20c Red on Green is a classic French rarity. Only three examples of this special stamps are known to exist. The stamps were used in Brazzaville for only four days due to a shortage of 5c stamps and then a new supply of the regular 5c stamps arrived. Three-hundred 20c stamps were surcharged 5c and given to the postmaster. After July 12, the remaining 5c provisionals were burned. Only three stamps were retained by a postmaster and only these unused specimens survived. The stamp is considered to be one of the most popular items for philately enthusiasts who are involved in completing French Colonies collection. 1900 French Congo 5c on 20c Red on Green was sold for $18,000 by Robert A. Siegel on January 22, 2015.

  • 5fr Gray Lilac on Lavender Paper, 1869 stamp

    5fr Gray Lilac on Lavender Paper, 1869

    $7,500

    1869, 5fr Gray Lilac on Lavender Paper is very exquisite and rare French stamp that was printed in bright fresh color. It is considered to be the most popular and thought-after classic stamps of France. Due to its larger size, both unused and used copies usually have some faults and damages, whereas the unused specimens often lack all or most of the original gum. It is very difficult to find a stamp in mint never hinged condition. However, they exist. One of such items with full intact perforations all around, small natural paper inclusion at top right in an extremely fine condition was sold for $7,500 by Robert A. Siegel on November 13, 2013.