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Valira Torrent:   Contents | Subject index

Perforation image from Serif Art Gallery. © Serif Inc, 1996

Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 36, pp9-12 (November 1992).

Copyright notice

French Bureau
Proofs, Essays and Imperforates (Part 2)

by David Lamb & Alec Jacques

The 1931 Overprinted Series

(Yv 1/23, T9/15)

- Essays

a) Postage Stamps

It is evident that, early in 1930, the French Postal Authorities were in something of a quandry as to some of the French stamps that should be overprinted "ANDORRE" - in particular the 30c, 90c, 1f50, 5f, 10f and 20f values. The then current stamps were 30c and 1f50 Pasteur, 90c Berthelot, 5f Mont St Michael, 10f Port de la Rochelle and 20f Pont du Gard (Yv nos 174, 181, 243, 260/2) and samples of these, except the 1f50 value, are known overprinted "ANDORRE". The 20f was overprinted with the larger, heavily seriffed type used for the issued Mersons, whilst the remainder had the smaller sans-serif type overprint. The above essays were perforated, obviously from sheets, and are held in the Postal Museum archives in Paris.

Pasteur with overprint   Berthelot with overprint

Mont St Michel with overprint   Port de la Rochelle with overprint   Pont du Gard with overprint

It would seem that famous Frenchmen, together with French landmarks, were believed not to be suitable to receive the "ANDORRE" overprint. Therefore, it was decided that for the 30c, 90c and 1f50 values, stamps in the Sower design should be used instead. Special plates had to be made for the 90c and 1f50 values, as these values did not already exist in the Sower design, and all three values were printed in September / October 1930, ready to receive the "ANDORRE" overprint. With regard to the high values, the 2 and 3f Merson types were still current (the 3f was withdrawn in November 1930) and thus presented no problems as regards to stock for overprinting. Merson essay The 5, 10 and 20f Mersons had only been withdrawn for a few months at most, and it is believed that stocks of these were sufficient, and that a new printing was not required for the overprints.

There also exists an essay (status unknown) of the 20f Merson type which is overprinted with the large, heavily seriffed "ANDORRE". This is an imperforate, ungummed essay or proof and is not from a sheet and, unlike the essays mentioned earlier, it has been offered for sale on the philatelic market at infrequent intervals over the years.

b) Recouvrements

1f20 Recouvrements essay 5f Recouvrements essay The Postal Museum archives also contain three essays in a Recouvrement design. These are imperforate essays or proofs, all overprinted "ANDORRE" in the smaller sans-serif type. The values are as follows:- lOc violet (Yv T44), 1f20 and 5f. It is most interesting to note that the latter two values are actually inscribed "1f20" and "5f" but were never issued thus! In reality, these two values were issued (France and Andorra) only as a surcharge on another value - ie. 1f20 on 2f and 5f on lf (Yv T64/5).


Yv 174 30c Pasteur (green) small-sans serif  perf from sheet
243 90c Berthelot (red) small-sans serif perf from sheet
260 5f Mont St Michael small-sans serif perf from sheet
261 10f Port de la Rochelle small-sans serif perf from sheet
262 20f Pont du Gard large seriffed perf from sheet
145 20f Merson large seriffed imperf essay/proof
T44 10c violet small sans-serif imperf essay
  1f20 green small sans-serif imperf essay
  5f blue small sans-serif imperf essay

1932 Views and Arms

(Yv 24/45; 47/60; 61/92)

General Comments

Six different designs, all by different engravers, were used in this series. The artwork would have been based on photographs, most probably taken by the Andorrans, José or Valenti Claverol. It is known from an annotated letter in the Postal Museum archives that the original artwork for the Meritxell design was returned to the artist, M.Antonin Delzers, with the request that he reduce the height of the mountain at the left of the design, and increase the size of the drawing of the chapel. No copy of the original, unmodified artwork is held in the archives, only that for the revised version.

Die proofs, Colour proofs, Colour trials and De Luxe proofs are known for these issues. The abbreviations used for this and later series are listed below:-

- without mention of value (undenominated)
EA  engravers die proof
EC colour proof, with control punch, often with pencilled colour ref
EE incomplete engravers die proof; may be lacking shade-lines, value etc.,
sometimes with pencilled annotation "1 er état" etc.
D proof signed by the designer
G proof signed by the engraver
S lacks the name of the designer or engraver from the design

Die Proofs

Undenominated die proofs exist for all six designs, and often appear to have been "cut down" in size, so that they are only slightly larger than the indented area.


value colour design details
- black Meritxell Chapel EE G
2f15 black EA G
2f25 blue violet EA G
2f50 blue violet EA G
4f50 blue EA
- brown St Anthony's Bride EE
- green EE
- pale violet St Michael of Engolasters EE G
- blue EE G
- rose EE G
- black Gorge of St Julia EE
90c black EA
90c orange brown EA
90c chestnut EA
1f blue green EA
2f scarlet EA
2f orange brown EA
3f green EA
- chocolate Andorra la Vella EE
- dark brown EE
- slate violet EE
- claret EE
- sepia EE G
1f50 dp yellow green EA
10f dark red EA
20f sepia EA G
- scarlet Arms EE G
(+ 1 er état avant chiffre)
30c brown red   EA G
35c red EA G
40c blue EA
50c blue EA

Colour Proofs

It is expected that undenominated colour proofs exist for all the large view designs, although they are not yet recorded for the St Michael of Engolasters design.


value colour design details
- scarlet Meritxell Chapel EC 1415 Lx
- orange brown EC 1709 Lor
- mauve EC 1510 Lx
- dull purple St Anthony's Bridge EC
- brown lake EC 1702 Lc
- carmine rose EC 1408 Lx
- green EC
- blue green EC
- vermilion Gorge of St Julia EC 1409 Lor
- blue green EC 1117 Lx
- dark brown Andorra la Vella EC 1710
- scarlet EC 1416
15c scarlet Arms EC 1411 Lc

Colour Trials

Although colour trials (essais de couleur) in imperforate gummed sheets replaced or supplemented singly printed colour proofs (épreuves de couleur) for certain issues of France from 1939, they are not found for Andorra until 1961. However, a few examples of French stamps for the period 1935-37 exist in colours differing from the issued stamps; these are generally thought to be perforated colour trials.

Something of a similar nature seems to have occurred with this issue of Andorra and we refer, of course, to Yv 30A, the 20c Bridge of St Anthony in ultramarine - the colour of the 40c value. The origins of this stamp are obscure, and in the catalogues it is variously described as "unissued" (Yvert), "proof printing" (Michel), or sometimes as an "error of colour". The total printed is usually quoted as one sheet of 25 stamps. This has never been substantiated, and ignores the fact that the rotary presses of the time produced three sheets of 25 stamps for each revolution of the printing cylinder. The stamp has only ever been seen in mint single copies, and is usually centred slightly to the bottom. However, one copy which was sold in 1987 was stated to be well centred, which would seem unusual if there was only one sheet of normally perforated stamps. It is perhaps significant that neither the dated corner (coin-daté), nor the sheet number corner have ever been recorded, thus helping to perpetuate the mystery.
Editor's note: Since this was written the coin-daté has been discovered - see footnote

As a footnote, it is perhaps worth mentioning that an article by Jean Bacquer in Valira Torrent No 6 , dated November 1977, referred to two perforated, gummed and undenominated sheets in the Bridge design, one in an ultramarine shade and the other in blue-green, very similar to that of the issued 50f value (Yv 92). Since no proof of their existance has ever been offered, we now feel that this statement should be treated with reserve.

Finally, for anyone anxious to add a copy of Yv 30A to their collection, examples do occasionally come onto the market and usually fetch well in excess of 80,000 F/f.


20c ultramarine   St Anthony's Bridge, gummed & perforated in sheet

20c ultramarine

De Luxe Proofs

The first épreuves de luxe issued for Andorra (Yv 24/45) are unique in the fact that they are the only ones to bear the top inscription "SERVICE POSTAL FRANÇAIS DANS "LES VALLÉES D'ANDORRE" ". The original twenty-two values were issued on five large multiple épreuves measuring 25.2 x 21.3cm. Each proof contains different values in the same design, each with a suitable sub-heading, ie. "CHAPELLE DE MERITXELL" etc. The 1f25 and 1f75 values, issued in 1933, were single épreuves but still with the top inscription and with the sub-headings of "CHAPELLE DE MERITXELL" or "GORGE DE ST JULIA". These two épreuves measure 12.75 x 15.75 and, similar to the multiple proofs, they are inscribed "ATELIER DE FABRICATION DES TIMBRES-POSTE" at the bottom.

The later issued Arms and Views (Yv 47/60, 61/92) are single proofs, measuring 15.75 x 12.75cm, and are inscribed "Atelier de Fabrication des Timbres-Poste. PARIS" at base.

All the de luxe proofs described above, multiples and singles, have the official control punch and the semi-transparent protective overlay.


Multiple proof Chapelle de Meritxell Yv 24,25,26,27 & 29
Multiple proof Pont de St Antoni Yv 28,30,32,33 & 34
Multiple proof St Miguel d'Engolasters Yv 31,35,36 & 37
Multiple proof Gorge de St Julia Yv 38,39,41 & 42
Multiple proof Andorra la Vella Yv 40,43,44 & 45
Single proof Chapelle de Meritxell Yv 39A
Single proof Gorge de St Julia Yv 40A
Single proofs in Arms design Yv 47/60 (14 proofs)
Single proofs in View designs Yv 61/92 (32 proofs)

Acknowledments to M.Philippe Louviau (Philandorre Revue No 30)


(from Valira Torrent, no 42, p14)

French Andorra "Pont de St. Antoni" 20c blue "Error of Colour"

Life is full of surprises - or so they say - and one of them arrived in May. After sixty three years we now know that the famous Yvert no 30A has the coin-daté of 19/4/32. It has been offered for sale (no price given) by the Parisian dealer, Bernard Behr.

It is also interesting to note that the 40c Bridge in blue (Yvert no 33) also has the same coin-daté, being printed on the following dates:- 16, 18, 19, and 22/4/32. Interesting!

It is hoped to publish a more detailed account in a future bulletin.

20c ultramarine coin-daté

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

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