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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 40, p10-12 (Nov 1994).

Copyright notice

French Bureau
Proofs, Essays and Imperforates (Part 5)

by David Lamb & Alec Jacques

1961/71 Postage and Airs

(Yv 153A/64 + 204, PA 5/8)

General comments

The previous definitives of 1955/8 had only a short life by Andorran standards, having to be replaced in 1961 because of the revaluation of the French franc (100 'old' francs = 1 'new' franc). The postage values comprised three different designs as follows:- the Andorran Coat of Arms, designed by Robert Louis and engraved by André Barre; the Meritxell Cross, designed and engraved by Charles Mazelin; and Lake Engolasters, designed and engraved by Pierre Gandon.

The airmail design, featuring the Incles Valley, was designed and engraved by Claude Durrens.

It is with this new series that we first encounter the colour trials (essais de couleur) which are known for many issues of France since 1939.

Die Proofs

Similar to the l944/5l and 1955/8 issues, the master-dies were denominated, and were as follows:

Andorran Coat of Arms 20c
Meritxell Cross 25c
Lake Engolasters 65c
Incles Valley 5f

These proofs exist in one or more colours per proof. They are signed in pencil by the engraver, and all bear the official seal of the Printing Works. This seal takes the form of an embossed double circle which measures 28mm in diameter. It features the inscription "IMPRIMERIE DES TIMBRES-POSTE" around the perimeter and has the word "CONTROLE" in the centre. This seal is positioned in the lower left corner of the proof, and the number of proofs issued in each design is just eighteen examples


20c black Coat of Arms EA G
20c black & yellow EA G
(proof of the stamp and the two separate parts of the shield)
25c black Meritxell cross EA G
25c sepia EA G
65c black Lake Engolasters EA G
65c bluish green EA G
65c indigo blue EA G
5f black Incles Valley EA G

Colour Trials

The purpose of these trials (essais de couleur) was for the postal and governmental officials to see the designs and to assist them in their choice of the various colours for the forthcoming new stamps. These trials are usually printed in one, two or three colours or shades, and also in various combinations over the sheet, and are best collected in vertical strips of five (if at all possible!)

They are printed from the same plates as used for the issued stamps that were printed by the Recess method. However, they are obviously printed before the issued stamps and, therefore, the colour trials all have coins-datés prior to those of the corresponding stamps.

It would seem that only one value per design is colour-trialled and, for the 1961 original values, these are exactly the same as the denominated die-proofs, together with the later issued 40 and 45c Meritxell and the 60 and 90c Lake Engolasters values.

As with the earlier colour proofs, these colour trials sometimes have additional annotated colour reference numbers. This series is interesting in the fact that the original stamps issued in 1961 have the old type of colour reference number, whilst later values printed after 1965 (i.e. 90c Lake Engolasters issued in 1971) have the new style reference numbers. Details of these reference numbers were given in Part 1 of these articles (Bulletin No 35), and are shown on the colour page of this bulletin.

The exact number of colour trials printed is not known, but one thousand copies is a figure that has been quoted in the past. This would indicate a print-run of some forty sheets and, if this is correct, it would seem some were destined for other than prescribed uses - such as "highly placed officials" and, ultimately, the philatelic trade.


25, 40, 45, 60, 65 & 90c, 5f - Yv 158, 159A, 161A, 162, 163A, 204, PA 7.

De Luxe Proofs

These exist for all postage and airmail values. However, there is a major difference when compared to the previous issues. These are the first de luxe proofs to be printed without the indentation which appeared on all earlier examples. The indentation was the result of the pressure of the die from which each proof was printed individually. It appears that this current series (and subsequent issues) were printed from special printing cylinders. These were capable of producing several impressions at each revolution, with the proofs subsequently being guillotined to size.

Another interesting feature is that this period covers the time the change of the name of the Printing Works from "Atelier de Fabrication des Timbres-Poste. PARIS" to "IMPRIMERIE DES TIMBRES- POSTE - PARIS". Then, in June 1970, when the printing works moved to Perigueux, the inscription became "IMPRIMERIE DES TIMBRES-P0STE - FRANCE". Further variations include the disappearance of the control punch in 1967, and a slight difference of style and length in the inscription for the two values, 40 and 60c, issued in 1965 (see check-list for details and illustrations). It is also interesting to note that the above mentioned 40 and 60c values (Yv 159A, 161A), issued in April 1965, had the modified "Atelier de Fabrication des Timbres-Poste - Paris" inscription, even though the 10f Airmail (Yv PA 8) issued a year earlier in April 1964 had the new correct "IMPRIMERIE DES TIMBRES-POSTE-PARIS" inscription. However, a glance at the coins-datés of the 40 and 60c values, shows that they were both printed in December 1963, nearly sixteen months before being issued, and this explains why these two de luxe proofs carry the inscription used prior to 1964.


a) 42.5mm in length and with official control punch
Andorran Arms 1, 2, 5, 10, 12, 15, 18 & 20c Yv 153A/157 (8)
Meritxell Cross 25, 30, 45 & 50c Yv 158/9,160/1(4)
Lake Engolasters 65, 85c & lf Yv 162/3, 164 (3)
Incles Valley 2, 3 & 5f Yv PA 5/7 (3)
b) 41.00mm in length and with official control punch
Meritxell Cross 40c Yv 159A (1)
Lake Engolasters 60c Yv 161A (1)
c) 34.00mm in length and without control punch
Meritxell Cross 45c Yv 204 (1)
Incles Valley 10f Yv PA 8 (1)
d) 37mm in length and without control punch
Lake Engolasters 90c Yv 163A (1)

single proofs: 13.00 x 10.00cm - Yv 153A/164 + 204, PA 5/8 (23)


All values exist imperforate in the same sheet form as the issued stamps, with the exception of the later re-issued 45c value (Yv 204) issued in 1970. Therefore, the Arms design was issued in sheets of 100, and the Meritxell Cross, Lake Engolasters and Incles Valley designs in sheets of 25. The 45c value (Yv 204) was issued in small sheets of 4 with marginal albino impressions - as illustrated in Part 1 of Bulletin No 35.


Yv 153A/164, 204, PA 5/8 (23)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6 | Part 7

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The colour illustration which follows was included in the Valira Torrent as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of APSC. High resolution (600 dpi) printed copies can be purchased from APSC. It can also be supplied as a compressed file on floppy disk. For more information see APSC 20th Anniversary Souvenirs

Colour trials of the 25c and 90c values showing the two
   styles of colour reference (61KB)

Andorran Philatelic Study Circle / Hon. Librarian: E. J. Jewell / apsc@free.fr /
Updated 18th September 1998