There might seem to be an obvious answer to the question posed above, which would be, “They collect the postage stamps of France,” but there’s actually more to it than that. 

Let’s start with the basics. Obviously, if you’re interested in French postage stamps, then there’s a good chance that you’re interested in the stamps of France and/or related areas, perhaps focusing on a certain era. 

Which era? Conveniently, the publishers of the Yvert and Tellier catalogues, which are the most widely used for French postage stamps, recognizes three distinct time periods. The Classiques du Monde catalogue covers world stamps from 1840 through 1940, and the 2-volume Semi-Modernes catalogue lists world stamps from 1941 through 1960. Anything post-1960 would be considered Modern.

I mentioned “related areas,” and that can be quite an extensive list. A collector might focus on just one of these related areas or many. Briefly, these related areas include Monaco, French Andorra, French Africa, French Colonies outside Africa, and Outre-Mer, which are overseas areas – Guadeloupe is one example – that are considered to be part of France. 

Bear in mind that stamps have a long history. When a country that is still in existence is considered to be a “French Colony” by stamp collectors, the reference is to stamps issued during the time period when that country was historically a colony of France.

It’s not a bad idea for a collector to align his or her interests with specific catalogues; catalogues are not cheap, and they get outdated and have to be replaced. If you’re wondering, the Yvert & Tellier Monaco catalogue also includes Outre-Mer, so in addition to the stamps of Monaco you’ll find the following areas represented: Andorre français, Andorre espagnol, Mayotte, Mission de l'O.N.U au Kosovo, Monaco, Nations Unies (New York), Nations Unies (Genève), Nations Unies (Vienne), Nouvelle-Calédonie, Océanie, Polynésie, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Tahiti, T.A.A.F., Wallis et Futuna.  

Let’s finish this with two lists specifying what countries are in French Africa and which are in French Colonies outside Africa from the American Philatelic Society (with some overlap between the two lists).

French Africa

  • Afars & Issas
  • Algeria
  • Anjouan
  • Benin
  • Cameroun
  • Central African Rep.
  • Chad
  • Comoro Islands
  • Congo People's Rep.
  • Congo Democratic Rep.
  • Dahomey
  • Diego-Suarez
  • Djibouti
  • French Congo
  • French Equatorial Africa
  • French Guinea
  • French Morocco
  • French Sudan
  • French West Africa
  • Gabon
  • Grand Comoro
  • Guinea
  • Ivory Coast
  • Madagascar
  • Malagasy Republic
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mayotte
  • Middle Congo
  • Moheli
  • Morocco
  • Niger
  • Nossi-be
  • Obock
  • Reunion
  • Senegal
  • Senegambia & Niger
  • Somali Coast
  • Ste. Marie De Madag.
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Ubangi-Shari
  • Upper Senegal & Niger
  • Upper Volta

French Colonies

  • Alaouites
  • Alexandretta
  • Andorra
  • Annam & Tonkin
  • Cilicia
  • Cochin China
  • French Guiana
  • French India
  • French Polynesia
  • French So. & Ant. Terr.
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hatay
  • Indo-China
  • Inini
  • Latakia
  • Lebanon
  • Martinique
  • New Caledonia
  • New Hebrides
  • Rouad, Ile
  • St. Pierre & Miquelon
  • Syria
  • Wallis & Futuna Islands

We’ll talk more about all this in future blogs, but the above should definitely get you inspired!

Happy collecting,

Daniel McAdam