Stamps printed on TD3 presses
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Printing principle on a TD3 press

Three-colour intaglio rotary printing machines (TD3 presses), developed by Louis Chambon in 1929, allow to print at most three colours during one turn of a plate cylinder thanks to three ink reservoirs. The plate cylinder is made of 3 printing cylinder parts (in brass or steel) screwed on the printing cylinder. Ink is transported on the part of the engraving to be coloured by a plastic roller (called the touch roller), the circumference of which is equal to the length of a sheet of stamps. This roller is hand cut so that it comes in contact with only the part of the stamp that is to receive that colour. Let us notice that for the stamp 0,50F Marianne de Béquet, which is one coloured, a single ink reservoir is sufficient. In this case, the touch roller is not cut.

On TD3 rotary presses, gummed paper is unwound from a reel and then moistened with a polyurethane roller. Paper then passes through the plate cylinder, inked and wiped by a roller, and a press roll. Three colours are thus printed together during a single plate cylinder revolution.

Printer’s markings (control number, plate number and date) are then letterpress printed on a selvage. Rotary press then makes perforation, cutting and reception of sheets. One may notice that anti-smear tissue paper is added to printed sheets. The two sheets (tissue and printed paper) are perforated and cut together and, at the end of the process, tissue paper must be separated from the sheet of stamps by hand, sheet after sheet (which is really expensive for definitive stamps).

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schematic diagram of a TD3 press


On TD3 presses, perforation is made by a comb formed by an horizontal row of needles having the width of a stamps sheet and by 11 side rows. Comb is a hole-punching machine with an alternate and oscillating movement.

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principle of comb perforation of stamps on a TD3 press


Printing of TD3 sheets

The following picture shows the printing plan on a TD3 press:

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printing principle on a TD3 press


A plate cylinder prints three sheets of 100 slept stamps, in a bottom-up direction. The first sheet (sheet A on the image on the side) is spotted by 2 red lines under the 100th stamp, the following one (sheet B) by 1 red line (also under the 100th stamp) and the last one (sheet C) has no mark (we may note that TD3 sheets do not possess electronic marks, contrary to what takes place for sheets produced by a TD6 press). A sheet is approximately 280 mm up and 290 mm wide. The side margins are white and pinked; the up and down margins are two stamps wide and possess guilloches.

The control number of the sheet is situated under the 91st stamp, the plate number TD3-x (x = 1 or 5) under the 96th stamp and the date, situated under the 100th stamp, is parallel to the largest side of the stamp.

We can see below the photo of a 0,50F Marianne de Béquet TD3 sheet printed on the press TD3-1:

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sheet of 100 stamps produced on the TD3-1 press


Stamps produced on TD3 presses


Following the high demand linked to the sending of greeting cards at the beginning of year 1971, two additional printings were performed on TD3 presses (besides those produced on the seven TD6 presses). We will first show the characteristic features of each of these two cylinders, then we will illustrate these two printings.

Characteristic features of the cylinders used on TD3 presses

Characteristic features of the cylinders used for producing TD3 sheets


1 and 2 red lines
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Printings made on TD3 presses

7th printing, on the press TD3-1

From 8.1.71 to 3.2.71, with cylinder F.

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plate number block of 8 stamps printed on the TD3-1 press with 2 red lines


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plate number block of 8 stamps printed on the TD3-1 press with 1 red line


8th printing, on the press TD3-5

From 7.1.71 to 20.1.71, with cylinder E.

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plate number block of 8 stamps printed on the TD3-5 press with 2 red lines


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plate number block of 8 stamps printed on the TD3-5 press with 1 red line


Cover with a stamp produced on a TD3 press

Here is finally a letter with a stamp stemming from a TD3 press adjacent to a sheet margin with guilloches:

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letter with a stamp coming from a TD3 printing sticking to guilloches (sheet margin)


Postal courses stamps

Postal courses stamps, created in 1911, are stamps intended for the training of postal staff. At first, these stamps were definitives overprinted SPECIMEN. Since 1931, specific stamps (often called fictitious stamps) are used. Until the mid 1980’s, these fictitious stamps had the same size and /or colour as definitive stamps (it is still the case for the green stamp 0,30F Marianne de Cheffer). It is not the case since that time and, in particular, for the stamp 0,50F Marianne de Béquet. We can see below a plate block of a stamp with value 0,50F printed on the press TD3-10 in 1972, which corresponds to the stamp 0,50F Marianne de Béquet, although having neither the same size nor the same colour:

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plate block of 20 fictitious stamps with face value 0,50F printed in 1972


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registered letter with a fictitious stamp with face value 0,50F with a special postmark from Châlons sur Marne’s training center


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