Birth of the stamp
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The starting point for the history of the stamp Marianne de Béquet is a precise specification proposed in July, 1970 by the Secretary and the managing director of the French Post Office (we may notice a certain analogy with the English stamps based on the portrait of the Queen, for example the current Machin type series):

On a very dense background, it is necessary to highlight a very large figure, and getting loose a white profile symbol of the Republic, with a vertical line of legend “République Française”.

Pierre Béquet, the only candidate for producing the new stamp with Marianne type, first made eleven sketches on red Canson drawing paper from the drawing of the “Marianne de Cheffer” stamp (the definitive stamp at that time), for studies of formatting (balance between profile, inscriptions and face value). We can see below two of them:

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one of the eleven sketches produced by Pierre Béquet


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one of the eleven sketches produced by Pierre Béquet (Copyright Coll. L’Adresse Musée de La Poste, Paris / La Poste)


These sketches will lead to a first original design kept at the Museum of the French Post office and refused by the postal administration because too much looking like the then used stamp “Marianne de Cheffer”.

Thus the postal administration asked Pierre Béquet for an original drawing. Three studies were performed from the portrait of Pierre Béquet’s wife:

  • Two on tracing paper, one with the profile turned to the right, the other with the profile turned to the left and shown below:
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    study of a profile for his stamp by Pierre Béquet


  • A red gouache made on an A4 size thick cardboard. We can see it below:
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    study of the profile of his Marianne by Pierre Béquet with a red gouache on cardboard

    and the same one presented with a light cardboard mask:

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    the above study with a clean presentation


These studies will allow to reach the original drawing number 2 where Marianne’s face is coloured in white. This original drawing will not either be accepted by the postal administration because this coloured face was considered as preventing the reading of figures. Three drawings on tracing paper were then conducted, leading to the third original design, also refused because the profile was considered as too small.

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drawing on tracing paper number 1 produced by Pierre Béquet


A fourth study on tracing paper will lead to the definitive original design (visible at the Museum of the French Post office) that was accepted on November 5th, 1970:

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accepted original design of the Marianne de Béquet (Copyright Coll. L’Adresse Musée de La Poste, Paris / La Poste)


It may be noted that the locations of the word “POSTES” and of the name of the engraver “BÉQUET” have been exchanged between the original design and the steel die.

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