Stamps of 2023: France (January 2023)

La Poste has announced its first several issues for 2023, four in January and three so far in February. The four issues scheduled for January include a total of twenty-two stamps as detailed below.

Jan. 6, 2023

Between Heaven and Earth

France’s first issue of 2023 is a set of 12 stamps titled “Between Heaven and Earth” illustrating rainbows around the world. The agency Eighth Day created a layout using photographs of rainbow landscapes in Zimbabwe, England, France, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, Germany, Poland, French Polynesia, Denmark, Italy and Iceland.

A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicolored circular arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the Sun. Rainbows can be full circles. However, the observer normally sees only an arc formed by illuminated droplets above the ground and centered on a line from the Sun to the observer’s eye.

In a primary rainbow, the arc shows red on the outer part and violet on the inner side. This rainbow is caused by light being refracted when entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it. In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc, and has the order of its colors reversed, with red on the inner side of the arc. This is caused by the light being reflected twice on the inside of the droplet before leaving it.





South Africa




French Polynesia




The graphic design for this issue was done by Agence Huit Jour with most of the images coming from Getty Images (123 FR is responsible for Canada, Look Photos provided the pictures for the Poland and French Polynesia stamps while the Iceland stamp is by Arnaud Bertrande of The booklet measures 256 x 54 mm with the 12 self-adhesive stamps sized at 38 x 24 mm. They were printed using the rotogravure process in a print run of 4,000,000 stamps each with a face value of €1.16 (Green Letter). The total sale price of the booklet is €13.92.

The initial sale of the booklet will be on Friday, January 6 and Saturday, January 7 at Le Carré d’Encre, 13bis rue des Mathurins, 75009 PARIS, from 10am to 7pm with postmarking until 5pm. The general sale in all post offices will begin on Monday, January 9.

Jan. 14, 2023

Year of the Rabbit

France’s Lunar New Year stamps for 2023 will be released on January 14. The rabbit (兔) is the fourth in the twelve-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Rabbit is associated with the Earthly Branch symbol 卯. The year 2023 is a year of the Water Rabbit, starting from January 22 (Chinese New Year), and ending on February 9, 2024 (Chinese New Year’s Eve). The sign of the rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture and 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope. People born in the year of the rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded, and ingenious. The most compatible zodiac signs for rabbits are goats, dogs, and pigs.

The graphic design for these stamps is by Chen Jiang Hong while the layout is by Bruno Ghiringhelli. The pink €1.16 stamp pays the domestic rate while the blue €1.80 is for international letters. They are printed in sheets of five stamps per design with four of the stamps in each sheet measuring 29 x 35 mm and one at 33 x 40 mm. The sheets themselves each measure 94 x 175 mm.

The stamps were printed using photogravure in a print run of 380,000 sheets of each design, perforated 13. The first day sales will be at the “Carré d’encre” 13 bis rue des Mathurins 75009 Paris, on Saturday, January 14. Chen Jiang Hong will be present for a signing session from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The general sale will commence on Monday, January 16.

Jan. 20, 2023

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela will be honored with a single stamp from France to be issued on January 20, marking ten years since his death. Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid activist who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

He became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party’s white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, Mandela and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in 1961 he led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and, following the Rivonia Trial, was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure and fears of racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. He declined a second presidential term and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Globally regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Thembu clan name, Madiba, and described as the “Father of the Nation”.

The 2023 French Nelson Mandela stamp was designed by Christian Guémy (alias C215) and engraved by Elsa Catelin. The layout is by Bruno Ghiringhelli. It measures 30 mm x 40.85 mm and was printed using a combination of intaglio and offset lithography in green gray and black. The print run was 600,000 copies in sheets of 15 stamps, perforated 13.It has a denomination of €1.80, the international priority rate for letters up to 20g. First day of issue sales on Friday, January 20 will include a signing session by the designer.

There is also a “philatelic souvenir” folder containing a 200 x 95 mm sheet with one impression of the stamp, perforated 13, in the center. There were 25,000 copies of this available on the first day of issue.

Jan. 27, 2023

St. Valentine’s Day

The Agnès b. brand is illustrated on two heart designs to be issued on January 27 for the 2023 St. Valentine’s Day issue. The layout by Aurélie Baras features lyrics from the song “Amour, amour,” written by Jacques Demy and Peau d’âne, in 1970. Launched by the stylist Agnès Troublé, the brand “agnès b.” has embodied for more than 40 years the Parisian style par excellence, both modern and crossing the ages. Founded in 1975, agnès b. has been working since its inception for committed, sustainable and responsible fashion. The preservation of know-how and the manufacture in France are all values dear to the stylist who never ceases to perpetuate them through its collections. Patron and collector, agnès b. also supports creation artistic in all its forms, solidarity and the environment. In 2009, the stylist chose to create an endowment fund in order to structure the sponsorship, partnership and philanthropy actions that she personally supports.

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

“St. Valentine” painting on the secondary altar (XVIII-XIXth) in the Chapelle Notre-Dame d’Altbronn d’Ergersheim at Alsace, Bas-Rhin, France. Photographed on August 8, 2016, by Ralph Hammann.

There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century. According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution; another tradition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.

Cotton and paper Valentine’s Day card, circa 1860-1880, in the Museum of London.

The 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary recorded the celebration of the Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the “lovebirds” of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Italy, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).

Saint Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in any country, although it is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day on July 6 in honor of Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and on July 30 in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).

There are two designs in different denominations — €1.16 and €2.32 — in both gummed and self-adhesive varieties. The gummed stamps were printed in sheets of 12 stamps per value, perforated 13. There were 1,500,000 of the €1.16 and 700,000 of the €2.32 stamp printed. These stamps measure 38 mm x 38 mm each and the full sheets are 143 x 185 mm.

The self-adhesive stamps also measure 38 x 38 mm each with 700,000 copies of each denomination printed in sheets of 30 stamps. They are die-cut 13. Finally, a miniature sheet containing five copies of the self-adhesive €1.16 value was printed in a quantity of 400,000 and measures 135 x 143 mm.

The stamps will receive their initial sale on Friday, January 27, 2023, in Paris at the “Carré d’encre”, 13 bis rue des Mathurins with the general sale beginning Monday, January 30.

One thought on “Stamps of 2023: France (January 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

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