Post offices of Nord.
To begin, I shall explain the
administrative organization of France.
This country is divided in
1) Regions; which in turn are divided into
Departments divided into
3) Districts; and further
4) Cities, towns and villages.
"NORD" is one of the many Departments of France. The chief city
in NORD is LILLE.
From a postal history point of view, Nord is one of the most important
Departments. Its geographic location being near Belgium, the North Sea
and the U.K. made that the Post Office progress very quickly.
the birth of the postage stamp to mid-January 1849 , the Post used a
great variety of postmarks to cancel stamps. Starting about the middle
of January, 1849 the first anonymous grill lozenge reached
post offices and continued in use for about 3 years.
Jan 12 1849, the post office of CASSEL did not use the grill
cancellation but instead used its date stamp.
mid January 1849 to December 31 1851, every post offices in France used
the grill lozenge to cancel postage stamps.
in 1851, the Administration decided to update its list of
offices and decided to change means of cancelling.The change was
planned for January 1st, 1852. But due to manufacturing delay, the post
offices used there new small
numeral cancels (In French
"Petits Chiffres") about the second middle of january 1852.This cancel
consisted of a lozenge-shape of dots in the center of which
the number of the post office in the new list of post offices (ancestor
of the zip code).The post offices already existing in 1851 were given a
number in a alphabetical order.The post offices created after
1851 were given number in a chronological order.
After 10 years, a new alphabetic list was made in December 1862. On
this occasion, a new cancelation was born: the large numeral cancel (in
French "Gros Chiffres"). The post offices already existing in 1862 were
assigned a number in a alphabetical order.The post offices
created after 1862 were given number in a chronological order.
We suppose that the date of use had to be January 1, 1863. But some
post offices used it before, in December 1862.
The Administration also asked to exchange their small figures following
the new 1862 list, but this order was respected by only a few post
offices.These numeral cancels could be used in reinforcement or if the
large numerals would be damaged or lost. These cancellations are called
small numerals of the large numerals (in French "Petits Chiffres des
On the other hand, from 1871 (after the French-Prussian war) and the
annexation by Prussia of a part of the eastern departments, the numbers
of the annexed post offices were redistributed in offices recently
created in the rest of the French territory.
In several post offices we can notice large numeral cancels which have
not the same shape than the original copy. These cancels are not
These stamps were cast iron and could not be repaired locally.They were
supplied by the Equipment Bureau in Paris at the request of post
offices (to replace a damaged stamp or to have one of it more).The
Equipment Bureau had at least one replacement large numeral handstamp
in stock. But several times the reserve handstamp had already been sent
to the post office which asked for it and had not been replaced. It was
thus necessary to appeal to a manufacturer (in contract with the Post
Office).There was several manufacturers which worked for the Post
From a manufacturer to the other one, it could have differences in the
handstamps supplied to the Post office. The large numeral cancels which
have different shape of figures are called "remade" ("Refait" en
The French numerals period ended in March 28, 1876, but some post
offices used them after to March 30 from April 5,1876.
The regular ink for these cancellation is black. However, we can find
green, blue en red ink.
In Nord, the green numerals cancels are unknown.
We can very rarely find blue and red Small numeral cancels. The blue
strikes of Large Figures cancels can be met more frequently. Red
strikes are rare. Concerning small numeral of the large numeral colored
strikes are extremly rare.