the numerals period, French post offices used a various numbers of date
We can count 7 types for the main post offices and 3 for the post
office station. These date stamps were used successively or
alternately. The advent of a new type did not mean the elimination of
an earlier one.
The types of date stamps are different whether it is assigned to a main
post office or a post office station.
In France and in the 19th century, when a post office was created, it
began its service as a post office station.There are 5 classes of post
office stations. A post office could remain a station for a long time
or could become a main post office.There was 15 classes of main post
Main post offices date stamps:
main post office (in french, "Directions" or "Recettes") can
receive and deliver all types of mail including money.Some main post
offices can control post office stations (in french "Distribution")
type 13 appeared for the first time in 1830; it was an old date stamp
that post offices used during the period of the small numeral cancels.
The type 13 was able to be used only or at the same time as the type 15.
was delivered in post offices in 1836. One stopped using it in NORD in
October, 1855. This extreme date of use can be met for the post office
Type 15 :
type appeared in 1838 and disappeared in Nord at the end of 1869. This
date stamp is much smaller than his predecessors because its diameter
is only 21 mn.Its longevity allowed it to be associated to the small
figures but also to the large figures cancels. The type 15 counts 2
different types; the type 15 with brackets surrounding the department
number (57) and the type 15² without brackets which was for
long time considered as a variant.
Certain offices received both types and the others only one. In NORD,
the post offices of ARMENTIERES , AVESNES SUR HELPE, CONDE SUR
L'ESCAUT, QUESNOY SUR DEULE, ST AMAND LES EAUX received both types and
sometimes used them at the same time or alternately.
The type 15 can be met with the other variants;
July 1868, all the new models of date stamps contained a new
indication; the (mail)collection. This modification can be met as well
for the main post offices as for the post office stations.
The collection number is a important indication for the post users
because at that time one can mail and also receive letters many times a
day. In big cities like LILLE, there were 7 mail collections and
deliveries a day. In smaller cities only 2. At that time, the mail was
delivered on Sunday and also on public holidays and even on Christmas
type 16 has the same dimensions as the type 15. It distinguishes itself
however from this last one by the fact that the number of collection
The type 16 appears in July, 1868 to replace the type 15. It was
delivered to post offices already opened to this date. Certain post
offices received and used at the same time the type 16 and the type 17.
For the the Department of NORD, 48 offices were delivered with the type
As for the type 15, we can notice the variant of district post offices:
type 17 appeared as the type 16 in July 1868. Because of the end of the
manufacture of the type 16, it was delivered to most of the main post
offices created before July 1868 and the totality of those created
later, to September 1875.
The type 17 is bigger (23 mm) and contains the number of collection. It
was used for a long time and even long after March 1876. It longevity
could be compared with the type 15. Certain offices received or used it
There also, we can meet variants of district offices;
This date stamp offers the
peculiarity to have the name of the Department unambiguously rather
than in the form of number.
It appeared in March 1875 and has been used next to the large numerals
during not much time; less than year and even some weeks for certain
post offices .The combination of the type 18 and the large
is relatively difficult to meet in NORD, because this type appears only
in the middle 1875 and only 18 offices used it and half of
from January till February 1876.
declared value date stamp:
stamp was tested in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon from june 1863
and was sent to Departement main cities. This stamps only concerns the
value date stamp
Post office stations date stamps:
post office station always depends on a main post office (and sometimes
on 2). It can only receive and deliver mail.
using date stamps, these post offices used a linear stamp (in french
"cursive"). This postmark showed in italics and in 2 lines the number
of the Departement and the name of the town where the post office is
In NORD, the post office station opened before 1854 used their linear
mark at the latest to February, 1855. Some of these offices used
besides their postmark a dator (type b).This dator was delivered to
post offices in direct correspondence with PARIS. Some offices used 2
linear stamps with different dimensions. These variants did not
normally serve at the same time.
a post office station could not possess 2 linear stamps and if it
should replace a damaged stamp by another one, it should at first send
the first to the Equipment Office in PARIS (Bureau du Materiel). During
the time of the exchange, the post office used a handwritten mark. It
goes without saying that these handwritten marks are even rarer than
the already little common linear stamp for the department NORD.
use of this postmark caused rather fast a waste of time (especially in
the appearance of the postage stamp) for the post office station that
should put on letters at least 2 marks and even 3 for those that had a
dator (the linear stamp, the Small Figures and the dator). Moreover,
the main post office on which depend the post office station
to put its date stamp on these covers.
to spare time on one hand and have a more solid stamp on the other
hand, the type 22 was created and put in service from April 1853.
date stamp appeared in NORD, according to our current knowledge, at
about October, 1853 and disappeared at the beginning of 1870.
The base of this stamp is a type 15 to which one added a dotted ring
(distinctive of delivery offices).
One can meet it associated to Small Figures, Large Figures and more
rarely with the Small Figures of the Large Figures.
a tiny minority of post office stations used this date stamp. In NORD,
only one was equipped with it, it is ANNOEULLIN.
The type 23 was made on a base of type 16 with a dotted ring. It seems
in fact that this stamp was only a quickly abandoned attempt.
was put in service in NORD at the end of 1869. Indeed, it replaced the
type 22 from 1869 and equipped all post office stations created
afterward to October, 1875. From this date, it is the type 25 that
appeared.The type 25 was not used with numerals in NORD.
The use of the type 24 was very sharply slowed down on January 1, 1874
because of the transfer by Decree of the vast majority of the post
office stations in main post offices. By that time, the Administration
asked the post office station to filed for the dotted ring of their
type 24 transforming them in type 17.Therefore, we can meet from
January, 1874 to sometimes later some types 17 in the dimensions of the
it is necessary to clarify that all these date stamps (essentially for
the main post offices) were not systematically used by all the post
offices. Some used only 2 types and the others 5 from 1852 untill 1876.
Big post offices as those of VALENCIENNES or DUNKIRK used 2 types only
(the type 15 and the type 17) .Other, much more modest, as LE CATEAU
used 5 types during this period (the types 14 , 15 , 16, 17 , 18).In
fact, the changes of type were more frequent in the small and average
post offices than in the big ones for the simple reason that the small
offices have generally only a single date stamp in service while the
big, to face mail volumes to be handled, have several duplicates. When
a small office noticed that its unique date stamp deteriorated, it
ordered another copy of the same type of it or a different type if the
first one was not made any more (or not in stock at the Equipment
Bureau). The big post office could take another new date stamp in its
Also, the various types did not systematically succeed one another;
some lived together a few years or a few weeks
How to find informations?
about French numeral cancels and also date stamps are quite easy to
find. Nevertheless, you will have to read several books and catalogues.
- France Oblitérations
1849-1876 : La Poste aux lettres , 17, Fbg Montmartre
- Nomenclature des Bureaux de
Postes Français 1852-1876. Petits et Gros Chiffres
: La Poste aux lettres
- Catalogue des cachets Petits
Chiffres des Gros Chiffres : La Poste aux lettres
spécialisé des grilles et Petits Chiffres des
bureaux de province (1849-1862) : La Poste aux Lettres
- Catalogue des cachets
à date types 11 12 13 14 15 : Jean CHEVALIER
,89 rue de Charenton 75012 PARIS
- Catalogue des cachets
à date types 22 23 24 25 : Jean CHEVALIER ,89
rue de Charenton 75012 PARIS
- Les cachets Gros Chiffres refaits
de France : J. CORNUEJOLS, LE HAVRE 1978
- Le Nord - marques postales
1698-1876: Mrs DUBUS et FREGNAC 1947
- Les timbres à date
manuels des bureaux de poste du département du Nord
1828-1998 : Jacques FOORT , 140 rue de
Roubaix 59240 DUNKERQUE
- Catalogue des
oblitérations Losanges Petits Chiffres et Gros Chiffres pour
le département du Nord (1852-1876) :
Emmanuel LEBECQUE, 59770 MARLY.