the beginning of the stamps et for all the 19th century the French
postal Administration feared the reuse of stamp. For the Post Office
depending on the Ministry of Finance La Poste dépendant
l'époque du Ministère des Finances, postal fraud
a great loss of money. To prevent this fraud, the
set up a large number of techniques (special killer, printing
for cancellation, etc.) and a series of penal measures. At
time, postal fraud was considered as an offence liable to a
condemnation. The large numerals cancels allowed to detect more easily
the reuse of stamp already cancelled by comparing the number in the
lozenge of dots and th name of the post office in the date
reuse of stamp was considered as an offence liable to a prosecution in
a criminal court. A person convicted of such fraud was often condemned
for a heavy fine.
Here is a case of such fraud.
from VALENCIENNES to ORCHIES sent on June 24th, 1856. The postal agents
in VALENCIENNES have noticed that the stamp was bearing traces of a
previous cancellation and have indicated it with the statement : "
taxée pour timbre ayant
déjà servi" (taxed for stamp already
letter was considered as unfrancked.
The letter was sent to ORCHIES under registred envelope (envelope
file doesn't contain this envelope anymore.
ORCHIES, a warning letter was sent on June 25th to the adressee,
inviting him to go to the post office to identify this letter. The
privacy of correspondence was sacred. Only in rare conditions, a post
office couldn't open a letter.
the same time, a notice of issue of a letter bearing a presumed
fraudulent postage stamp (form n°1197) has been sent to the
Office in Paris and to the Departemental postal inspector in LILLE.
We are here in a particular case because it is a letter to be given to
a person who is not the adressee.
Mister Durez accepted to go to the post office at the same day. At the
post office, one was waiting for him to fill a the minutes.
Thses minutes were signed by the post office director, Mister Durez,
and an assistant. This assistant must be sworn and belong in
every case to the postal Administration.
The minutes teache us that
the sender was Ms Honorine Chopin, who was living in VALENCIENNES and
working as a servant.
All the elements of the file
were sent to the Departemental postal
inspector in LILLE.
point, the postal procedure ends.
Administration by means of the Departemental postal
inspector has lodge
a complaint with the Imperial Prosecutor of
the District of VALENCIENNES.
complaint ist lodged with the form that follows.
Chopin is summoned to the Police station of VALENCIENNES.
She guarantees that she did not use a stamp that has been an already
cancelled, but she admits having walked on the stamp and would so have
after the sending of the letter, Honorine Chopin appeared in front of
the Magistrates' court of Valenciennes which convicts her of use of a
postage stamp having already served and which condemns her to pay 7,25
fr of fine and legal costs, all this was matched by an imprisonment if
this couldn't be paid. In this time, 7,25 fr represented a very big
amount of money for a servant.