Saturday, 6 April 2013

GANDON, Pierre

Pierre Gandon (1899-1990) holds the dubious distinction of having had the most remarkable career in stamp engraving, a career which nearly didn’t materialise at all for being branded a collaborator.

It all started innocuously enough with a father who was also an engraver (father Gaston Gandon even engraved two French stamps) which led son Pierre to go to the École Estienne and later the Parisian School of Arts, like other French stamp engravers had done before him and since.

After having reacted to an advertisement in the papers, Pierre Gandon entered the world of stamp engraving in 1941, having had his work for a Dahomey definitive set accepted. In that same year, his first engraved stamp for France appeared as well: the 1fr + 9fr National Seamen’s Relief Fund stamp. This stamp was soon followed by the first stamp which was also designed by him: the 3fr + 5fr value of the National Relief Fund, depicting the Coat of Arms of the City of Reims.

Unfortunately for him, the French Post Office was run by the Vichy Government and that turned him into a persona non grata after the Second World War. And not just because he was accused of having opted to work for the Vichy Government, but he was also responsible for some of the most blatantly pro-Vichy propaganda stamps issued in that time, such as the Tricolour Legion issue of 1942 and the National Relief Fund stamp of 1943, which was meant to condemn the Allied bombardments of French cities. Gandon was therefore blacklisted and given no further stamp assignments after the war. Gandon didn’t give up that easily, though, and resorted to submitting a few designs under someone else’s name. One of those even got issued, the Sarah Bernhardt stamp of 1945, which duly, though wrongly, denotes C. Mazelin as the engraver.

However, as luck would have it, before he was told he could no longer work for the French Post Office, Gandon had been allowed to submit a design for a future definitive set, portraying Marianne. Not aware of it being Gandon’s work, General de Gaulle chose his design as being by far the best. A delicate situation arose which was eventually resolved by accepting the inevitable and going ahead with Gandon’s design.

The Marianne de Gandon was an instant hit among the French, and that probably saved Gandon’s fate. He was pardoned, welcomed back and given the opportunity to blossom. In the next four decades he designed and engraved well over 300 stamps for France alone, and many more for the French territories.

His work was adored by the great and good, and he received the coveted Grand Prix de l’Art Philatélique no less than four times. Among his stamps honoured was one of his first stamps for the first instalment of the ‘French Art’ series in 1961, the 85c depicting Cézanne’s Card Players.

There was no end to the admiration for Gandon’s work, and this culminated in him being granted the opportunity to design three (!) Marianne definitives: Marianne de Gandon from 1945 was his first, with the higher values also being engraved by him (the lower values were printed in letterpress). She was followed by the recess-printed Sabine de Gandon in 1977, designed and engraved by Gandon, and although officially not a Marianne, she is normally included in the Marianne category. Gandon’s final Marianne was the Liberté de Gandon from 1982, which Gandon designed and engraved when he was 83 years old!

A year later, in 1983, Gandon was to design and engrave his final stamp, no. 346 for France, the ‘Stamp Day’ issue, which was based on Rembrandt’s work ‘Man Dictating Letter’.

This article was first published in Stamp and Coin Mart of November 2012 and is reproduced with their kind permission.


French Morocco, Definitives

Togo, Definitives
Togo, Postage dues

Dahomey, Definitives
France, National Seamen's relief fund
France, National relief fund

France, Marshal Pétain
France, Empire fortnight
France, National relief fund
France, Tricolour legion
Monaco, Airmail
Monaco, National relief fund

France, Lake Lérie
France, National Relief Fund

France, Petain's birthday
France, National relief fund
France, Liberation
France, Mobile POs
Monaco, St Devote

France, Marianne definitives
France, Sarah Bernhardt
French Morocco, Air

France, Air
France, Peace conference
France, National relief fund
Monaco, Child welfare fund

France, Air
France, Cannes
France, UPU congress
France, Conques abbey
French Equatorial Africa, Definitives
French Guiana, Definitives
French Morocco, Definitives
French West Africa, Definitives

France, Air (2 issues)
France, Transfer of ashes
French Morocco, Solidarity fund
French Morocco, Lyautey exhibition
French Morocco, Naval charities
French Polynesia, Definitives
Monaco, Olympic games

Algeria, Air
France, Workers
France, Polar expeditions
France, Stamp centenary
France, Franco-American amity
France, Views
France, CITT Paris
French Morocco, Definitives
French Morocco, Air
Monaco, UPU

France, Raymond Poincaré
France, Charles Péguy
France, Chateaudun
French Morocco, Definitives

France, Views
France, De la Salle
France, M. Noguès
France, Chateau Clos-Vougeot
French Morocco, Definitive
Laos, Definitives, King Sisavang Vong design
Monaco, Holy year
Monaco, Radio station
Monaco, Seal of prince

France, Chambord
France, National relief fund
Madagascar, Definitives
Saar, Olympics
Saar, National relief fund 

Cameroun, Definitive
France, Industry and literary figures
French Equatorial Africa, Air
Monaco, Olympics
Monaco, Journal Inédit
Monaco, Postage dues
New Caledonia, French administration
Saar, Fair
Saar, Red cross
Saar, National relief fund

Comoro Islands, Definitive
France, Air
Madagascar, Marshal Lyautey
Monaco, De La Salle (1)
Tunisia, Air
Tunisia,  Definitives

Algeria, Grande Kabylie
France, Industry and literary figures
France, Inventors
France, Maryse Bastié
French Equatorial Africa, Air
French Morocco, Rotary international
French Morocco, Definitive
French Polynesia, Definitives
Monaco, Dr. Schweitzer
Monaco, Air
Monaco, Jules Verne
Tunisia, International Fair

France, Scientists
France, Sports
France, Technical achievements
France, Pigeon fanciers
Monaco, Philatelic exhibition
Saar, National relief fund
Tunisia, Definitives
Tunisia, Labour day
Tunisia, Products

France, Air 500f
France, Thénard
French Equatorial Africa, Lions definitive
Monaco, Birth of Princess Caroline
Togo, Definitives
Tunisia, Fifth congress of international confederation of free trade unions
Tunisia, Fifth international fair

France, Stamp day
France, Europa
France, WW1 armistice
France, Air 1000f
French West Africa, Centenary of Dakar
Monaco, Air
Monaco, Virgin Mary
Tunisia, Brussels international exhibition
Tunisia, First anniversary of proclamation of Tunisian republic

Central African Republic, First anniversary of republic
France, Flower festival
France, Stamp day
France, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
France, Air 300f
Laos, Monuments
Mali Federation, Establishment
Monaco, UNESCO building
Monaco, Flowers
New Caledonia, Definitives
Niger Republic, Definitives
Togo, Definitives
Tunisia, 25th anniversary of Neo-Destour party and victory congress
Tunisia, Definitives

Benin, Independence proclamation
Central African Republic, Butterflies and birds
France, Air
France, Tourism
France, Nature protection
France, Bird migration
Malagasy Republic, Butterflies
Monaco, Definitive
Monaco, Olympics
Monaco, Postage due
Morocco, 900th anniversary of Marrakesh
Morocco, Olympic games
New Caledonia, Postal centenary
Tunisia, Fourth Arab scout jamboree
Vietnam, Family code

Andorra (French), Definitives
Central African Republic, Opening of Pasteur Institute Bangui
France, Thann
France, Art
French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Jean Charcot
Gabon, Birds
Malagasy Republic, Lemurs
Mali Republic, Air
Monaco, Aquariological congress
Monaco, Nature preservation
Monaco, Motor cars
Niger, definitive
Senegal, Independence commemoration
Tunisia, National day

France, Ski championships
France, Rose culture
France, Art
Monaco, Europa
Monaco, Birds protection
New Caledonia, Air

France, Art
France, Paris postal conference
France, Water-skiing championships
France, Philatec 1964
Mali Republic, Fauna protection
Monaco, Children's charter
Monaco, Red cross
Monaco, Football association
Niger Republic, Groundnut cultivation campaign
St. Pierre et Miquelon, Albert Calmette

Algeria, Nubian monuments preservation
Central African Republic, Olympic games Tokyo
Comoro Islands, Philatec 1964
Congo, Folklore and tourism
France, Art
France, Night airmail service
French Polynesia, Philatec 1964
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Philatec 1964
Ivory Coast, Nubian monuments preservation
Monaco, Monte Carlo Rally
Monaco, Aerial rally
New Caledonia, Corals and Marine Animals (postage 7f,10f,17f, airmail 13f, 15f, 25f)
New Caledonia, Philatec
St. Pierre et Miquelon, Philatec

Cameroun, Opening of Mbanga-Kumba railway
Chad, Native musical instruments
Congo, 22nd anniversary of Brazzaville Conference
France, Air
France, Red cross
France, Art
France, Tourism
Ivory Coast, ITU centenary
Ivory Coast, Air
Lebanon, Definitives
Malagasy Republic, ITU centenary
Malagasy Republic, Postal transport
Mauritania, Tourism and archaeology
Senegal, Rural development

Cameroun, Cameroun armed forces
Chad, Prehistoric implements
Congo, Sports
Congo, Masks
France, Art
France, Mont St Michel
France, Academy of sciences
Ivory Coast, Stamp day
Mauritania, Early aircraft
Monaco, Monte Carlo
Monaco, UNESCO
Monaco, WHO headquarters
Senegal, World festival of negro arts
Senegal, 30th anniversary of disappearance of Jean Mermoz
Wallis & Futuna Islands, South pacific games

Cambodia, Royal Ballet
France, Art
France, Robert Esnault-Pelterie
France, Red cross
French Polynesia, July festival
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Fauna
Malagasy Republic, History of aviation
Monaco, Paintings
New Caledonia, Lekiné Cliffs
New Caledonia, Garnierite Industry
Senegal, Sixth pan-African prehistory congress

Central African Republic, Marie Curie commemoration
France, Larousse
France, Airmail service
France, Salonika front armistice
France, Western front armistice
France, Red cross
Mali Republic, 20th anniversary of WHO
Mali Republic, World twin towns day
Monaco, Olympics
Monaco, Nullius diocesis abbey
Monaco, J. F. Bosio
Niger Republic, 35th anniversary of first France-Niger airmail service

France, Tourism
France, Art
France, Resistance and liberation
France, Red cross

France, Marshal Juin
France, Art
France, Red cross
Monaco, Animal protection federation
Monaco, Horses
Monaco, First Mediterranean flight
Monaco, Beethoven
Upper Volta, 25th anniversary of UN
Upper Volta, Paris motor show

France, Air pioneers
France, Art
France, Red cross
Laos, Wild animals
Monaco, Blood donors
Senegal, World telecommunications day
Upper Volta, World telecommunications day

France, Art
France, Tourism
France, Red cross
Ivory Coast, Lake dwellings Bletankoro
Mali Republic, The seven wonders of the ancient world
Monaco, Birth anniversaries
Monaco, Battle of Lepanto
Niger Republic, 50th death anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell
Senegal, Senegalese elegance

France, Art
France, technical achievements
France, red cross
Monaco, Birth anniversaries
Monaco, Princes and princesses

France, Arphila 75
Ivory Coast, Centenary of UPU
Monaco, Guglielmo Marconi
Monaco, The Impressionists
Monaco, Numismatic art

France, Red cross
France, Georges Pompidou
Monaco, Louis de Saint-Simon
Monaco, Dr Albert Schweitzer
Monaco, JP Delmas de Grammont
Monaco, Musicians
New Caledonia, Pompidou
Niger Republic, National tree week

France, Philatelic societies
France, Red cross
French Polynesia, Georges Pompidou
Monaco, Literary council
Monaco, Marie de Rabutin Chantal
St. Pierre et Miquelon, Pompidou

Andorra (French), Institutions
Cameroon, First death anniversary of Mao-Tse-Toung
France, Definitives
France, Art
France, Red cross
Monaco, Carriere d'un navigateur
Monaco, Friends of children
Monaco, Peter Paul Rubens

France, Printing office
Monaco, Antonio Vivaldi

France, Mushrooms
France, Philatelic creations
Monaco, Salle Garnier

Andorra (French), Europa
France, Art
Monaco, Europa, 1f30 value
Monaco, Postage dues
Monaco, Montaigne's essays

France, Definitives 

France, Definitives
Monaco, Christmas

France, Stamp day

Monaco, Gargantua

France, NVI definitive

France, Philexfrance 89

France, Philexfrance 89

Monaco, Grimaldi dynasty


France, Parcel post stamps
France, Legion of French Volunteers stamp

France, Napoleon's tomb cinderella for Paris stamp show

France, Louis XIV and The Academy cinderella for Paris stamp show

France, Louise cinderella for Paris stamp show

Label for Lille Textile Exhibition

Label for Strasbourg Philatelic Exhibiton and Centilux Luxembourg

Label for 'Le faux dans l'art et l'histoire' exhibition in Grand Palais, Paris

'La Place de Furstenberg' engraving for Ceux qui créent nos timbres booklet

Jacques Cartier test stamp for Marinoni

Snake in tree test stamp for Marinoni

France, Alfred Sisley philatelic document 

France, Robert Schuman philatelic document
France, Edmond Michelet philatelic document

France, Imprimerie nationale philatelic document

France, Unadopted die essay for French-American friendship stamp
Estienne test stamp for Chambon
Palissy test stamp for Chambon
Papilio supremus test stamp for Atelier du Timbre


Racine portrait in book 'Abrege de l'Histoire de Port Royal' (2)

La Bruyere portrait in book 'Les Characteres de Theophraste' (2)

Engraved book illustrations for 'Le Souper des Petits-Maitres' (2)

Portrait of Robert Cavelier de Lassale (2)

Benjamin Constant portrait in book 'Adolphe' (2)

Thomas Hardy portrait in book 'Tess d'Urberville' (2)

Portrait of Albert Samain in book 'Au jardin de l'enfante' (2)

(1) Collecting by engraver - Stampcommunity website
(2) website


  1. Hi Adrian,
    I have a question - potentially silly. Did Gandon actually engrave any of the Marianne stamps?

  2. No question is ever silly! And the answer is yes, he engraved all three of his own Mariannes. Note, though, that the low values (except for a few in a slightly larger format) of the 1945 set were not recess-printed and not engraved by him. Those beautiful large format Mariannes of that 1945 set were enrgaved by him.
    Basically, all issues in this list are all his engravings, I don't keep track of what he (or others for that matter) designed, it's all just engravings.

    1. Cool. Thanks! So in 1945 he engraved the large format stamp that was issued in four values. Is that right? I haven't studied the other two types yet, so I may have more questions lol. Slowly learning.

    2. Yes, the large format stamps he engraved are the 20f, 25f, 50f and 100f.
      The small format stamps you see all the time are mostly the ones printed in typo, which include the name of Cortot in the bottom right hand corner. There are a few engraved (by Gandon) and recess-printed small format stamps. These are the 4f blue, 10f blue, 15f purple, 20f blue-green and the 25f scarlet. These naturally don't mention the name of Cortot, and instead the name Gandon can be found in the bottom right-hand corner. Finally, there is the 1949 French stamp centenary issue, a strip of stamps including two Mariannes engraved by Gandon. The other stamps, in the Ceres design, are also engraved by him so you may as well get the whole strip!

  3. Hi Adrian,
    I'm not sure if you add Postage Dues to your lists, but I found a set of 10 issued by Togo in 1940 des. & eng, by Gandon. "Native Masks"


    1. Thanks for bringing that to my notice. I must have inadvertedly skipped that set when I did Togo. Will add it straightaway.

  4. Hi Adrian,
    I've been looking at the Phil-ouest site at Gandon;s stamps and I've found something that confuses me a bit. It has the 5f Petain green-blue as engraved by Gandon, but the name on the stamp is Mazelin. Is this another stamp like the Sarah Bernhart r is it a phil-ouest error?


    1. I would think it's a Philouest error. All my other sources (including the ones which get the Sarah Bernhardt stamp credits right) state Mazelin as the engraver. The Bernhardt confusion only happened after the war when Gandon was blacklisted for a couple of months. This Pétain stamp is from 1942 so is not linked to that situation.

    2. Thanks Adrian! I thought that was probably the case since I've noticed a couple of other small errors at Philouest. I just wanted to check it to be sure.