BIOGRAPHY: Gaston Gandon

Gaston Gandon, father of the famous French engraver Pierre Gandon, was born in 1872. He was a pupil of Emile Cheffer (father of that other famous engraver, Henry Cheffer) at the Institut de Gravure in Paris. He started out engraving small religious images and ex libris bookplates.

But Gandon had a talent not to ignore and was as it were'destined' for greater things. In the 1920s, he became involved in stamp engraving. There are only a few which carry his name but through various contemporary documents it has been possible to enlarge the list of stamps engraved by him.

The well-known ones are the two stamps Gandon engraved for France, of which his 1936 'Burelé' airmail stamp has achieved worldwide fame. The other French stamp Gandon engraved was the 1939 Strasbourg cathedral stamp. Often overlooked, Gandon also engraved a set of parcel post stamps for France, issued in 1941. Three of the four designs are by his hand and also carry his name.

Gandon's first known stamp engravings were all done for Belgium or its territories. Again, we find well-known stamps among his work. Gandon engraved the three recess-printed designs for the 1928 Orval issue, depicting the Abbey, Duchess Mathilde and a Cistercian monk. In 1932, he engraved the Cardinal Mercier stamp, the top value from the issued set.  Furthermore he engraved the 1f75 value depicting St Gudule Cathedral, of the 1928 Anti TB Fund set issued in Belgium. For the Belgian Congo Gandon engraved at least the 15c definitive of 1931. It could well be that Gaston engraved more if not all values from this set, but there's no conclusive information on that.

In 1942, Gandon was involved in the Pétain omnibus series which was to appear posthumously. He engraved the stamps for four French colonies: Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Niger and Senegal. All the stamps in that series include the name of Georges-Leo Degorce, next to another engraver's name. It may therefore be assumed that that Degorce engraved Pétain's profile, which is identical on each and every issue, with the other engravers (among whom Gaston) engraving the vignette.

Finally, Gandon was involved in the project of engraving the souvenir stamps for the 1941 philatelic exhibition in Paris. He engraved the Ecole Militaire stamp. It was his final work. The sheetlet, which comprised twelve non-postal labels engraved by twelve different engravers, was made available at the exhibition which was held in November 1941.

Whilst the exact date of Gandon Gaston's passing is not known, this final project of his was thought up somewhere in July 1941 and an obituary exists published in a French magazine of 1 December 1941, so Gaston must have passed away in the second half of 1941.

This would, finally, clear up yet another matter: that of Pierre's signature appearing under Gaston's engraved die proof of that Ecole Militaire stamp. Gaston must have passed away before being able to sign these die proofs which, I presume, were made available at the exhibition. All the other engravers signed theirs, so son Pierre must have stepped in for this particular one.

You will find Gaston Gandon's database HERE.

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