World Stamps

Unissued French colonial airmail stamp offers great bang for your buck

May 2, 2021, 3 PM
The unissued French India 3-rupie Temple of Chindambaram airmail stamp is a good buy in mint never-hinged condition in the $7-to-$10 price range.

Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

French colonial issues are a popular collecting area. The classic era (1840-1940) stamps have broad appeal and newer issues feature high design and production values and often depict popular topics.

French India is in some ways a forgotten colony, overshadowed as it was by the sprawling magnificence of the British raj. The colony consisted of the scattered enclaves of Pondichery, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahe, and Chandernagor. France also maintained several trading posts, called lodges, with extraterritorial rights in some Indian cities.

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Altogether, French India had a total land area of about 200 square miles with a population of about 330,000. After Indian independence in 1947, France began ceding its lodges and later its territories to India. India took de facto possession of all remaining French territories in India on Nov. 1, 1954, although the transfer of the territories was not formally ratified by the French parliament until 1962.

In 1948, French India prepared a 3-rupie Temple of Chindambaram airmail stamp. The stamp was sold at the Paris post office July 7-8, 1948, but was never issued in the colony. The temple featured in the design is a Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in the present day Tamil Nadu state.

The unissued airmail stamp is noted and valued at $10 in mint never-hinged condition in the 2018 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. The stamp is popular with collectors of religion on stamps as well as French colonies and India collectors. It is not a difficult stamp to find, but it is a good buy in mint never-hinged condition in the $7-to-$10 price range.