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Alsace and Lorraine were occupied by the Germans in the French- German war of 1870-1871. Some stamps with inscription 'POSTES', the value and 'CENTIMES' were issued. For political reasons no country name was indicated. Be aware: many forgeries and reprints exist! Before 1870 French stamps were issue, later German stamps were used, examples:

('4345' large french numeral cancel 'Wissembourg' on cover with french 20 c Napoleon stamp, 1868)

(So called 'Hufeisenstempel' or Horseshoe cancel of Strassburg on two stamps of Germany)

(Strassburg Elsass Ruprechtsau cancel on a normal German stamp, 1898)

1870 Perforated

Genuine, Points down Genuine? 25 c brown, lines pointing up in background

  1 Centimes green
  2 Centimes brown
  4 Centimes grey
  5 Centimes green
  10 Centimes brown
  20 Centimes blue
  25 Centimes brown

For the specialist: there are two ways the wavy background lines are printed on the stamps, one with the lines pointing upwards and on with the lines pointing downwards.

(Front and backside of the 5 c stamp)

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare

Wavy background pointing upwards

1 c****** 
2 c****** 
4 c****** 
5 c****** 
10 c**** 
20 c***** 
25 cR*** 

Wavy background pointing downwards

1 cRRRR 
2 cRRRR 
4 cRR 
10 cR** 
20 cRRR 


All values** 


(Special fieldpost cancel 'K:PR:FELDPOST RELAIS')


These reprints were made with the original background pattern, however the text was newly made. They were made in Hamburg. Reprints can be recognized by the position of the 'P' of 'POSTES', if we draw a line connecting the upper left corner of the containing rectangle to the lower right corner, the line should go through the bottom part of the 'P'. However, in the reprints it will go through just below the center of the 'P'.

1 c green 2 c brown 4 c grey 5 c green 10 c brown 20 c blue 25 c brown, lines pointing down in background

20 c blue

(Reprint with a forged cancel?)

Fournier forgeries:

The Fournier forgeries exist with forged cancels. One forged cancel on these forgeries is known to be easily detectable: "Urbeis 31 2 71 2-3N", this can never be a genuine cancel, since February never has 31 days! (I have never seen this date on his forgeries myself). The perforation in the corners is not perfect in the Fournier forgeries. Furthermore, according to 'The Forged Stamps of all Countries' by J.Dorn, the wavy background patterns are not as parallele as in the genuine stamps and the patterns they form are also slightly different.

Fournier took great pride in his forgery of the 4-centime stamp of Alsace and Lorraine, the variety with figure displaced to the left, and vertical bar at the top of the T of "centimes." He himself considered it to be one of his 'masterpieces' (this text is translated from Serranne, in the french introduction of 'The Fournier album of philatelic forgeries').

The following cancels can be found in 'The Fournier album of philatelic forgeries' (I have not yet seen any Fournier forgery with any of these cancels by the way):

(Reduced sizes)

The following cancels can also be found in this album, but I think they were used on telegraphic stamps of France instead (the date is 1869!):

(Reduced sizes)

Modern Hialeah forgeries:

(Hialeah forgeries, reduced size)

The above forgeries are made with a scanner and printer. The printing is very badly done (as the perforation). I've also seen the value 1 c of this particular forgery.

(Mystery stamp, 10 c, no underprint and no 'CENTIMES', attempt for a forgery?)


Inscription 'ELSASS LOTHRINGEN', example:

40 pf black

 40 pf black

I have no information when or why this seal was used (sorry, for the bad quality of the image).

Railway stamps

Reichseisenb. in ElsaB-Lothringen

(Reduced size)

I have seen the following values: 5 p red, 30 p green, 40 p orange, 50 p lilac, 60 p blue, 70 p lilac and 90 p brown. I think these stamps are not very common.

Later Issues

During world war II, some stamps of Germany were overprinted 'Elsaß', example:

Fiscal stamps

Some fiscal stamps were issued in Alsace, after the German occupation of 1870.


1871 Inscription 'DIMENSION REICHS-STEMPEL' with German eagle, value in 'cents' or 'franc'

20 c violet, 50 c brown, 1 F green, 1F50 brown, 2 F blue and 3 F red.


1875 Inscription 'ELSASS-LOTHRINGEN', with German eagle, value in 'PFENNIG' or 'MARK'

(Left: large arms in center with some feathers upwards; right: small arms with all feathers downwards)

16 pf violet, 20 p grey, 40 pf brown, 80 pf green, 1.20 M brown, 1.60 M blue and 2.40 M red. Two slightly different designs seem to exist for all values (except 20 p, for examples see above).



The following values were issued in 1888: 10 p red, 20 p blue, 40 p brown, 50 p brown, and 80 p grey. In 1896 similar stamps (but slightly smaller) were issued in the values: 5 p green, 10 p red, 20 p blue, 40 p violet, 50 p brown and 80 p violet.


Other series exist.

Copyright by Evert Klaseboer

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