Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hermes, son of Ceres

Prepared by Désiré-Albert Barre, the first postage stamp issue of Greece share a graphic genealogy with the first of France, dranw and engraved by his father, Jacques-Jean Barre.

Thank to a well-narrated study, Louis Fanchini completed the genealogy with essays made in the late 1850s. Fanchini, a classical Greek philatelist, wrote starting with Désiré-Albert Barre's ("Barre fils" as often written in France) works for the Commission of money. His article is published in the last issue of Documents philatéliques, the Académie de philatélie's review, dated 4th trimester 2008.

Anatole Hulot, then director of the postage stamp fabrication, was judged too expensive by the French postal administration. Either to create competition, or to made him cut down his prices, the commission of money ordered Barre fils typographical plates with the Ceres design with the help of a new method that can compete with Hulot's galvanoplasty. The "frappe directe au balancier monétaire", used for coinage. The director finally accepted to cut down his printing prices, but Barre's method was ready.

In the beginning of the 1860s, while Hulot and Barre fils had not already been the best friends in the world, Hulot was late to deliver the new Greek stamp plate (a little bit caused by the engraver... guess who?). And Barre fils won the market to produce the plates and the first printing of the Hermes stamps.

I barely summarized this sixteen page study, far more extended than the Hulot-Barre fils rivalry: my discovery of the "balancier monétaire" (a reedition may include an illustration of this apparat), role of printer Ernest Meyer, invention by Barre fils of the value printed on the back of the stamp, etc.

Good reading (in French) and thank to the author.

Reference : Louis Fanchini, « Les essais "Cérès 1858". Pourquoi font-ils partie intégrante de la philatélie grecque ? » [The "Ceres 1858" essays. Why are they entirely part of the Greek philately?], Documents philatéliques #198, Académie de philatélie, 4th trimester 2008, pages 3 to 18.
Regularly quoted in this study, a ressource directly available on the web: the Large Head Hermes stamp specialised site by Louis Basel (in English).

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