Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 16, pp6-9 (October 1982)

Copyright notice

French Postal Administration - Postmarks

Postal Agencies

With the exception of Pas de la Casa, which was not opened until 1967, the postal agencies were originally provided with hexagonal date-stamps showing the name of the country as "ANDORRE" only, these corresponding with the first postmark of the capital. All these date-stamps were withdrawn after only a few months service, seemingly in late January or early February 1932, and replaced by new ones showing the name of the country as "VALLEES D'ANDORRE" (abbreviated in the case of Sant Julia de Loria). This action appears to have been taken in view of a ruling made in 1892 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this was the official designation of the country and that the Ministry would recognise no other title. The early postmarks showing the name of the country as "ANDORRE" are extremely rare, and in the case of ORDINO not one example has yet been recorded though it undoubtedly existed. In 1978 the Catalan designation "PRINCIPAT D'ANDORRA" was officially recognised by the French authorities and new cancellers, inscribed accordingly, were provided for use from 2nd January 1979.

Canillo   La Massana   Ordino   Soldeu

These four offices have each been provided with four date-stamps, the periods of use being the same in each case:-

Type 1 16. 6.1931  to January or February 1932
21932  to 31.12.1966
31. 1.1967  to 31.12.1978
42. 1.1979   

Postmarks of Canillo Postmarks of La Massana Postmarks of Ordino Postmarks of Soldeu

Encamp

Five date-stamps have been used by this office:-

Type 116. 6.1931  to January or February 1932
21932  to March 1966
33.1966  to March 1973
43.1973  to 31.12.1978
52. 1.1979   

Postmarks of Encamp

Sant Julia de Loria

This office has used seven different date-stamps:-

Type 116.6.1931  to January or February 1932.
(SAINT is French; JULIA Catalan)
21932  to  somewhere between June 1961 and June 1962.
(French inscription)
31961/62  to 31.12.1966
41. 1.1967  to  (?). Withdrawn before 22.7.1967, apparently because the name of the office was still shown in French instead of in Catalan.
51967  to 1. 4.1977 (Incorrectly inscribed: SAN should be SANT)
62. 4.1977  to 31.12.1978
72. 1.1979   

Postmarks of St Julia

Soldeu

For the periods of use of the four date-stamps, see previous above. The cancelling machine, known technically as a "SECAP, type B.B.", was put into service on the 15th May 1970, the publicity block being to the left of the canceller. The positions of the publicity block and the canceller were reversed in 1972 to comply with French Post Office instructions, the same canceller remaining in use until 31.12.1978, after which it was replaced by the new one showing the name of the country an ANDORRA.

Soldeu machine cancellations

Pas de la Casa

This office was opened on the 1st January 1967 and received two date-stamps, one inscribed "PAS DE LA CASE" (Type1), the other with the correct Catalan inscription "PAS DE LA CASA" (Type 2). The two appear to have been used indiscriminately for some months as although type 1 was in use until March 1968, when it was withdrawn, examples of type 2 are known with earlier dates, the earliest recorded being 15.9.1967. Type 2 was replaced in April 1976 by type 3 which, however, was withdrawn some four months later in view of the erroneous inclusion in its inscription of the code number - "66" - of the neighbouring French département of Pyrenées Orientales. Type 2 was then brought back into service as a temporary measure pending the supply of a new date-stamp (Type 4). The periods of use of the various date-stamps appear to have been approximately as follows:-

Type 11. 1.1967  to 10.3.1968
21967  to  2.4.1976 and
20 8.1976 to September 1976
33. 4.1976  to 19. 8.1976
49.1976  to 31.12.1978
52. 1.1979   

Pas de la Casa cancellations

The cancelling machine was put into service on the 15th May 1970. The notes above in connection with the machine at the soldeu office are equally applicable to this one.

Pas de la Casa machine cancellations

Handstamp used on Registration labels

All the post offices are provided with small handstamps for use on registration labels and other official stationery such as the forms for money orders. These handstamps are sometimes used to cancel unpostmarked stamps (mostly of France) noticed on incoming mail, and the Sant Julia de Loria agency at one time habitually used its handstamp instead of the c.d.s. to cancel postage-due stamps.

Handstamps used on registration labels

The marks illustrated in Row 1 are believed to have been the original ones, used from June 1931. Those of Canillo, La Massana and Ordino still appeared on the registration labels on covers posted in June 1981, at which time Encamp and Soldeu were using a new type incorporating the post-code - Row 2, (e) and (f). All the agencies now have handstamps of this type but these are the only two so far recorded on registration labels. Regarding Sant Julia de Loria, two types of mark have been seen - row 2, (a) and (b) - but it is likely that this office originally had a handstamp inscribed with the name in Catalan ("JULIA") to correspond with the first cancelling date-stamp, and that the French-inscribed handstamp was provided later, possibly in 1932. The second mark illustrated was in use in September 1976 but may date from some years earlier as the Catalan version of the place-name was officially adopted the the postal authorities in 1967. It was still used in June 1981. Finally, Pas de la Casa received two handstamps when it was opened in 1967, both inscribed with the French form of the name - row 2, (c) and (d) - the smaller of the two still being used in June 1981. The larger handstamp was obviously intended for use on forms rather than on registration labels, but it has nonetheless been found on registered mail (of September 1970), struck across the label and onto adjacent portions of the cover.

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Andorran Philatelic Study Circle / Hon. Librarian: E. J. Jewell / apsc@free.fr /
Updated 10 October 2000