Tuesday, 18 June 2019

France 1979 - Tourism Series (Part 4)

Ever wondered what a stamp would look like as a playing card? This is a question French stamp engraver and designer, Pierre Forget, set out to answer in 1979 to commemorate Norman abbeys. Two abbeys were chosen for this cutting edge stamp design: the Abbey of St-Pierre-sur-Dives and Bernay Abbey. Without further ado, let us delve...


Its stunning towers loom large over the sleepy town of St-Pierre-sur-Dives. The Abbey of St-Pierre-sur-Dives, Abbaye Saint-Pierre sur Dives, was founded in the 11th century by Countess Lesceline, who happened to be the great-aunt of William the Conqueror. It was originally built to house a community of nuns. At some point over the course of the next century, the nuns were replaced by Benedictine monks from the Abbey of the Holy Trinity in Rouen. The abbey as it stands today is very different from its original design. It was rebuilt between the 13th and 15th centuries, during a time known as the Gothic period. Having said this, the church still contains the tomb of its founder, Countess Lesceline.

Bernay Abbey, Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bernay was founded in the 11th century by Judith of Brittany. Judith was the daughter of Conan I of Rennes and wife of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. The original design was ahead of its time, being one of the first examples of Romanesque architecture in Normandy. The church was listed as an historic monument in 1862.


On 9 July, 1979, France issued a set of seven stamps in their ongoing Tourism series. To read the previous three parts, simply click on the relevant link. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. In this blog I'll take a close look at the 1,00 stamp, which depicts both Abbey of St-Pierre-sur-Dives and Bernay Abbey in a funky playing card style. This stamp was designed and engraved by Pierre Forget. 

This stamp is truly fantastic. The top half commemorates Abbey St-Pierre-sur-Dives. At the bottom of the stamp, in the inverted style of a playing card graphic, is a representation of Barney Abbey. Aside from the glorious engravings of the church interiors, this stamp has a couple of other interesting features. If you look to the top right, you will come across this...

Forget has ingeniously added the letter N for Normandy in theform of a vault in the ceiling. Below this we see the letters AA forming a cross with a Cross of the Abbey,. The AA stands for A year of Abbeys. Pretty cool.

Until next time...

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