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France: Seeds of an idea

France: Seeds of an idea

They were far from universally popular when they first appeared in 1903, but in a 35-year lifespan France's Sower definitives won their place in collectors' affections

France: Femme fatale?

France: Femme fatale?

Critics in France thought the 1900 'Mouchon' definitive design appeared to promise a liaison dangereuse, but that didn't stop it becoming a workhorse of colonial mail

The Italian Machin

The Italian Machin

The Siracusana series broke with tradition by offering Italians a single-design definitive range, and its popularity is reflected in its impressive 35-year lifespan

West Germany: Fresco fiasco

West Germany: Fresco fiasco

When West Germany showed a medieval fresco on a stamp, nobody realised that portions of it were badly forged and depicted 20th-century celebrities!

France: Divine intervention

France: Divine intervention

When the winner of a prestigious French stamp design competition was found to be ineligible as a wartime collaborator, the authorities collaborated with him anyway!

Switzerland: Into the Modern World

Switzerland: Into the Modern World

Switzerland's eye-catching second series of Landscapes definitives, which lasted a decade from 1949, showed distinctly modern views of the country's age-old scenery

Monaco: Refreshing Rainier

Monaco: Refreshing Rainier

Monaco always produced classy definitives under Prince Rainier III's expert eye, and a revaluation of the currency added extra interest to the popular 1955 series

Denmark: Permanent wave

Denmark: Permanent wave

In use for more than a century and offering huge variety, Denmark's 'Wavy Lines' are a great place to start collecting European definitives

West Germany: Feminine touch

West Germany: Feminine touch

West Germany's Famous Women definitive series bridged the reunification of the country and the adoption of the Euro, bringing recess printing into the 21st century

The Netherlands: The furry Queen

The Netherlands: The furry Queen

The first Queen Wilhelmina definitives of the Netherlands, known as the Fur Collar issue, endured a difficult development but enjoyed a 25-year lifespan

France: That sinking feeling

France: That sinking feeling

A sabre-rattling piece of French philatelic propaganda in 1939 backfired when a mighty battleship was misrepresented - and ended up in the service of the enemy

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Profusion of perforations

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Profusion of perforations

Bosnia & Herzegovina's 1906 Landscapes definitives combine beauty with beastly complexity, with almost 2,500 varieties to be found. Are you up for a challenge?

Austria: About face

Austria: About face

Austria's 'Emperor's Head' definitive series of 1890-1908 became increasingly complex as the authorities struggled to settle on the best way to combat fraud

Belgium: The soldier king

In the aftermath of World War I, Belgium's defiant definitives of 1919 portrayed King Albert I in a most unregal manner, wearing a tin hat instead of a crown

Albania: All-time hero

Albania: All-time hero

In 1913, Albania's first definitives invoked the medieval warrior who defined the national identity. But copious overprints betrayed the new state's chronic instability

Germania mania

A snap decision by a distracted Kaiser instigated Germany's most celebrated definitive issue, which would produce many fascinating varieties

Top 5 Europe

West Germany: Fresco fiasco

When West Germany showed a medieval fresco on a stamp, nobody realised that portions of it were badly forged and depicted 20th-century celebrities!

France: Divine intervention

When the winner of a prestigious French stamp design competition was found to be ineligible as a wartime collaborator, the authorities collaborated with him anyway!

The Italian Machin

The Siracusana series broke with tradition by offering Italians a single-design definitive range, and its popularity is reflected in its impressive 35-year lifespan

France: Seeds of an idea

They were far from universally popular when they first appeared in 1903, but in a 35-year lifespan France's Sower definitives won their place in collectors' affections

France: Femme fatale?

Critics in France thought the 1900 'Mouchon' definitive design appeared to promise a liaison dangereuse, but that didn't stop it becoming a workhorse of colonial mail

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