"Après le départ" stamp

We do not know the exact date of introduction of the “Après le départ" postmark in the equipment inventory of post office in the departments. All we know is that it appeared at the beginning of 1850 in PARIS and at the beginning of 1854 in the larger provincial post offices.

Its function was to indicate that a letter had been mailed after the last collection of the post office's boxes. As a result, the letter would not be dispatched on the day it was mailed and would therefore be slightly delayed.

This indication was important, because at the time, recipients of letters circulating within mainland France could expect to receive them the day after they entered the postal service or the same day within the post office's locality. Delays of more than D+1 could lead to complaints from users.

At the same time, post office letterboxes were emptied several times a day, and in most towns with a post office, mail was also delivered several times a day.

The General Instruction of 1856 gives us the procedure to follow for letters posted after the last collections.

1850: Letter from SOMMAING (rural box M) for SOLESMES. The letter was brought back to the office on 15 October (presumably) after the last distribution and was delivered on the 16th.

From 1854 onwards, the "Après le départ" stamp was introduced, eliminating the need to apply the date stamp of the day of dispatch.

1858: Letter mailed in CAMBRAI on December 18, 1858 after the last collection of the post office. Left CAMBRAI, the 19, it arrives on December 20 at CONDE-SUR-L'ESCAUT.

1859: Letter weighing over 7.5 g franked at 20 c from AVESNES to SEMERIES. The "Après le Départ" mark indicates that the letter was posted after the last collection. This mark is locally made, as it does not correspond to the regulatory model.

1861: Letter given to the postman during his round in the village of FELLERIES (OR mark) for AVESNES.

The "Après le Départ" mark is also locally made, but of a different type.

1866: Letter deposited at the post office of LOURCHES on June 26, after the last collection.

The new General Instruction published in July 1868 followed the same procedure as in 1856.

Article 372, General Instruction on the Postal Service of 1876.

It should be noted, however, that this stamp does not appear to be compulsory, since a post office can always apply 2 date stamps to a letter posted too late. The inventory of post office equipment appended to the General Instruction does, however, indicate the presence of this stamp.

It should also be noted that since the General Instruction of 1856, a new type of date stamp has been in use, showing not only the day's date but also the mail collection number. In the case of post offices using this new type of date stamp (mainly in PARIS), the "Après le départ" stamp was no longer required.

It should also be noted that the "Après le départ" stamp presented in the 1868 General Instruction now indicates the office's serial number.

Appendix 9, General Instruction of 1868.

Instruction no. 1 in the Monthly Bulletin of July 1868 put an initial stop to the use of this stamp.

Extract from instruction no. 1 of the July 1868 Monthly Bulletin.

The date stamps in question are types 16, 17, 23 and 24, as they are known to philatelists. The number of mail collection is shown on the left-hand side of the date block. Users were well aware of the number of times the mailboxes were emptied, as this was widely publicised in the press, local almanacs and at the post office entrance.

Type 16
Type 16

Type 17

Type 16

Type 23

Type 24

The deployment plan for these new date stamps was planned over 5 years, but in fact by 1870 these date stamps had equipped all the post offices.

The second stop came with the Monthly Bulletin of February 1869 and the impossibility of ordering this stamp from the usual supplier, Mr Virey.

Extract from the February 1869 issue of the Monthly Bulletin.

However, some post offices equipped with new date stamps continued to use their "Après le départ" cachet.

1874: Letter posted at the SOMAIN office after the 5th and last collection. This post office is still uselessly using its "Après le départ" postmark.

The end this stamp was pronounced with Instruction no. 196 published in the April 1876 issue of the Monthly Bulletin.

Extract from the April 1876 Monthly Bulletin.

Article 406, General Instruction on the Postal Service of 1856.

Special type 1867

Type 1854

Before 1856, if a letter was deposited at the post office after the last collection, the office applied the date stamp of the day of deposit to the front of the letter, followed by the date stamp of the day of departure (or delivery).