The French production of stamps during WWII was quite similar to the production before the war in terms of volume. One after another beautiful emission was issued as if everything was normal. Gradually the impact on the issuance policy of the Vichy-regime, which was lead my Marshall Pétain, increased. The result was that besides issues with a fairly neutral character the stamps which were issued covered by the program ‘Secours National’ got an increasingly national-socialist character.
One third of the 18 engravers who signed for the production of new stamps during WWII have accounted for 60% of the whole production. Jules Piel (1882-1978), Charles Mazelin (1882-1968) en Pierre Gandon (1899-1990) were the most productive engravers with respectively 16, 14 and 13 stamps. After the war there were barely any consequences for the engravers who were working for the national-socialist regime of their country, in contrast to journalists and cartoonists, who were severly punished. In comparison to the period before 1940, the design of the war stamps was more comtemporary, thanks to the debut of some talented engravers such as Henri Cortot, René Cottet, Paul Pierre Lemagny en Charles Mazelin, who had their chance during this period.
In line with the development in other countries under the nazi regime, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, you could buy less and less for the money that was in circulation in France. The result was that there were speculative investments on a large scale, also in stamps. The investments in stamps were not successful, because unused stamps and stamps with an unreadable date stamp are worthless to this day. However also war stamps with or without surcharge have been really postally used, be it on a small scale.
If we compare the scarcity of unused stamps or stamps with an unreadable date stamp (a), stamps used with a readable date stamp from the period in which they were issued (b) and postally used items according to the right rate in the right period (c) and if we would value them on a scale of 1 to 10, then according to me the first category (a) will end up last (1), category (b) on 3-4 and category (c) on 10. Even though you hardly see them, they do exist. As an illustration the entire surcharge series ‘Coiffes Régionales’ of december 1943 is shown as single franking below. There were issued one million series of these stamps, which get a special appearance when presented as single franking.
The series ‘Coiffes Régionales du XVIIIème Siècle’ has the subject line traditional French women’s clothing from the 18th century. Such a subject of course was just in the line of the rulers during WWII who had a strong national and especially traditional view on society. The six stamps were intended for the franking of very common types of mail, such as postcards, printed matter, letters and registered mail. The nominal values represented a total amount of 14,70 francs, plus a surcharge of 25,30 francs, which was almost twice the nominal value. One series cost 40 francs, that is why most buyers preferred to keep the stamps in their album and franked their mail with simple Pétain stamps without surcharge.
If you compare the amount of 40 francs to the cost of the franking of a simple interior letter (1,50 francs) that is understandable. Of the pieces shown the 60 centimes and the 2,40 francs are the hardest to find. Of the 2,40 francs used on a card I only saw one example.