Deluxe Sheets are ungummed sheets on which the stamp is printed in the center in the issued color. Many early Deluxe Sheets have a transparent protective paper pasted at the top. Despite being the most commonly encountered Proofs, they are often the only Proofs available of many stamps.
They are printed from secondary dies, especially made for their production, and show the indentation of the die (impression of the steel die) measuring 55 x 48 or 48 x 32 mm. However Deluxe Sheets of postage dues printed by rotary typoand all issued from 1961 do not show this impression.

The Proofs are always in the same colors of the issued stamp, but there are very rare exceptions (fig. I1), and exist on thin or thick paper or card, and are without watermark.
The majority of the earlier Proofs, showing a single stamp, measure overall about 15,75 x 12,75 cm, and have the semi-transparent protective overlay; this overlay was discontinued for the issues of 1949 and, in 1950, the Proof size was reduced to approximately 13 x 10 cm.

Generally, Deluxe Sheets are not signed, but there are rare exceptions (fig. I17).

Deluxe Sheets is instantly recognisable by the fact that they show a printed inscription at the bottom of the Proof. These inscriptions are always printed in one of the colors to be found on the stamp (also in this case we have rare exceptions).

The Government Stamp Printery (Atelier de Fabrication des Timbres-Poste) has printed almost all Deluxe Sheets for France and a large majority of Deluxe Sheets for the former French Colonies.
The French Government Printing Office was located in Paris to June 1970.

After 1963, the Stamp Printery changed the name to Imprimerie des Timbres-Poste.

After June 1970, moreover, the French Stamp Printery (ITVF - Imprimerie des Timbres-Poste et Valeurs Fiduciaires), was moved from Paris to Périgueux, in the Southwest of France. These bear its name on the lower right corner.

The official name seen on Deluxe Sheets for the Government Stamp Printery has changed on several occasions as follows:

Deluxe Sheets are given to high government officials and an average of 200 to 300 Deluxe Sheets are printed for each issue.

Therefore, we have six different kinds of Deluxe Sheets:

There are main differences between Deluxe Sheets and Engraver's Die Proofs; the major differences are:

  1. Deluxe Sheets are printed in the final colors;
  2. Deluxe Sheets are usuallynot signed;
  3. Deluxe Sheets have theStamp Printery inscription on the lower right corner;
  4. Deluxe Sheets exist for almost all issues.
  1. Engraver's Die Proofs are printed in solid colors;
  2. Engraver's Die Proofs are usuallysigned;
  3. Engraver's Die Proofs do not indicate the Stamp Printery inscription;
  4. Engraver's Die Proofs exist only for typo and engraved issues.
Other differences are:
  1. the size of the Proofs,
  2. the kind of paper used,
  3. the presence of the the engraved name of the artist.

Deluxe Sheets for photogravure issues (héliogravure) were always, until 1966 and still often after this date, printed by private companies such as "Helio Vaugirard", "So Ge Im" or "Delrieu".
Although most Deluxe Sheets for French Area stamps have been printed in France, some Deluxe Sheets are printed in other countries: in Great Britain by Thomas De La Rue, in Japan by the Goverment Printing Bureau, in Germany by the Bundesdruckerei and many more (Israel, etc.).

For St. Pierre and Miquelon, since 1941 (see Yvert N° 210), all stamps issued exist in Deluxe Sheets except for those surcharged "France Libre".
They have been printed by private enterprises or by the French State Printing Works. The quantity of issues was variable until 1960 when they were limited to about 230 copies.

Until 1957 the format of St. Pierre and Miquelon Deluxe Sheets differed and each Proof is certified as being a dry print under the control of the Printing Works, except for the year 1947 (see Yvert 325/343, P.A. 18/20 and Taxe 67/76) (figg. I22, I23, I24), which also exist without this imprint.
From 1949 to 1965 (except for Yvert 345, 346, 349 and P.A. 28), all Deluxe Sheets have control perforations at the base of the sheet.
The Printing Works (Atelier) embossed control seal, represents an exception for Deluxe Proofs, unlike what we have seen previously for the Stage Die Proofs and for the Engraver's Die Proofs.

Really, Deluxe Proofs produced for St. Pierre and Miquelon are not the only one exception to this rule, because we can observe Proofs with others types of embossed control seal. An example is that of some Deluxe Proofs printed for Cameroon in 1962 (figg. I25, I26), or other Proofs realized in the years '40 for Reunion by the Institut de Gravure (a private printery) (fig. I27).

Another example is furnished by Deluxe Proofs realized for Togo (figg. I29, I30), always from the private Printing Works "Institut de Gravure".
These last Proofs, introduce a double embossed control seal, one of large dimensions in the lower part of the sheet and one smaller in the top of the sheet (figg. I31, I32).

A last version of Deluxe Proofs, different from those seen in before, is given by the Reduced Size Deluxe Proofs, characterized by a cardboard of reduced dimensions (14 x 6 cms) and by one monochrome central engraved (taille douce) vignette that it doesn't reproduce the colors of the definitive issued stamp, that is instead polychrome and printed in héliogravure (photogravure) (figg. I28, I28a), (fig. I36).

The same size of carboard exists also for engraving printed stamps (fig. I37).

These Reduced Size Deluxe Proofs are quite common; they are printed in several thousands copies and are sold in "first day" Post Office or by subscription.

A special thanks to Mr. Kenneth R. Thompson for his assistance in the english translation.
© Giorgio Leccese