(ESSAYS DE COULEUR) (figg. H1, H2)

Like Color Proofs, Color Trials were used for the color selection of the stamp production process.

For some issues of the 1950's, both Color Proofs and Color Trials exist.

A full sheet of Color Trials is the gem of any collection. 

Color Trials are stamps issued on gummed sheet form and are printed by the same plates (dies) as are used for the issued stamps.

They superseded the Color Proofs and were first used in about 1956 (for Andorra, in the 1961 "new franc" definitives and airmails).

Color Trials exist only for engraved issues, are printed in full sheets and are usually printed in up to three different colors or shades, plus combination of colors.
For stamps printed in three colors and in sheets of 25, the color combinations will usually be as follows:

Because of this arrangement, many collectors prefer these Color Trials in strips of five containing one stamp from each row and one multicolored Trial, even if single Color Trials are often found (fig. H30) or couples (fig. H31) or also strips of 3 (fig. H32) (and this is especially the case for Monaco).

Another important consideration about the Color Trials it is that the Government Printing House (Imprimerie) does not print the same distribution of the same basic colors for every stamp. To the contrary, the sheets of printed Color Trials often show some important differences wheter in the colors distribution among the rows of Trials, or especially in the different use of the basic colors. For this reason we can have sheets of Color Trials printed for the same stamp in which the basic colors are totally different (figg. H33, H34, H35, H36, H37, H38).

The Color Trials are gummed and imperforate; unlike the ungummed imperforate single impression Colour Proofs, the Colour Trials are produced in normal size sheets of 10 (fig. H8), (fig. H9), 15 (fig. H42), 25 (fig. H10) or 50 units, according to the size of the issued stamp (for the large size stamps - 5,2 x 4 cm and sometimes for those that measure 5 x 3 cm - generally a sheet of 27,8 x 16 cm is used, containing two rows of five Color Trials horizontally or vertically arranged, separated by a 3 cm white space) (fig. H11).

In both these cases (sheets of 10), the Trialsare arranged in the following order:
monocolored stamps are in one row (generally the 3 basic colors, two of which are repeated to obtain 5 Trials), while in the second row there are 5 multicolored Trials with different combinations of the 3 basic colors.

In the sheets of 25 (fig. H10), the disposition of the colors occurs in the following order:
the first three rows of 5 stamps are unicolored, each of a different color; one of the colors is repeated on the fourth row, while the fifth row show different combinations of the 3 preceding colors (multicolor).

To this rule, some exceptions exist, as for instance sheets of 25 that, besides having 3 rows of 5 with unicolored stamps, there are also two rows with multicolored Trials (figg. H12, H13, H14).

The rows with the multicolored stamps can be the fourth and the fifth rows (fig. H15) but also the first and the fifth rows (figg. H16, H17).

Other exceptions in the sheets of 25 occur when the basic colors are 2 instead of 3:
color 1 (1st row), color 2 (2nd row), repetition of the color 1 (3rd row), repetition of the color 2 (4throw), combination of the two colors (5th row) (figg. H18, H19).

Moreover, the basic colors can be 4 instead of 3 (figg. H20, H21, H22, H23).

In Color Trials sheets, a different distribution of the basic colors can be observed between two rows of adjacent Trials:
for example, we can have in the fourth horizontal row of Trials the repetition of the color 3 beside the repetition of the color 1 (fig. H24), or the repetition of the color 2 beside the repetition of the color 1 (fig. H25) and so on.

Other variation in comparison to the classical scheme of the colors distribution is observed when more rows of 5 Trials are constituted of multicolored stamps, as in the case of figg. H26 and H27, that shows two strips of 5 stamps ("birds") of the first set printed by France with the 6 colors method (T.D.6).

Finally, the distribution of the multicolored stamps can follow a still different pattern, as in the case of these two blocks of four Monaco's Color Trials (figg. H28, H29).

There are also Color Trials in sheets of 15 (fig. H42), as in this example, the sheet is referred to as a triptych with two large size external stamps and a small one in central position. In this case, the classical 3 basic colors with repetition of one of them dosen't exist and the same thing happens for the multicolor Trial, but each stamp is represented with only one color (different from that of the definitive issued stamp).

Monaco Color Trials usually have a rubber stamp mark on the gummed side of the Trial(fig. H39, H40); it reads: "Musee du Timbre Poste" "Palais de Monaco" ("Postal Museum" "Palace of Monaco").
The rubber stamp mark is usually placed between two Trials or at the center of a block of four in order to cover at least a portion of each Trial.
Monaco Color Trials have another distinction: Trials for commemorative issues are usually printed in gummed sheets of 30 stamps (instead of the 25 stamps format, more common for other French Area issues).

Color Trials (as well as Engraver's Die Proofs) usually exist only for each different design of an issue. That is why although a set of three different values were printed for the above issue: Color Trials exist for only one value.

The production of Color Trials ceased in 1983.

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