Localpost – Gauthier Freres et Cie
The Compagnie Franco-Americaine was formed in 1856 by Gauthier Freres & Compagnie of Paris and Lyons to operate a fleet of iron screw steamers between Havre and North & South America.
There is a record in the French postal archives that a government contract was made
with Gauthier on August 17, 1827, for a sea mail service from Bordeaux to Vera Cruz, and
an additional contract in 1829 for a similar service from Le Havre to Buenos Aires, such
contracts not being renewed on expiry. After this Gauthier ran his own service and is known to have carried mail to St. Thomas as well as to Europe.
The company’s services proved to be very irregular, ships prone to breakdowns and passengers far fewer than expected.
One of their ships the Lyonnais sank in 1856 after a collision with the American barque Adriatic, with a loss of 120 lives. Repercussions from this incident may have lead to the closure.
The company closed in 1857.
Stamps were issued in 1856 both in vermilion and blue for use on mail carried privately by the Gauthier Freres steamship company from Havre, France to New York or Rio de Janeiro, both colored stamps are very rare, as only 8 copies of the red stamp are recorded and only 2 blue stamps are known, one being on a cover front
The stamps have a resemblance to the Suez Canal ones.
Some of the certified reds have sold in the $3000-$4000 range. A sum which ios unusual considering how rare they are.
A wide range of forgeries exist with some current listings at fairly high values.
A certified copy with the following features;
1. A vermilion stamp with blue monogram “G.F. & C.” hand stamp
2. No border outside the main border. Forgeries all appear to have a thin outside border.
3. Thick smoke touches the frame
4. The background horizontal lines decrease proportionately in width from bottom to top.
5. A dot below the “Cie”. The bottom “i” in “Cie” has no dot above it
6. A dot at the end of the top letters
The forgeries come in a wide range of colors and the first sign is the thin outside frame and the lack of smoke.
Most are probably typographed Taylor forgeries – Taylor was known for creating forgeries in various colors and paper types. There are at least 7 Bogus issue varieties from Taylor.
There is also a Moens (perhaps Torres) recognizable by;
LITHOGRAPHED (MOENS 1864)
1. There is no dot over the ” i” in “Cic”.
2. The “c” in ”Cie” consists of a curve and a short detached stroke.
3. There is no sky around the ship.
4. There is very little water under the boat.
5. The “F” in “FRANCO” has no bottom serifs.
6. The “A” in “AM ERICAINE” has no bottom serifs.
7. The color: Black on White