Designers and Engravers of the Animals of Niger Stamps

Niger’s complete independence from France was achieved on August 3, 1960, but France continued to influence and aid the new Republic du Niger. The first stamps issued by the independent Republic were a set of 12 stamps picturing six animals (two stamps for each animal). Three of those pairs were featured in the previous post.  The 25fr Giraffe stamp was issued in late 1959, and the balance of the set in 1960. Stamps up to the 1970s tended to be large engraved issues designed and printed in France, with many strongly resembling the design of French stamps.

The designers and engravers of the first set of stamps issued by the Republic du Niger are identified on each stamp, but their names are very small and can be easily overlooked. Designer names appear in the bottom right corner of the stamps, and engravers in the bottom left corner. The names mostly parallel the bottom edge of the stamps, but some parallel the sides. Below are greatly enlarged portions of the three pairs of stamps featured in my last post and the Giraffes stamp above.

Crested Cranes                                             Saddle-billed Storks
Left: R. Subert — Designer                        Left: R. Subert — Designer
Right: Bétemps — Engraver                       Right: Bétemps — Engraver

Giraffes                                                            Ostriches
Left: R. Subert — Designer                        Left: R. Cami — Designer
Right: Decaris — Engraver                        Right: R. Subert — Engraver

Some information about the artists noted above:

R. Subert

Unable to find any information about this designer/engraver.

Georges Bétemps (1921-1992)
Georges Bétemps (French cartoonist, engraver and painter) was born in Paris on February 19, 1921. He studied at the Ecole Esteinne (Parisian School of Art) and then at the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts, but interrupted his studies to join the French Resistance. After liberation in 1946 he engraved his first stamps, a definitive set for Cameroun. The engraved ‘Native Head’ design (below right) was one of his designs for that set of stamps .

In 1961 Bétemps engraved his first French stamp (below), which portrayed Honoré Daumier. It was
in 1983 one of the stamps in  
the  Red the Red Cross Fund semi-postal series. In 1983 he was awarded the Grand Prix de l’Art Philatelique for his engraved rendering of Gustave Doré’s ‘Bluebeard giving keys to his wife’. This stamp (below left) was a masterpiece of an engraved rendering of a work of art for a stamp. Bétemps’ stamp engraving displayed the same intricacy of the much larger Doré original (below right).

He was again awarded the Grand Prix de l’Art Philatelique in 1990 for his engraving of a French Polynesia issue featuring the Maori World (left).

Georges Bétemps designed or engraved more than 1,500 stamps for France and other countries and was still active when he died on April 18, 1992.



Albert Decaris (1901-1988)
Albert Decaris (left) is generally regarded as France’s Master Engraver of the 20th century. In addition to engraving, Decaris was also a painter in oils and watercolor. He was born on May 6, 1901 in Sotteville-lés-Rouen. At 14 he entered the Ecole Estienne, which specialized in industrial graphics, where one  of his instructors was stamp engraver Antoine Dezarrois.  Three years later as a student at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts he won the Prix de Rome and the chance to study in Italy at the Villa Medici.

Decaris engraved his first stamp for France in 1935 (left) and went on to engrave over 600 stamps for France and other countries in addition to approximately 6,000 non-stamp engravings. Classical clarity was the foundation of his work.

One of his stamp achievements for France was a series of historical scenes (three are illustrated above) which were produced from 1966 through 1973. Each year he designed and engraved three stamps. The entire series presented a complete history of France.

Decaris was asked to produce a version of the Marianne. a definitive issue that appeared in various iterations from 1944 to the present. Marianne is a symbol of Republican France and conveys liberty, equality and fraternity. Only one value of the Marianne de Decaris (left) was produced however, and that was in 1960. Its short life was caused by the introduction of a new printing press, the TD-6. He also engraved the Marianne de Cocteau definitive designed by Jean Cocteau which was in use in various denominations from 1961-1967. Decarus’ non-Marianne definitive with his Gallic Cock design (below right) was introduced in 1962 and has become an iconic image. In 1985 his final stamp was issued to mark National Memorial Day.

During his lifetime Albert Decarus received many honors including being elected a fellow of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and the Légion d’Honneur medal. Perhaps his most unusual honor was receiving an Olympic Gold Medal for Etching and Engraving in 1948, the last Olympics that included engraving.

Decaris died on January 1, 1988. To mark his birth centennial a stamp was issued on 2001 (below left)  which was designed and engraved by Claude Jumelet. The design expresses Decarus humorous side showing the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower dancing together. The designer was certainly influenced by Decaris’ engraving celebrating the centennial of the Eiffel Tower (below rightt).


Robert Cami (1900-1975)
Robert Cami was born on January 1, 1900 in Bordeaux, France. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux until 1918 and then at the School of Fine Arts in Paris specializing in graphics arts.

In 1926 he won the prize for engraving from the Fondation Franco-Américaine Florence Blumenthal and in 1928 the First Grand Prix of Rome for engraving. From 1932 to 1942, he taught at the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux where he established the school’s engraving studio. From 1945, he was Professor of Engraving at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. His work was frequently exhibited in France and abroad.

Cami’s work on stamps began in the early 1950s. His first engraved stamp was the 1953 18f Hernani de Victor Hugo (above left). One of the first series he was involved with was the ‘Heroes of the Resistance’ (above center) beginning in 1957. His best known series was the ‘Tourist Publicity’ series which made good use of his expertise in landscapes and cityscapes. The initial stamp in that series depicted Château de Valençay and perhaps the most popular was issued in 1960 and featured Laon Cathedral (above right).

Cami was active until his death on January 12, 1975. His final work was the 1975 70c ‘Snowy Egrets’ stamp from the Nature Conservation set.


One thought on “Designers and Engravers of the Animals of Niger Stamps

  1. Thanks, Joe, for sharing your research, knowledge, and pix of people and their stamp designs. It’s so interesting! Makes me wonder since you’re a graphic artist, have you ever designed any stamps?

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