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Red Cross Cinderella

Red Cross Cinderella

This Red Cross cinderella issue depicting Queen Milena is attributed
to Gaston Aime Camille Fontanille, also known as Delandre.

These "private issue" stamps from Montengro were amongst the Red Cross issues produced by Gaston Aime Camille Fontanille who produced and sold them without authorization and without remitting funds to the Red Cross. The stamps depict Queen Milena of Montenegro and were issued in 10, 15, 25 and 50 para denominations. Georges Chapier says in Les timbres de fantaisie that the stamps were issued at the beginning of World War I but, in Phantom Philately, Frederick John Melville dates them to 1916 based on a discussion of the issue in the September 1917 issue of Griebert's Philatelic Notes and Offers:

In December, 1916, we wrote to the Montenegro in authorities making enquiries as to the existence of Red Cross stamps. To this we received their official reply stating that so far no steps had been taken, and they were unable to give any details of such an issue; and with regard to certain surcharged French stamps, there had been no authority for such, and if they existed they must be looked upon as illegal and fraudulent. This communication from the Montenegrin Administration was dated December 13, 1916, and on December 20 we sent them a reply asking for details and particulars, etc. as soon as they were ready to put any Red Cross stamps into circulation so that we might be able to send them our order.

Meanwhile, however, we had been receiving offers, apparently sent from an agent of the Montenegrin Government, whohad these Red Cross stamps for sale. This letter was addressed from a certain place in Paris, and the notepaper and headingsof the printed notices all bore the same legend:

"Agence Comptable des Timbres de la Croix Rouge Montencgrine, 40 RueLaffitte, Paris."

The first notice was couched in the following terms: "I have the honour to inform you that the stamps, the issue of which has been authorised (!) for the benefit (! ?) of the Montenegrin Red Cross, will be put on sale on December 11, and will be sold at face value plus 10 centimes per stamp," etc.; and later on in January we received another notice from the same "Agency," informing us that the set consisted of four values--10, 15, 25, and 50 paras--and were [available for] orders. However, not having had any further direct news from the Government, we were somewhat suspicious of this wonderful Agency, and refrained from sending any order whatever.

It appears that this man Delandre, alias Gaston Fontanille, also pretended to have invented a wonderful periscope with whichhe would. be able to discover submarines, and in order to work this invention he obtained a partner to the tune of 120,000 fr! After havmg duped various people,. obtaining money from all quarters, he eventually over-reached himself, ingenious as he was, and returned to prison which he, had only quitted in July, 1914, after having been convicted already seven times, and Philately may rejoice at having got rid of such an energetic, but dangerous, man!

This issue is sufficiently exemplary of cinderella stamps that it illustrates the page facing the Forward to Chapier's book on the subject.


"Delandre." Wikipedia. 21 Jun. 2022. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 Jul. 2022. Web.

Chapier, Georges. Les timbres de fantaisie. Lucerne: Emile Bertrand, n.d.

Melville, Frederick John. Phantom Philately. Worthington, Ohio: Janet van den Berg, 1950.

"Milena of Montenegro." Wikipedia. 23 May 2022. Wikimedia Foundation. 23 Jul. 2022. Web.



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