Sometimes the general mail offices are issuing stamps with the coupons above, below or beside the stamp. These coupons are not some sort of marks of the postal payment, they can be often found in the stamp-notebooks, where are stitched the sheets of stamps of the most popular issues. Customers are buying this notebooks for the future - to pay for the sent mail. On the coupons there are often depicted different logos, pictures, text and advertising. The French mail, for example, never refused from the income, that was brought by the advertising coupons. For a certain fee, mail offices were accepting advertising orders from various companies.
That's how there was accepted an order from the pharmaceutical company - 20 000 notebooks with the most famous French stamp - "Marianne". At the end of the last - the first half of this century in many countries there were issued stamps, depicting women, who were embodying this or another country: "Sitting Helvetia", "Standing Helvetia" (Switzerland), "Germany", etc. In France, there were several such allegories and symbols, but the most widespread, of course, was "Marianne". For French it is - the embodiment of ideas of the French bourgeois revolution. The author of "Marianne" in the 90s of the last century was a young graphic artist and sculptor - Louis Oscar Roty.
There is a version, that the model for a famous stamp was a rural woman, named Maria from the village of Auvergne. She was selling herbs and vegetables from the cart in the village market, there Roty happened to see her, he sat down on an empty barrel and, unnoticed by Mary, made a sketch on a small piece of paper.
After some time, Roty has used this image to create the medal for a great agricultural exhibition. Later, when in 1897 a competition was announced for the project of coins, Roty slightly modified the design of his medals and became the winner of the competition. After three years, Roty again participated in the contest, this time on the same pattern he created a draft for a standard stamp - and again victory - in 1903. His Mary in the image of the "Marianne" first appeared on stamps.
Other researchers argue that another model (with the same name - Mary) had served to create an image - a young actress from the provincial industrial town of Le Creusot - Maria Rago. One way or another, but the stamp with the sower finally saw the light, and with the minor modifications, in various colors and with different denominations it was published in many millions of copies and many times. Long time already there was no author, no prototype: Roty died in 1911, Maria Rago finished her days in poverty in 1930, and the stamp went out again and again, although there appeared the allegorical figures of the other authors as well.
Biography of this stamp is rich and varied, the French mail announced a competition to create many other stamps, but still was coming back to the "Marianne the sower", only slightly changing the design of the stamp. If a girl from Auvergne was selling herbs, in the biography of "Marianne the sower" there was a time when she helped ... to sell drugs.
Taking an order from the pharmaceutical company, the French mail released 20,000 notebooks, each of which had a leaf with two rows of five stamps. Above and below there were the coupons, advertising the pharmaceutical agent "Mineralin." The nominal price of the notebooks was 1 franc. The company paid to the French mail some additional money and could afford to send the first part of the circulation to the addresses of many doctors as a promotional gift.
But the meticulous philatelists are not just buying stamps, they also have a habit to examine them carefully through a magnifying glass. They found out, that the text on the stamps was printed with slightly modified fount in comparison with the previous editions. This kind of news are usually spread very quickly among the philatelists. This caused a great interest in the vintage notebook with the advertising of "Mineralin". Soon it was conclusively proved, that for their production there were produced a completely new plates, ie, that it is a brand new stamp, which should be placed in the collection of anyone who is collecting stamps of France. The price for these stamps were rapidly growing.
The pharmaceutical company immediately took an advantage of those events, trying to use all possible features of the situation. The free distribution of the notebooks was immediately discontinued. The rest of the circulation was divided into the separate stamps and they were all placed in the packages of "Mineralin". But, of course, the precious stamps were not in every package, but only in a few, without any system. None of the buyers could know whether the package has a stamp or no. Philatelists snapped up "Mineralin" by hundreds and thousands of packages, until there were no stamps left in the company, that anyway made a great profit over the stamp collectors.
That was one of the roles, that "Marianne the sower" - a favorite stamp of several generations - happened to perform.