First Day Covers and postage stamps commemorate first ascents in France 200 years after Mont Blanc and 500 years after Mont Aiguille. Yet even in the infinitely replicable series of a postage stamp, the prior histories of these ascents could render the symbolism of these anniversaries ambivalent. Paccard and Balmat, who had faced each other in the portraits by Bacler d'Albe and been given competing roles in prior accounts, now rubbed shoulders and looked together at the mountain as well as Paccard's barometer in this 1986 stamp. The ascent of Mont Aiguille--for almost three hundred years a symbol of the sovereignty of the king--had become a secular symbol of the République Française for its anniversary in 1992. Philatelic souvenirs had become a commodity of commemoration by the state.
Source: First Day Cover, Worcester Polytechnic Institute