Precanceled stamps are mainly definitive stamps with an overprint, issued as 'canceled' before being attached to mail.
They are often offered to companies who need lots of stamps for sending their mailings, and the precanceled stamps are bought in larger quantities by those companies.
Some countries have stamps with city or district names on the overprint (like USA, Belgium, ...)
and were often used on newspaper wrappers (also in Canada, Austria and the UK).
French precanceled stamps (often called : preo's) are overprinted with 'AFFRANCH(issemen)ts POSTES"
The French precanceled stamps are unique, as they were printed in thematic sets, such as beetles, mushrooms, .... and often came in sets of 4 or multiples of 4.
Very convenient if you want to depict 4 seasons, 4 suits of cards, ... or 12 months, 12 zodiac signs,...
For this post of course, I bring the 12 western zodiac signs from the issues 1977-78.
|Gemini - highest value in the set|
In the south eastern corner, we find the precancel in black.
These stamps do not exist without the precancel.