The first postage stamps of Belgium were issued on 1 July 1849 and are known as the “Epaulettes”. Until 1865 her stamps followed the British tradition and did not have the name of the country included in the design. Belgium was one of the first signatories of the GPU in 1874, which became the UPU in 1878.The Flemings complained that the French name for Belgium – “Belgique” - was the only name on the stamps and from 1893 'Belgie' was added. The name has appeared in both languages ever since.Between 1893 and 1914 all stamps were produced with a detachable label inscribed 'Do not deliver on a Sunday' in both French and Flemish. All stamps were printed with these detachable bandalettes, or ‘Sunday Labels’ which enabled the sender to indicate whether delivery was to be made on a Sunday.
Belgium's neutrality was guaranteed by the Treaty of London (1839). It was a breach of this treaty which led to the entry of Britain into World War I.
The government moved to France on 13 October 1914 and continued to print stamps for use in that locality and in the small unoccupied parts of Belgium. The Germans issued stamps for use in occupied Belgium on 1 October 1914. These continued in use throughout the war and were used concurrently with the stamps of the German Western Military Command from 1916. The latter were also used in the occupied area of northern France.
From 1919 Belgian troops occupied part of the Rhineland until 1930 and overprinted stamps were issued for this area. Belgium hoped that neutrality would be maintained but Germany invaded in May 1940. Belgium is a fascinating philatelic country with collectors specializing in not just the stamps but postal markings and a wide array of interesting booklet panes, railway service stamps and much else besides. We recommend the stamp listings in the Stanley Gibbons “Belgium and Luxembourg” catalogue, also in the Michel Volume 6 West – Europa catalogue, also the specialised Belgium Volume 1 catalogue published by Cob.