A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Italy 1862-1925

1889 Scott 55 60c violet "Humbert I"
Quick History
"Italia" was first applied to all the peninsula lands under the Alps during the reign of Emperor Augustus. When General and Patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi agreed to a monarchy under the House of Savoy in 1860, the Kingdom of Italy was born, not least through the midwifery of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

In 1860-61, Garibaldi and the Sardinians annexed Naples and Sicily. A united Italian Kingdom was declared  on March 17, 1861. Italy added Venetia in 1866, and took over the Roman States in 1870.

The Kingdom of Italy lasted from 1860-1946, at least in name from 1922-1946.

But Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in 1922. Victor Emmanuel III elected to tolerate Mussolini, and named him Prime Minister. But all pretense of democracy was gone under the Fascists by 1925.
Topographic Map of Italy
Postage stamps, now mostly perforated, were introduced for the Kingdom of Italy in 1862 by using the same  imperforate stamps of the Kingdom of Sardinia. But the King was the same- Victor Emmanuel II. His effigy then appeared on the stamps of Italy from 1863-77.

King Humbert I (Umberto I), he with the wide handlebar mustache, was portrayed from 1879-1896.

Then Victor Emmanuel III appeared in 1901, and had his 25th year anniversary stamp issue in 1925-26, under the specter of Mussolini. So ends this history- to be continued with the next installment.

1901-26 Scott 76 1c brown "Coat of Arms"
A 25 year run for this design
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, has, for the regular issues of Italy from 1862-1925, 171 major stamp descriptions. Of interest, the catalogue begins with Scott 17, as the first 16 numbers were re-assigned to Sardinia sometime before 1925, the earliest catalogue I consulted. That is why, to many- including the earlier editions of Big Blue- there is a soft and fuzzy dividing line between the stamps of Sardinia and Italy. More about that soon.

Of the 171 stamps, 106 (62%) are CV <$10. The stamps of Italy are expensive, but not as expensive as Great Britain or France for the era.  They are also classical attractive, as one would expect from artisan rich Italy.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
I will attempt a general survey of the regular issue stamps of Italy, passing through forgeries, types, and various issues along the way. We will stop with the 25th anniversary stamp issue of King Victor Emmanuel III in 1925-26. From there, Mussolini and the Fascists had firm control. The 1925-40 era will be covered in the next post.
1862 "Scott 19" 20c dark blue "Victor Emmanuel II"
Perforation 11 1/2, Reprint -forgery from David Cohn
We will start off with a bang with a perforated 20c , - a David Cohn Sardinian stamp reprint-forgery that was subsequently perforated to imitate the Scott 19 of Italy.

By the way, a genuine Italy 20c is CV $20+, so certainly possible to have one in a collection.

First, the genuine perforation is always 11 1/2 X 12 for this stamp issue.
Second, look at the right upper spandrel framing the portrait. There is a prominent small blue dot inside a white portion toward the right edge of the spandrel (blue arrow). See it? This is one of the markers for the 20c reprint-forgery.

The infamous David Cohn of Berlin produced these reprint forgeries between 1889-92 for the 5c, 20c, and 40c denominations.  They are mostly found imperforate, so can be mistaken for genuine Sardinian stamps. But a number were perforated, and can be confused with the genuine perforated stamps of Italy. But the perforations are 11 1/2, a giveaway.

Sardinia "Scott 10" 5c green, perf 11 1/2, Forgery-reprint
Italy "Scott 17"  10c bister, perf 13, not genuine Scott 17
Italy "Scott 20" 40c red, perf 11 1/2, Forgery-reprint
Here are some more grand imitators.

10c bister (Center stamp for image scan above)
The perforation 13 is not found with the Italy Scott 17 10c bister, which is 11 1/2 X 12. Why would someone do this? The imperforate Sardinia 10c bister is CV $5+ unused, while the Italy 10c bister is CV $8000 unused! ;-) This is probably a genuine Sardinia 10c bister that was perforated- fortunately incorrectly.

Now a closer look at the 5c green and 40c red....

Left:genuine; Right:reprint-forgery
5c green
First, there is NO recognized 5c perforated denominations of this design for Italy by Scott since at least 1925. As mentioned, at some time prior, Scott removed the first 16 catalogue numbers from Italy and transferred them to Sardinia. So this perforated 11 1/2 fake has no where to go.
Second, this is another David Cohn Reprint-forgery. Look at the upper left spandrel next to the portrait. Notice the asterisk-like center design is detached from the low design element blue arrow)? In the genuine, they are attached (red arrow).

Left:genuine; Right:reprint-forgery
40c red
First, a 11 1/2 perf: not found with genuine.
Second,- I have a grand slam - all three David Cohn reprint-forgeries! Look at the top right spandrel next to the portrait. There is a distinct break in the thick curved line that outlines the spandrel (blue arrow). The genuine has a thinner line with no break (red arrow).

(Note: All of these Sardinian reprint-forgeries are discussed in Varro Tyler's "Focus on Forgeries", 2000 edition.)

Of the 11 Sardinian/Italian stamps I have of this issue- all pulled out of Big Blues......

5c- 2 genuine Sardinian imperforate, 1 Cohn Sardinian reprint forgery imperforate, 1 "Italian" Cohn reprint forgery perforate.

10c- 2 "Probably genuine" Sardinian stamps, but they were than manufactured into Italian perforated fakes @ 13 perf.

20c- 1 Cohn "Italian" reprint forgery perforate.

40c- 2 genuine Sardinian imperforate, 1 Cohn "Italian" reprint-forgery perforate.

One might want to check one's own collection- it's possible the result may be similar. ;-)

1863 Italy Scott 22 15c blue "Victor Emmanual II", 
1863 Scott 22e 15c pale blue
Stamp Lithographed, Head Embossed, Imperforate
There is an imperforate variety for Italy: namely the 1863 Scott 22 15c blue, shown above (CV $35 no gum). Of interest, the frame design is lithographed rather than typographed. Scott also lists seven colors (minor numbers) for this stamp- shown is a pale blue or possibly a milky blue variant.

1863 Scott 23 15c blue, type II
The first stamp labeled "Italiano",also imperforate, was issued in 1863. Of interest, type II has an "open" first C of the bottom tablet (CV >$3 no gum), while type I has a an almost closed "C" (CV >$20). Check your collection.
1865 Scott 25 2c orange brown
Between 1863-77, a 10 stamp series was issued. The two lowest denominations had a numeral as the major design. CV for 9 stamps is $2+->$10. By the way, this is the first use of the "Crown" watermark (wmk 140), which we will show later.

 1863-77 Scott 30 30c brown "Victor Emmanuel II"
The other 8 stamps in the issue had the "Victor Emmanuel II" effigy, as illustrated. As is found for a number of Italian stamps, the 30c brown is >$10 CV used, but only >$2+CV for unused no gum.

1865 Scott 34 +a +b 20c on 15c blue
Surcharged in brown, Type I, II, III respectively
The 1865 surcharged stamp is found with three types (CV $4+-$20). (One may want to enlarge the image for close inspection.)

By the way, Deep Blue (Steiner) provides spaces for all three types.

Type I (blue arrows)- a dot between the checkmark figure, and a dot above and below the diamond figure in the oval.

Type II (red arrows)- No dot between the checkmark figure, but a dot above and below the diamond figure.

Type III (yellow arrows)- No dots anywhere.

What types(s) do you have in your collection?

1877 Scott 36 20c orange
Two stamps issued between 1867-77, a 20c blue and the 20c orange, have the design as shown. CV is $1+-$4.
 1877 Scott 40 2c on 30c lake
Official stamps surcharged in blue
In 1877, 8 official stamps were surcharged "2c" in blue. Rather interesting, No? The CV ranges from $4+-<$20+.
1879 Scott 50 50c violet "Humbert I"
Spandrel designs in all corners
In 1879, the new King Humbert I had his portrait on a seven stamp issue. CV is $1+->$20+ for 5 stamps. Note the spandrel design in all corners.

1889 Scott 52 5c dark green "Arms of Savoy"
The 5c denomination of the 1889 5 stamp issue featured the House of Savoy Coat of Arms.  CV for the issue is $3+- $30.
1889 Scott 54 45c gray green "Humbert I"
The other four stamps in the 1889 issue had the above design, this time with numerals in the corners. I wonder how much wax was applied to Humbert I's mustache? ;-) Notice also the somewhat spiky hair? Who says fashion trends do not return? ;-)

1890-91 Scott 65 20c on 30c brown
Stamps of 1879 surcharged
Three of the 1879 issue stamps were surcharged in 1890-91. CV for the 20c on 30c brown is $10, the least expensive of the group.
1891-96 Scott 67 5c green "Arms of Savoy"
A new issue with "Arms of Savoy"/ "Humbert I" designs was produced between 1891-96, differing from the earlier issue in design specifics, color and denomination.

1895 Scott 71 45c olive green "Humbert I"
The 1891-96 issue would be the last for King Humbert I, also known as Umberto I, as he was assassinated in 1900 by an Italo-American anarchist. He was buried next to his father, Victor Emmanuel II, in the Pantheon in Rome. He was the last Savoy who was buried in the Pantheon, as his son, Victor Emmanuel III, died while in exile in Egypt.
1896-97 Scott 73 1c brown "Arms of Savoy"
A three stamp set with the "Arms of Savoy" design was issued in 1896-97. CV is $2-$8.

1901-26 Scott 85 50c violet "Victor Emmanuel III"
A new 16 stamp set was issued in 1901 for King Victor Emmanuel III, and was in production for 25 years. The lower three denomination stamps had the "Coat of Arms" (illustrated elsewhere on this post), but the remaining 13 stamps had the King portrait.

1926 Scott 90 2.50l dark green & orange 
"Victor Emmanuel III"
Seven values (mostly the higher denominations) were printed in bi-colors, as shown above. CV for the set stamps ranges from <$1- >$10+.

1905 Scott 92 15c on 20c orange
In 1905, the 20c orange from the preceding issue was surcharged as above. (CV $2). This stamp seems to be common in collections.
1906 Scott 93 15c slate "Victor Emmanuel III", 25mm
1909-17 Scott 111 15c slate black, redrawn, 23mm
1911 Scott 123 15c slate, re-engraved, 24mm
The 15c "Victor Emmanuel III" is interesting, as it was issued in three (subtle) variations (CV $1-$2+). ( I suggest enlarging the image for close inspection.) Naturally the stamps tend to be confused in collections. Of course there are differences in the portrait, but let's look at other differences. 

First, the stamps are different height sizes!- 25mm, 23mm, and 24mm respectively. 

Next, the crown and cross in the upper right portion of the stamp are different, as illustrated. (The Scott classic catalogue tries to show the crown differences, but the printing image is poor.)

The upper tablet has differences in script appearance: in the "15" numeral, and how close the "c" in "cent" is to the left edge of the stamp.

But the star(s) on the coat collar is, to me, the most obvious difference...
Scott 93 (blue arrow)- no left star seen, but rather a vertical line on the collar?
Scott 111 (red arrow)- indistinct left star seen
Scott 123 (yellow arrow) -left star seen

By the way, Big Blue has spaces for 93 and 111,  but not 123. That is because the 111 illustration-well, is for 111, and not for 123. ;-)

1916 Scott 112 20c brown orange , unwmk
1917 Scott 113 20c brown orange, perf 14, wmk 140
The other puzzlement is the 20c orange brown stamp, which comes in two varieties. First, the Scott 112 I have here is  perf 13 1/2 X 14, while the Scott 113 is perf 14. 

Then the Scott 112 is unwatermarked, while the Scott 113 has the "crown" (wmk 140).

Here is the watermark...
Italy "crown" wmk (wmk 140)
Although the crown watermark was introduced in 1863, and is on many stamps, I haven't said much about it, as generally, it has not been needed for differentiation. ;-)

 1906-19 Scott 95 10c claret "Victor Emmanuel III"
Between 1906-19, three stamps with the above design were also issued. CV is <$1.

1920 Scott 104 40c brown "Victor Emmanuel III"
Fourteen stamps were issued between 1908-27 with the illustrated design. CV ranges from <$1->$10+.

1910 Scott 114 10 l gray green & red "Victor Emmanuel III"
In 1910, this rather high denomination, 10 lira, was issued. CV is >$30. Nice looking design.

1911 Scott 119 2c brown 
"Symbols of Rome and Turin"
In 1911, on the 50th anniversary of the union of Italian States, a four stamp set was produced with different designs. This and the Garibaldi stamps of 1910 (not illustrated), are the first larger format stamps (commemoratives) that Italy issued. The four Garibaldi stamps (Scott 115-118) have CV $20+-$200!

1912 Scott 124 5c indigo "Campanile,Venice"
For the rebuilding of the Campanile, a two stamp set was issued, as illustrated (CV $9+-$50). The stamp is engraved, as are others of this era. Enlarge and enjoy- breathtaking!

1913 Scott 126 2c on 5c deep green
"Symbol of Valor"
The 1911 5c , 10c, and 15c  "Union of Italian States" stamps were surcharged in 1913 as above. CV is  $2+. Lovely classic design.
1921 Scott 135 40c brown "Dante Alighieri"
For the 600th anniversary of the death of Dante, a three stamp set was released. CV is $7+.

1921 Scott 136 5c olive green "Victory"
A four stamp set with "Victory" as the theme was issued in 1921 (CV 1+-3+).

1923 Scott 145 50c violet & brown orange
"Christ Preaching the Gospel"
St. Francis of Assisi vignette is on the upper right of the 50c denomination for this large format four stamp set. (CV $6+ CTO).
1923-25 Scott 153 25c on 60c, Type I
In 1923-25, 12 stamps from previous issues were surcharged. CV is <$1-$10+. The obliterator bars for the 7 1/2 on 85c, and the 25c on 60c surcharges come in two types-see Scott for details.

   1926 Scott 177 1.25 l dark blue 
"King Victor Emmanuel III"
Finally, a three stamp set was issued for the 25th year of the reign of Victor Emmanuel in 1925-26. But since 1922, he was very much in the shadows of Mussolini, and he was only really a a figurehead now. I think if you look at the portrait on this stamp, he knows it too. Soon, the definitive stamp issuing focus will turn to the glory dates of Roman imperialism, reflecting the fascism of the era.

Deep Blue
The 1901-26 Issue in Deep Blue
Some of the minor number colors are given a space
Deep Blue (Steiner) has, for the 171 major stamp descriptions covered here, 11+ pages. It follows the Scott catalogue essentially, although it does include a page for the minor number 1901-22  issues with advertising labels produced in 1924-25. Other minor numbers (Types or colors) are at times also given a space. Nice!

1901-26 Scott 77 & 78 2c orange brown & 5c blue green
"Coat of Arms"
Big Blue
Although it is true I put my collection into Steiner pages (Deep Blue), I am never far away from the Big Blues.
Big Blue feeder albums and the first page of Italy
Above is a pic of four Big Blues plus a stock page ready to be "fed" into Deep Blue. And having a Big Blue checklist helps to know what possible stamps I have in the Big Blues.

And this brings me to the Italy first page in the '41/'43/'47 editions.

1943 edition BB with 1862 issue 5c green, 80c orange, and blank space
But Scott places the 5c green with Sardinia, not Italy!
The 1862 issue three space selection was removed by the '69 editors. And I think I know why. Since at least 1925, the earliest catalogue I consulted, Scott places the 5c green with Sardinia, not Italy! And the 5c green is only recognized by Scott in the imperforate Sardinian form. 

By the way, notice the "stamp labels" for Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, etc? Did Scott sell these country labels for the young juvenile audience to encourage stamp collecting in the "Junior" album? Can anybody shed more light on this? I do know that these "stamp label" spaces were removed in the '69 edition.

• Incredible! Big Blue does a magnificent job of providing almost all the stamp spaces for 1863-1925!
Really, if they had done this for other countries, there would be little need to look elsewhere for albums.
( But let's not get carried away- the '69 editors took a hatchet to the so called" back-of-the book" issues- more about that in a subsequent post. ;-)

• Naturally, because of the comprehensive coverage, there are expensive stamp spaces to fill. The stamps over the $100 mark include blank space choice 1879 Scott 49 30c brown ($120-no gum), and the 1910 Garibaldi  Scott 117 5c claret ($140), and  Scott 118 15c green ($200) ! There are eight more stamps between $35-$55 that make the "Most Expensive Stamps" list. Twenty-four more stamps are CV $10-$30+. See specifics under "comments" after the checklist.

• There were a few stamps left out. When the '69 editors removed the 1862 issue, there is no longer a possible space for 1862 Scott 10 20c dark blue ($10+ no gum). On the other hand, since there are so many forgery reprints, and Sardinian imperforates that were given an "Italian perforation haircut" in collections, perhaps it is just as well. ;-) 

• There are some other instances where different types can go in the same space, different colors etc- I alert with an * and a comment in the checklist.

1863 (Imperforate)
22, 23* or 23d,

31,32,33,34* or a or b,35,36,




Next page





80,81a* or 81,82,83,84,85,86,87,



1907-26 (Actually 1906-27)
96,97,98,99,100* or 101,103,104,105,


111*,112* or 113,114,

Next page










Next page







A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1863 Scott 22 15c blue ($35 no gum)
1863-77 Scott 33 2 l vermilion  ($10+ no gum)
1877 Scott 37 2c on 3c lake ($20+ no gum)
1877 Scott 38 2c on 5c lake ($40)
1877 Scott 40 2c on 30c lake ($10+)
1877 Scott 42 2c on 2 l lake ($10+)
1877 Scott 43 2c on 5 l lake ($20+)
1877 Scott 44 2c on 10 l lake ($20)
1879 (Scott 49) 30c brown ($120 no gum)
1879 (Scott 51) 2 l vermilion ($35 no gum)
1890 Scott 60 2c on 5c claret ($20+ no gum)
1890 Scott 62 2c on 1.25 l orange ($20+ no gum)
1890 Scott 63 2c on 1.75 l brown ($10+ no gum)
1890-91 Scott 64 2c on 5c blue green ($10+ no gum)
1890-91 Scott 65 20c on 30c brown ($10)
1890-91 Scott 66 20c on 50c violet ($47+)
1901-26 Scott 85 50c violet ($10+)
1910 Scott 115 5c green ($20+)
1910 Scott 116 15c scarlet ($55)
1910 Scott 117 5c claret ($140) !
1910 Scott 118 15c green ($200) !
1912 Scott 125 15c dark brown ($50)
1911 Scott 120 5c deep green ($35)
1911 Scott 121 10c carmine ($30+)
1911 Scott 122 15c slate ($35)
1922 Scott 140 25c maroon ($10+)
1922 Scott 141 40c violet brown ($20+)
1922 Scott 142 80 dark blue ($10+) 
1923 Scott 157 50c on 55c dull violet ($10+)
1923 Scott 162 1 l blue ($10+)
1923 Scott 163 2 l brown ($10+)
1923 Scott 165 10c brown red & black ($20)
1923 Scott 166 15c blue green & black ($20)
1923 Scott 167 30c black & slate ($20)
1923 Scott 168 50c orange brown & black ($20)

B) Note: "Expensive stamps" reflect the lowest price possible in catalogue- sometimes with no gum.

C) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

D) *23 or 23d- corresponds to Type II or Type I-see discussion or Scott

E) *34 or a or b- corresponds to Type I or Type II or Type III-see discussion or Scott

F) * 81a or 81- "deep blue" color (81a) specified by BB

G) *100(blue) or 101 (light green-'27 date) are the choices- If one sticks to the BB '26 date specification for the issue, than remove 101 as a choice.

H) *110 "chocolate" (in '47 catalogue) is now "red brown"

I) *111 is the illustration in BB: therefore 1911 Scott 123 15c slate (re-engraved) is not eligible.

J) *112 or 113- differs by perf and wmk. See discussion.

1916 Scott 129 20c on 50c slate
Out of the Blue
I really enjoyed putting the classical issues of Italy into Deep Blue. And ,with few exceptions, they are not difficult to identify either. They are somewhat expensive.

And Humbert I (Umberto I)-  love the 'stache. ;-)

Yet there is a somber awareness: knowing where Mussolini took Italy for the next 20 years.

Note: Italy map appears to be in the public domain.

Would love a comment!


  1. Exceptional work. Your efforts in sharing your knowledge and love of stamps is greatly appreciated.

    Ted Tyszka

    1. Jim, I couldn't agree with Ted more! I have been sharing your blog for a about a month now and have been very impressed and interested in your writings. Always looking forward to your next blog. We really enjoy your efforts!

      Doug Noernberg

    2. Thanks Doug. :-)

      Always nice to hear from appreciative readers. And if you have something to share comment wise- jump in! ;-)

    3. Doug

      I didn't realize what a terrific google + stamp web community you help found- called "Stamp collecting"

      I am going to add it to my recommended web sites. :-)


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks Ted.

    Your Prugalfilatelist blog is quite delightful, and I have been aware of it for some time. In fact,I have added it to the recommended blog list here. :-)


  4. I am only new to stamp collecting in at best described as a moderately serious way .
    I a have a 1863-77 Scott 10c " buff" or "orange brown " "Victor Emmanuel II" in my collection in fair condition that I am trying to "guestimate" the value off.
    Scott catalogue states $5.50 _ $4000 .That's a mighty big range to pick from .Apart from paying $20 for a valuation on what might be a 50c stamp what is the most accurate way to determine valuation .Any input would be greatly appreciated .
    Kind Regards

    1. Hello Pete

      The 1863 Scott 27 10c buff or Scott 27a orange brown in used condition is fairly common- hence the CV $5.50 valuation. The high value CV of $4000 is for unused/mint.

      If you believe strongly that your specimen is unused, then it might very well be worth your while to get a certificate. Otherwise I don't think it is worthwhile: as said, the stamp is common in used condition.