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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Italy-Special Delivery, Postage Due, Parcel Post, Occupation, Offices Abroad, Aegean Islands

1930 Scott 15 1.25 l deep blue, red overprint 
"Fabrizio Maramaldo Killing Ferrucci"
Stampalia, Aegean Islands
Quick History
This post will examine the so called "back of the book" stamp categories and issues of Italy. The "Quick History" section will try to summarize some of the history behind the stamps.

The Italian Dodecanese, or Italian Aegean Islands, were a group of twelve larger islands in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey which were part of the Kingdom of Italy from 1912-1947. Stamps were produced for the islands from 1912-1940 during the period covered by this blog.

These islands were occupied by Italy during the Italo-Turkish war of 1912, and they were annexed in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne.
Italian Dodecanese (Italian Aegean Islands)
The now fascist government of Italy tried to "Italianize" the islands,making them a showcase for the nascent Italian Empire. There was only limited success, considering almost all the inhabitants were Greek speaking.

Rhodes (Rodi) was by far the most important island, and was the capital. Of the 130,000 inhabitants of the Italian Aegean Islands, 60,000 lived on Rhodes (Rodi).

A list of the important islands with their Italian names (Greek in parenthesis)...
Calchi (Halki)
Calino (Kalymnos)
Caso (Kasos)
Coo (Kos)
Lero (Leros)
Lisso (Leipsoi)
Nisiro (Nisyros)
Patmo (Patmos)
Piscopi (Tilos)
Rodi (Rhodes)
Scarpanto (Karpathos)
Simi (Symi)
Stampalia (Astypalaia)

Italy maintained Italian Post Offices at times for various reasons in foreign countries. Similar "Offices Abroad" were maintained by Great Britain, Austria, France, and Germany. 

For Italy, the "Offices" included China (Peking, Tientsin), Crete, Africa (Bengasi, Tripoli), and the Turkish Empire (Albania, Constantinople, Jania, Jerusalem, Salonika, Scutari, Smyrna, Valona).

Finally, the Austro-Hungarian Empire occupied a section of Italy during WW I.

Fruli-Veneto area
Austro-Hungarian forces occupied the Fruli-Veneto area, and issued overprinted Austro-Hungarian Military Post stamps in 1918.
Postage Due 1890-91 Scott J27 30c on 2c, surcharged in black
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classsic Specialized catalogue has the following "BOB" categories for Italy...

Pneumatic Post (1913-1945)- 18 major descriptions  ( 8 are CV <$8)
Special Delivery (1903-1933)- 17 major descriptions ( 13 are CV <$2+)
Authorized Delivery (1928-30)- 2 major descriptions ( 2 are CV <$1)
Postage Due (1863-1934)- 40 major descriptions ( 18 are CV <$2+)
Official (1875)- 8 major descriptions ( 4 are CV <$4)
Newspaper (1862)- 1 major descriptions ( 1 is CV $50+)
Parcel Post (1884-1939)- 36 major descriptions ( 16 are CV <$5)
(Austrian) Occupation (1918)- 46 major descriptions ( 28 are CV <$1)
Italian Offices Abroad (Total- 1874-1923)-  302 major stamp descriptions
Aegean Islands (1912-1940- 542 major stamp descriptions
Total = 1012 major stamp descriptions

That is a lot of stamps. ;-) The Italian Offices Abroad and Aegean Islands categories have 844 major descriptions, and tend to be fairly expensive ($1+- $10). The WW classical collector might not have that many examples, unless a special interest is developed. I certainly could use more. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues

Pneumatic Post
Pneumatic tubes, which have cylinders moving within the tubes, can transport mail. Italy issued pneumatic post stamps, which resemble the Special Delivery stamps.

1913-28 Scott D1 10c brown
"Victor Emmanuel III" 
An 8 stamp issue for this service was produced between 1913-28. Another 6 stamps were surcharged between 1924-27. For a CV of $2+-$8, eight stamps can be found for these issues. Clearly, the service was viable, as Pneumatic post stamps were being produced through 1945.

Special Delivery 
 1922 Scott E11 60c on 50c dull red
"Victor Emmanuel III" 
Some 17 Special Delivery stamps were produced between 1903-1933. An example is illustrated above. They tend to be not expensive, with CV <$4 for 14 stamps.

Authorized Delivery
 1928 Scott EY1 10c dull blue
An interesting concept - pay a tax for authorized private correspondence if NOT using the postal service. ;-)
Only two stamps were issued: one in 1928, and one in 1930. Do any readers know more about this "tax", and reason?

Postage Due
1870-1925 Scott J9 40c buff & magenta
Between 1870-1925, a 18 stamp issue was produced for postage due as illustrated. CV is a modest <$1-$4 for 9 stamps.

Three stamps of this issue were surcharged in black, and used in 1890-91. I show an example earlier in the post.
1903 Scott J22 50 l yellow
Between 1884-1903, there were 4 stamps used that were intended for internal Post Office accounting. These stamps are actually not found in the mail. They have a rather high CV ($20-$80).

1934 Scott J31 25c green "Coat of Arms"
1945-46 Scott J44 25c green "Coat of Arms", redesigned
In 1934, a 13 stamp issue was produced with the first "Coat of Arms" design ( CV <$1 for 11 stamps). 

Look carefully at the "Coat of Arms" portion, because it is often confused with the 1945-46 issue, which is also illustrated. The problem is the Classic Specialized catalogue does not alert one about the 1945-46 issue. The Big Blue feeder albums I have had the issues mixed up. And I had the issues confused until I realized my error. A word to the wise. ;-)

1875 Scott O1 2c lake
These stamp may look a bit familiar, as a blue surcharge was applied in 1877, and used for regular postage. The original- and only- Official issue consisted of 8 stamps, and was produced in 1875. CV is $3+-$6+ for five stamps.

Parcel Post
1884-86 Scott Q3 50c claret
The first parcel post issue of 1884-86 consisted of 8 stamps in different colors, as shown. CV ranges from $10-$25 for 4 stamps.

1914-22 Scott Q7 5c brown
Beginning in 1914, an interesting change in the procedure for parcel post was instituted. The left side stamp was on the parcel, while the right side stamp was on the receipt for the sender. Each stamp is considered a "half". Used Halves are usually considerable cheaper than an intact mint whole. For instance, Q7-Q19 halves are <$1-$6+, while a unused whole is $5+-$125.

In most collections, though, used "half" stamps are found. It is perfectly acceptable to put a used left and right side back together in the collection. Be careful, though, as this design is sometimes confused with the next issue.
1932 Scott Q26 25c red
Between 1927-39, another issue was produced, this time with 13 stamps. Many more of these in collections can be found whole mint - 10 of them with CV <$1.

But there is an important detail to notice. Each stamp towards the center of the two-stamp design has a "Fasces", a bundle of wooden sticks with an ax blade sticking out. Identify the "Fasces", as the next issues differ in design here.
1945 Scott Q46 4 l gray
Notice the overprint over the Fasces?
In 1945, the issue was overprinted between Halves in black as illustrated. If one has an overprint on a stamp, the stamp is a 1945 issue, not the 1927-39 issue. I've seen the 1945 stamp put in Big Blue when it shouldn't be there.
1946 Scott Q57 3 l yellow orange
Fasces is removed
Finally in 1946, there was an issue with the Fasces removed. Observe. I've found a lot of confusion between the 1927-39, 1945, and 1946 issues in Big Blue. One might want to check one's own collection. ;-)

Austrian occupation
1918 Scott N4 6c on 5h olive green
"Emperor Karl of Austria"
Nineteen Military Fieldpost Austrian stamps were overprinted in 1918 for the occupation of Italian lands in the Fruli-Veneto area (See map). CV is quite inexpensive: All are <$1.

Special Delivery 1918 Scott NE1  3c on 2h vermilion
Bosnia QE1 surcharged
It is hard to tell from the scan, but the paper is yellow for this Special Delivery stamp. Reprints are found on white paper. CV is $5+.

Italian Offices Abroad
1874-78 Scott 1 1c olive green
Italian stamps with corner design altered, and overprinted "Estero"
The "General Issue" for Italian Offices Abroad, used in various parts of the world (South America, Africa. Turkey etc) was produced with 11 stamps in 1874-78, and 6 stamps in 1881. Of interest, they are NOT the same as the Italian regular issues- they vary by the corner design. (Check your collection to see the difference, or review the Italy 1862-1925 post.)

CV for these general issues is somewhat high: $8-$30 for many.

There are  some 74 stamps from `1917-19 in the Offices in China (Peking, Tientsin) category. A few are inexpensive ( 19 stamps- $3+-$4+), but the others are costly- and I have no examples at the moment. ;-)

Offices in Crete
1906 Scott 4 2c orange brown
"Offices in Crete" overprinted stamps were issued between 1900-1912. Some 20 stamps are in the catalogue with 8 stamps CV $1+-$2+. 

Offices in the Turkish Empire
1908 Scott 5 30pa on 15c slate
There are 66 stamps issued for the "Offices in the Turkish Empire" general category. Stamps were issued between 1908-1923. The Treaty of Lausanne closed the offices on October 27, 1923. Of this group, 20 stamps are CV $1+-$4.
1909-11 Scott 2 20pa on 10c claret
The Turkish Empire area has a number of cities with their own overprints.

Constantinople overprinted stamps were issued between 1909-1923. Some 29 stamps were produced with a CV of $1+-$2+ for 19 stamps.

Some other cities that have overprinted stamps include Durazzo, Jerusalem, Scutari, and Valona.

1909-11 Scott 2 20pa on 10c claret
Salonika had 8 stamps issued between 1909-11. CV for 6 stamps is $1+-$4. Salonika, or Thessaloniki is in central Macedonia.
1909-11 1pi on 25c blue
Smyrna had 13 stamps issued between 1909-1922. CV for 8 stamps is $1+-$4. Smyrna (now Izmir) is on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands stamp issues, between 1912-1940, are divided among General Issues ( 116 stamps), Rhodes, the Capital and the center of population (107 stamps), and the other individual islands (319 stamps).
Virgil Issue; General Issue-Aegean Islands
1930 Scott 6 30c light brown, overprinted in blue
A number of the Italian commemorative issues from the 1930s were overprinted for the general issues of the Aegean islands. The 9 stamp Virgil issue, illustrated above, has a CV of $1+-$4+.

1938 Scott 57 1.25 l deep blue, overprinted in red
Aegean Islands General Issue
An Italian painter, Giotti di Bondone, was honored on an Italian issue on the 600th anniversary of his death.
This issue was used, as illustrated, in an overprinted version for the Aegean islands.

Rhodes 1916 Scott 5 20c orange, overprinted
1912-24 Issue
With the occupation of the Aegean islands in 1912, a thirteen stamp issue was overprinted for Rhodes (Rodi). CV is <$1-$3+ for 8 stamps.

Rhodes 1932 Scott 61 1.25 l deep blue
"Crusader Kneeling in Prayer"
In 1929, with the visit of King Victor Emmanuel III to Rhodes, a nine stamp issue was produced. Although inscribed "Rodi" the stamps were sold in all the Aegean islands. CV is <$1-$1+ for 7 stamps. Note the 1929 issue has no imprint at the foot of the stamp.

In 1932, a "1929 Rhodes Issue Type" was issued, again with the same designs and denomination, but some in subtle different colors, and all with the foot imprint "Officina Carte-Valori Roma". The illustrated stamp is from this issue.

One should mention that Rhodes is the only Aegean island that had stamps produced that were not just simply overprinted Italian stamps.

Rhodes air post 1935 Scott C1
"Symbolical of Flight"
The Rhodes four stamp air post issue of 1935 is found also with minor numbers, with the "Crown -wmk 140" found sideways. CV is <$1 for 3 stamps.

Rhodes Postage Due 1934 Scott J9 2 l purple
Rhodes had a postage due issue in 1934, 9 stamps with a CV of $3+. One can also find Special Delivery and Parcel Post category stamps.

Stampalia (Astypalaia) 1930 Scott 14 50c black, red overprint
"Fabrizio Maramaldo Killing Ferrucci"
All of the occupied major Aegean islands had overprinted stamps produced. Illustrated above is a "Stampalia" (What an appropriate name for a stamp collector ;-) Island stamp for the 5 stamp overprinted Ferucci issue. CV is $3+-$6+ for the stamps in the set.

Deep Blue
Offices in the Turkish Empire in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 83 pages for the "BOB" categories covered with this post. Steiner follows the Scott catalogue with spaces for all major numbers.

Clearly, a surfeit of pages for this area for the general classical WW collector, unless one has a special interest or a deep Italian collection. ;-)

Postage Due 1934 Scott J36 1 l red orange
"Coat of Arms"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on seven pages, has 8 spaces for Special Delivery, 9 spaces for Parcel Post, 14 spaces for Postage Due, 27 spaces for (Austria) Occupation, 7 spaces for Italian Offices abroad-general issue, 14 spaces for Offices in China, 8 spaces for Offices in Crete, 6 spaces for Offices in Tripoli, 7 spaces for Offices in the Turkish Empire-general issues, 38 spaces for Aegean islands- general issue, and 33 spaces for Rhodes. There is a separate blank page for the individual island issues for the Aegean islands. Considering that ~36 stamps could be put on the blank page, there is a total of ~199 spaces.

Total coverage for these "BOB" areas (1012 major stamp descriptions in Scott) is then ~ 19+%.

• There are 18 stamp spaces in BB for these categories with CV >$10. Of those, 7 spaces cross the $35 "Most expensive" barrier.

But, there are two "Offices in China" stamps- (1918-19  (Peking) Scott 22 1/2c on 1c brown, and 1918-19 (Tiensin) Scott 15 1/2c on 1c brown) that are CV $140! Wow! And to rub salt in the wounds: There are  other stamps in the issue that BB could have put in for a CV of $4+. !!

Then there is the 1933 Aegean Islands Air Post Scott C20-C23 issue, four stamps, each with a CV of $60.

The reality is Italian BOB categories are fairly expensive, so I suppose it is not unexpected that there will be some costly ones in BB.

• It should be noted that the '69 editors cut some BOB sections/stamp spaces out of BB.

Pneumatic Post Section not in the '69
The '41-'43-'47 editions had another line (6 spaces) for the "1870-1903" postage dues. More importantly, the earlier editions had a 8 space "Pneumatic Post" category section.

 Offices in the Turkish Empire Blank Page
Found in earlier editions
The earlier editions also had a blank page for the "Office in the Turkish Empire" overprinted issues from specific cities/areas- Albania, Constantinople, Jerusalem etc. If one has some example stamps from these areas (likely), then a quadrilled page might be in order if one has the '69/'97 edition.

Of interest, the earlier editions had two blank pages, rather than one, for the stamps of the Aegean Islands
1912-32, overprinted for use on islands Calchi, Calino, Caso, Coo, Lero, Lisso, Nisiro, Patmo, Piscopi, Scarpanto, Simi, and Stampalia.


Special Delivery






Parcel Post


Postage Due


Next Page

Occupation (Austria)


Occupation-Postage due

Italian Offices Abroad-General issue


Next page

Offices in China
1918-19 (actually 1917-19)
(Pechino (Peking))

Offices in Crete


(Offices in Crete)-Special Delivery

Offices in Tripoli

(Offices in Tripoli)-Special Delivery

Offices in the Turkish Empire (General Issues)


Next Page

Aegean Islands (General issues)



Next Page

Aegean Islands (General issues)

(Aegean Islands) Air Post




Next Page




Air Post (Rhodes)

Special Delivery (Rhodes)

Postage Due (Rhodes)

Parcel Post (Rhodes)

Next Page

Aegean Islands
1912-32 overprinted for use on islands (other than Rhodes)
(Calchi, Calino, Caso, Coo, Lero, Lisso, Nisiro, Patmo, Piscopi, Scarpanto, Simi, Stampalia)

Blank page- choose ~36 stamps among 319 major stamp descriptions for the above islands in the Scott catalogue.


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1914-22 Parcel post Q10 25c red ($10+)
1874-78 Italian Offices Abroad Scott 1 1c olive green ($20+)
1874-78 Italian Offices Abroad Scott 2 2c orange brown ($30+)
1874-78 Italian Offices Abroad Scott 3 5c slate green ($47+)
1917-18 Offices in China (Peking) Scott 12 1c brown ($20)
1917-18 Offices in China (Peking) Scott 13 2c orange brown ($20)
1918-19 Offices in China (Peking) Scott 22 1/2c on 1c brown ($140) !
1917-18 Offices in China (Tientsin) Scott 5 1c brown ($20)
1917-18 Offices in China (Tiensin) Scott 6 2c orange brown ($20)
1918-19 Offices in China (Tiensin) Scott 15 1/2c on 1c brown ($140) !
1933 Aegean Islands air post Scott C22 10 l dark green ($60) !
1933 Aegean Islands air post (Scott C20) 3 l olive brown ($60) !
1933 Aegean Islands air post (Scott C21) 5 l deep violet ($60) !
1933 Aegean Islands air post (Scott C23) 12 l dark blue ($60) !
1932 Rhodes Scott 45 10c brown ($10+)
1932 Rhodes Scott 46 20c red brown ($10+)
1932 Rhodes (Scott 47) 25c deep green ($10+)
1932 Rhodes (Scott 48) 30c bluish slate ($10+)

B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice

C)*J7 is "orange and magenta" in BB, a description also found in the '47 Scott catalogue. But the 2011 catalogue has "buff and magenta",as are all the other descriptions for this issue.

Austrian Occupation Newspaper 1918 Scott NP1 3c on 2h blue
Out of the Blue
I've been been anticipating Italy for a long time. A major philatelic country and collection area by any measure, it has been a pleasure for me to get to know better these magnificently designed Italian stamps.

Note: Italian Aegean Islands map appears to be in the public domain.

Italy - Bud's Big Blue

Would love to read your comments!


  1. Thanks for this great series about Italian stamps. I often read what you've posted and don't comment -- as I imagine many others do,-- but I do look regularly at your excellent comments. It helps my own collecting immensely. It's always helpful to hear the insights of another collector about things I've also wondered about.

    Italy is an excellent area to collect with all of its "stages" of government, its territories and colonies and BOB stamps, very complex without being overly daunting. Except for the earliest Italian states, of course, which get very expensive very fast. I can't bring myself to cut off my collecting interests for Italy anywhere near 1940, but go decades beyond that.

    Fascinating stamps and very helpful comments about them -- and about the way Big Blue treats them. Great stuff. Keep it up.

  2. Thanks Drew

    I always appreciate your comments.

    I agree it is difficult to cut off at 1940, especially with Italy. Actually I do collect up to 1950 or so, but limit the blog to what is covered in the Scott Classic catalogue.

  3. I recall collecting back in the 70s that it was easy to get a representative sample of the individual Aegean Island stamps for pennies - all I had as a teen. Nowadays, not so much. Wish I had bought as many as I could back then.

    1. True that.

      On the other hand, I think older stamps are cheaper now to obtain in general (relatively speaking) then they were back in the 1960s and 1970s.

  4. From Ray..
    On the Italy BOB section, I mentioned about a month ago: With I’m sure 100% of all other BB collectors, I basically hate the way that Scott used the 2-blank pages for the Aegean Islands (1-blank page in later editions I’ve read in other sections of the Blog), and I have made a decision on how to remedy this for my ’47 BB. I was fortunate to win one of Ken Relya’s auctions in August, which was a collection of Italian colonies in a BB binder, on Vintage Reprint pages. I just absolutely loved the pages, and I’ve decided to keep the pages for Italy Offices, and will use these pages a la a “Deep” Blue, at least for the Italy Offices (Aegean’s included). Again, many affordable stamps are included in this area, and it was unfortunate that Scott hasn’t paid more attention.

  5. Hi Jim - I am researching how letters might have been mailed from the Island of Rhodes to Ceuta (the Spanish city-state on the northern tip of Africa, next to Morocco) in the 1930's. Would they have been delivered by sea and is there a way I can find out more. Really appreciate your help with this!

    1. Hi Joyce

      Gosh, I don't know. You may have to find an Italian postal history specialist for that question. All the best! Jim