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...

Friday, August 28, 2015

San Marino

1918 Scott B10 2 l violet & black "View of San Marino"
Quick History
The Republic of San Marino, all 24 square miles of it, is located on the north-eastern side of the Apennine Mountains on the Italian Peninsula twenty miles from the Adriatic Sea, and surrounded by Italy.

San Marino and the Italian Peninsula
Saint Marinus of Arba founded a church on Monte Titano on September 3, 301, and thereby began the city and state of San Marino.

The Papacy recognized the independence of San Marino in 1631.

The independence was threatened by Napoleon's army in 1797, but Regent Antonio Onofri, through his friendship with Napoleon, was able to protect the Republic.

When Italy unified during the 19th century, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian patriot, agreed to not incorporate San Marino into the developing Italian state.

Stamps, with the "Coat of Arms" design, were introduced in 1877.

We will meet all of these historical characters through their images on San Marino stamps.

Map of San Marino
During WW I, there was diplomatic tension with both Italy and Austria-Hungary, as San Marino attempted to stay neutral.

Between 1923 and 1943, the country was under the rule of the Sammarinese Fascist Party (PFS), closely allied with the Mussolini regime.

The population was 14,545 in 1939.

"Republic of San Marino -Neutral State" Sign 
Border of San Marino during WW II
During WW II, San Marino again attempted to remain neutral. When Benito Mussolini's government collapsed in Italy, the PFS rule also fell.

Nevertheless, the Royal Air Force bombed San Marino on June 26, 1944, killing 35 people, in the belief that the Germans were stockpiling supplies there..

In September 1944, it was occupied by German forces, who were then driven out by the Allies in the Battle of San Marino.

San Marino had a democratically elected communist government between 1945 and 1957.

1910 Scott 78 1c brown, Type II
"Coat of Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for San Marino 1877-1940, 345 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 96 are CV <$1-$1+, or 28%. San Marino is somewhat expensive for the WW classical era collector, as one would expect for an  attractive "postage stamp" size country situated in Italy and Europe.

When I was much younger, I was fascinated with the "postage stamp" sized countries- Monaco, Liechtenstein, and, of course, San Marino. And it seemed like H.E.Harris knew this also. Glowing approval descriptions had their effect on the young child's imagination, until it became certain that "tiny" and "rare" were interlinked. And, I must admit, the psychology is still there. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centesimi = 1 Lira
1877 Scott 1 2c green "Numeral"
"Liberty" is found on many San Marino stamps, as the tiny Republic has indeed managed that. The first typographed issue had the lower three denomination stamps with a "Numeral" design (1877-1895).

1892 Scott 18 40c dark brown "Coat of Arms"
The "Coat of Arms" design is found on 21 stamps between 1877-1899. CV is $10+ for fourteen stamps, although no gum unused may be less.
Coat of Arms of San Marino
The COA features three hills --the three summits of Monte Titano. On them are three towers- the citadels La Guaita, La Cesta, and La Montale. Each has an ostrich feather design weather vane on top. 

1894 Scott 29 25c blue & dark brown
"Government Palace"
For the opening of the new Government Palace, and the installation of new Regents, a  three stamp bi-color lithographed issue was released in 1894.

1899 Scott 32 2c brown "Statue of Liberty"
An eight stamp "Statue of Liberty" issue was used in San Marino between 1899-1922. CV ranges from <$1-$4+.

Top Left: Wmk 174 "Coat of Arms"; Top Right: Wmk 217 "Three Plumes"
Bottom: Wmk 140 "Crown"
San Marino has some issues that are unwatermarked, while other discrete and different issues are watermarked. (In other words, one will not find the same stamp issue on both watermarked and unwatermarked paper.)

Here are the three watermarks that can be found for the classical era.

 The "Statue of Liberty" issue shown above has the "Crown" watermark. The 1894 "Government Palace" issue, already illustrated, has the "Coat of Arms" watermark, which has a shield with a large cross in the center. Finally, the "Three Plumes" watermark can be found on issues after 1929. 

Since there is no confusion, fortunately, in terms of identification for a specific issue, I will say no more about unwatermarking/watermarking.

1903 Scott 45 10c claret "Mt. Titano"
The most prolific (37 stamps), and probably most familiar issue for classical collectors, is the "Mt. Titano" typographed  stamp of 1903-1925. It clearly shows the three summits- and citadels- of Mt. Titano. CV ranges from <$1-$7+ for 25 stamps. On the other extreme, the 2 lire violet is $400+. !

I should mention that, for many of the earlier issues of San Marino, the perfs often cut into the design.

1923 Scott 81 30c dark brown
"St. Marinus"
Marinus, a stonemason by training, fled to Mt. Titano to live as a hermit, and founded a monastery and chapel in 301. When he died in 366, legend says he uttered "I leave you free from both men". The cryptic phrase was interpreted as referring to the two powers of the day, the Emperor and the Pope. The "Freedom Affirmation", even if apocryphal,  has been the inspiration for tiny San Marino to continue going their own way.

1924 Scott 87 1l deep blue
"San Marino Sheltering Garibaldi'
When the Italian patriot for unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi, needed help, San Marino offered shelter and refuge. For this, Garibaldi, in turn, acceded to the wishes of the inhabitants of San Marino to not be incorporated into the new Italian state.

For the 75th anniversary of Garibaldi taking refuge in San Marino, a five stamp issue was released in 1924.

1926 Scott 101 1l orange & black
"Antonio Onofri"
An engraved six stamp set was issued in 1926 in honor of the Regent Antonio Onofri, whose friendship with Napoleon maintained tiny San Marino's independence. Four stamps have CV <$1-$1+.

1927 Scott 109 1.25l blue "War Memorial"
Although San Marino was neutral during WW I, a group of San Marino volunteers did join Italian forces. A three stamp set was issued in 1927 in their memory.

1929 Scott 127 2.50l carmine rose & ultramarine
"Government Palace"
A nice engraved bi-color nineteen stamp issue was released between 1929 and 1935 with three designs.

Please click on and enlarge the 2.50 lire carmine rose & ultramarine stamp illustrated above, and just enjoy!

1932 Scott 144 20c violet "Garibaldi"
An eight stamp set was released in 1932 featuring Garibaldi (1807-1882) on two designs. The last stamp of the issue, a 5 lira olive green, is quite expensive @ $340, and also has a space in Big Blue. !

1935 Scott 167 1.25l blue & black
"Ascent to Mt. Titano"
San Marino was ruled by a fascist government between 1923 and 1943, closely allied with Mussolini's fascist regime. For the 12th year anniversary of the founding of the fascist movement, a seven stamp set was released.

1935 Scott 172 15c rose carmine
"Melchiorre Delfico"
A twelve stamp engraved bi-color issue was released in 1935 in honor of Melchiorre Delfico (1744-1835), Italian economist and historian. His published works corrected many abuses, including the abolition of feudal rights over landed property and their sale.

I'm not sure why San Marino wanted to honor him, though?

1918 Scott B13 25c ultramarine & black, Overprinted
"Statue of Liberty"
For the celebration of Italian victory over Austria, six stamps from the previous 1918 semi-postal issue were overprinted as shown. The previous 1918 semi-postals were sold at a 5 Centesimi advance over face value to support a hospital for Italian soldiers. So much for neutrality. ;-)

1923 Scott E3 60c on 25c carmine
Type of 1907 Special Delivery Issue Surcharged
The original special delivery stamp of this design was released in 1907. It was then surcharged in 1923 (illustrated above), and again in 1927.

Postage Due Stamps
1897 Scott J1 5c blue green & dark brown;
 1925 Scott J19 5c blue & brown;
1939 Scott J61 5c blue & brown
San Marino's postage due stamps are rather functional, but some attention needs to be directed to distinguish the various issues based on color and script.

Postage Due Stamps of 1925 Surcharged in Black and Silver
1931 Scott 48 40c on 30c blue & brown;
1931 Scott 40 20c on 5c blue & brown (reverse)
The 1925 postage due issue was subsequently surcharged in black and silver in 1931. The problem, for me, is the surcharge is so heavily applied on many of the stamps, that it is difficult to determine the underlying value. Sometimes, turning the stamp over (reverse) will reveal the underlying value. But I am also left with a number of "unknowns' in my collection. ;-)

Deep Blue
1877-99 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 24 pages for the classic era San Marino. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

1924 Scott 85 50c olive brown 
"Giuseppe Garibaldi"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on six pages, has 146 spaces.

Coverage is 42%.

The '69 editors rearranged the first page, and compared to the 1940s editions, offers slightly better coverage. The '69 editors also offer more spaces for the 1931 air mail issue. (Overall, the 1940s editions have 140 spaces.)

As I mentioned earlier, San Marino stamps can be expensive. And the BB collector is unfortunately not immune. In BB, there are eighteen stamp spaces that are in the "expensive" category ($10+-$30).

And there would have been even more, except for a "trick" I pulled to make the  1877-99 "Numeral" and "Coat of Arms" Issue (eleven spaces) not included. Conventional CV ranges from $11- $19. But they all are also listed in the catalogue as unused "no gum" for under $10. Therefore I am not formally including them in the "expensive" category, although one may still need to pay in that range to obtain a specific stamp.

What about the "Most Expensive" ($35+) category?

Hold on to your hats, because there are nine stamps in that range. 

The 1932 "General Post Office" issue (Scott 134-138) have two stamps @ $190 and $105.

The 1932 "Garibaldi" Issue has Scott 150 5l olive green @ $340!!!!!!

And the 1935 "Statue of Delfico" stamp (Scott 180) 1.75l brown orange is $100.

A list of all the "most expensive" and "expensive" stamps is provided under the Comments section following the checklist.


1,2,3,6,7 or 8,9,


40,41,42 or 43,45,48,51,53,



78 or 78a,

Next Page










Next Page

1932 "General Post Office"*

1932 "Garibaldi" *


Next Page


Next Page



Postage Due
J1 or J10 or J19,J2 or J11 or J20,J24,J26,J27,(J28),


Parcel Post

Next Page

Special Delivery

Semi-Postal Special Delivery

Air Post


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
* 1877-99 "Numeral" and "Coat of Arms" Issue
There are eleven spaces for the issue (Scott 1,2,3,6,7 or 8,9,
11,14,16,18,19), and conventional CV ranges from $11- $19. But they all are listed in the catalogue as unused "no gum" for under $10. Therefore I am not formally including them in the "expensive" category, although one may still need to pay in that range to obtain a specific stamp.

1903 Scott 53 25c blue ($10+)
1905 Scott 77 15c on 20c brown orange ($10+)
1928 Scott 111 50c red ($10+)
1928 Scott 112 1.25l deep blue ($10+)
1932 Scott 134 20c blue green ($20+)
1932 Scott 135 50c dark red ($20+)
1932 Scott 136 1.25l dark blue ($190) !!!!
1932 Scott 137 1.75l dark brown ($105) !
1932 Scott 138 2.75l dark violet ($60)
1932 Scott 141 1.25l dark blue ($10+)
1932 Scott 146 50c yellow brown ($10)
1932 Scott 147 75c dark red ($20+)
1932 Scott 148 1.25l dark blue ($30)
1932 Scott 149 2.75l brown orange ($60)
1932 Scott 150 5l olive green ($340) !!!!!!
1935 Scott 172 15c rose carmine ($20+)
1935 Scott 177 75c red ($10+)
1935 Scott 179 1.50l dark brown ($70)
1935 Scott 180 1.75l brown orange ($100) !
1931 Scott C1 50c blue green ($20+)
1931 Scott C2 80c red ($20+)
1931 Scott C3 1l bister brown ($10+)
1931 Scott C4 2l bright violet ($10+)
1931 Scott C8 7.70l dark brown ($10+)
1931 Scott C9 9l deep orange ($10+)
1931 Scott (C5) 2.60l prussian blue ($65)
1931 Scott (C6) 3l dark gray ($55)
B) *1932 "General Post Office"Issue (5 stamps)-very expensive! ($20+-$190)
C) *1932 "Garibaldi" Issue - Five stamps range from CV $10-$340!!!!
D) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1923 Scott B24 1l + 5c black & blue "Liberty"
Out of the Blue
I've been more interested in obtaining the classical era stamps of San Marino than, perhaps, most other countries. Could it be that child in me that still equates "tiny" and "rare"? ;-)

Note: Maps, "Coat of Arms" image, and border pic of San Marino during WW II appear to be in the public domain.

Comments always welcome!


  1. In 2014, as my husband and I drove and birded across Europe, we made a point of visiting every country. Naturally, this included the "postage stamp" sized countries of Monaco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City, and, of course, San Marino.

    Standing on a rampart of the Guaita Fortress on the windblown summit of Mt. Titano, we literally felt like being on top of the world! We were quite impressed with the vista of the Adriatic coastline, the Apennine Mountains, and the high level view view of the Italian countryside. For this reason, I have an affinity with the stamps of San Marino that feature the impressive Mt. Titano.

    1. I'm jealous. ;-)

      I've not been to San Marino.

      Gina - Thanks for the impression of your visit.

  2. Hi Jim, I think the semi-postal special delivery stamp should be EB-1, not CB-1. Kind regards, Troy

    1. Troy - yes, that makes sense. Changed. Thanks!