Italian Postmen in Uniform, ca 1861Bud's Big Blue
The main problem with filling BB’s Italy spaces: Italian stamp dealers try to corner the market on the few stamps that are not readily available in feeder albums, then ask a fortune for them. Catalogs too often reflect these ridiculous mark-ups. So, the world-wide collector either waits for reasonably priced examples to come along (and they do, occasionally), or lives with permanent blank spaces.
Well, I mostly waited, but I did capitulate in a few instances, such as the Italian zeps with tabs and the Aegean zeps. The price for these could have paid for a small Italian car (used, of course). They didn’t make the cut for BB pages proper, though, so they’re found in the supplement pages. Sigh.
If I were to select a single country’s stamps as a tool for studying the sweep of Western European history, both ancient and modern, Italy would be the obvious best choice. It seems almost as if Italian stamp designers intended to educate, if not propagandize, the postage-using public. Before and even during the Fascist era this tendency surfaces, but it reaches fruition post WWII. Add a few early Italian stampless covers (which trace back as far as the 14th century in Lombardy) and you’ve got something more enlightening than a college textbook.
Census: 617 in BB spaces, 15 tip-ins, 465 on supplement pages many of which have Aegean Islands overprints. The Aegeans had a separate section in BB’s earlier editions.
For the 1962-1925 period, there are 171 major number stamps. 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.
I really enjoyed putting the classical issues of Italy into Deep Blue. And ,with few exceptions, they are not difficult to identify either.
The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1926 ( and beginning with Scott 178) to 1939, 224 major numbers. Contrary to the earlier issues, commemoratives far outnumber definitives.
They can be divided into three categories...
• Saints and scenes of the Holy Catholic Church. Mussolini, with his anti-Communist opposition, convinced many Catholics to actively support him. Still, it is jarring to see an issue devoted to St. Anthony, while the next issue is glorifying fascistic expansionism.
• Issues devoted to scientists (Volta, Galvani, Marconi), literature (Dante, Horace), music (Stradivarius, Bellini) and athletic games (University games, Soccer Championship). In other words, the usual subject fare for most countries. But by glorifying the Italian past accomplishments with the present government, it lent legitimacy to the fascists.
• "Propaganda" stamps- either covert or overt. We will see indeed how well the stamp medium works to convey the emotionalism of the fascist movement.
The Italian Offices Abroad and Aegean Islands categories have 844 major descriptions, and tend to be fairly expensive ($1+- $10). That is a lot of stamps. The WW classical collector might not have that many examples, unless a special interest is developed. I certainly could use more.
Italy Blog Posts and BB Checklists