Italy‘s national postage stamps have been issued since 1862, when the various Italian states were unified as the Kingdom of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel II. The King was featured on the very first stamps, which did not show the name of the country, but were inscribed with the value and FRANCO BOLLO (Italian for postage stamp). In 1863, stamps with the inscription FRANCO BOLLO ITALIANO were issued, again showing the King. POSTE ITALIANE would also be used, proving to be the preferred inscription for many decades.
King Humbert I (a.k.a. Umberto) was crowned in 1878, and from that point appeared on several stamps in Italy; he would be assassinated in 1900, and succeeded by Victor Emmanuel III who ruled until 1946. The new king oversaw the world’s very first issue of air post stamps, in 1917.
Italian stamps throughout the reign of Victor Emmanuel III continued to use the inscription POSTE ITALIANE, although occasionally the shorter ITALIA would be used. The King also supported the fascists, led by Benito Mussolini, and the government would become a dictatorship (with the country of Italy remaining a Kingdom) in 1922 under Mussolini. In World War II, Mussolini was killed, the fascists fell, and in 1946 Humbert II (Umberto II) became King.
King Humbert II’s reign lasted less than a month; the Italian people voted to abolish the monarchy and become a modern republic. A new constitution, approved in 1948, was commemorated on a postage stamp that same year, bearing the legend PROCLAMAZIONE DELLA COSTITUZIONE.
In 1952, the inscription on stamps changed to REPUBBLICA ITALIANA, sometimes shortened to REP. ITALIANA, sometimes with the ‘U‘ shaped like a ‘V‘, and sometimes with the word POSTE added. In 1956, POSTE ITALIANE was revived, but in 1969 it was changed again, to the simple ITALIA, which has been the preferred phrase ever since.
Modern Italian stamps have featured a wide range of subjects, including Italian history, art, movies, music, sports, famous Italian heroes and buildings, Christian scenes, and much more. Philatelic collectibles, like maximum cards, souvenir sheets, and joint issues abound. Check our subcategories for the latest items, which are updated every day.
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