We’ve already talked about the rarest stamps from Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, and Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Israel, and Vatican. Today we’ll take a look at the rarest and most valuable Italian stamps.
We won’t go with this list in the chronological order but starting from the 5th most valuable stamp and finishing with the most valuable Italian stamp. As expected, stamps from the 20th century are somehow less valuable than those from the 19th century. These will be our number 5 and number 4 on the list of the most valuable Italian stamps.
Italian Flag, Portrait of Victor Emmanuel III, Aurora
Italy – 1933/05/20
55,000 USD at Cherrystone auction in September 2013
First of these 2 valuable stamps are Balbo Triptychs issued in 1933 to commemorate Trans-Atlantic flight led by General Italo Balbo.
Italian Levant Airmail stamp
Italy – 1922
70,000 USD at Cherrystone auction on March 20-21, 2018
The second stamp, and the 4th most valuable Italian stamp on our list is an Italian Levant Airmail stamp issued in 1922. It’s considered that only 5 pieces exist today.
Lombardy Venetia 5c Yellow Ochre
Coat of Arms of Austria
5 Lombardy-Venetia centesimo
Lombardy-Venetia – 1850/06/01
78,099 USD at Universal Philatelic Auction, December 22, 2014
The 19th century history across Europe has been full of great changes and important events. Same stands for Italy, maybe even more than for other European countries of that time. Modern day Italy had been split into many kingdoms, and some of the most powerful and important were: Papal States, Kingdom of Sardinia, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia (under Austrian Empire), Kingdom of Illyria (under Austrian Empire), Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Above we can see Lombardy Venetia 5c Yellow Ochre stamp from 1850, and it’s believed only 2 such pieces exist today.
Tuscany 4 Crazie with inverted value tablet
Lion of Tuscany
4 Italian States crazia
Tuscany – 1857/03/14
184,612 USD at David Feldman, May 22, 2010
It was a process that lasted for the most of the 19th century, called the restoration (and unification) period. I’ll quote Encyclopedia Britannica:
"Despite scant preparations and a shortage of weapons, Garibaldi’s volunteers landed at Marsala on May 11, 1860, and in less than three months conquered the entire island of Sicily."
"The Kingdom of Italy was officially proclaimed on March 17, 1861, by a parliament assembled in Turin. Soon afterward Cavour asserted that Rome must become the capital of the new state within a context of separation between secular and religious authority. However, with Cavour’s untimely death on June 6, 1861, the Roman Question remained unresolved."
From the philatelic point of view, this is important, because many of the rarest and most valuable Italian stamps date back to that period and were issued by Italian states before unification.
King Ferdinand II / Ferdinando II (of the Two Sicilies)
½ Italian States grano
Sicily – 1859/01/01
2,600,000 USD at Dreyfus Auction, June, 2011
The Sicilian Error of Colour stamp from 1859 is considered to be one of the rarest and most valuable Italian stamps, with prices ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is highly sought after by collectors due to its rarity, historical significance, and unique error of color.
The rarity of this stamp comes from the fact it should have been printed in yellow, but it was actually printed in blue. It’s believed that only 2 such stamps exist today.
Today we’ve seen some of the rarest and most valuable Italian stamps. While you wait for the next article in this series, feel free to take a look at the previous ones.
The Netherlands - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Dutch Stamps
Australia - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Australian Stamps