Sunday, January 12, 2014
Prior to the unification of Italy, it was divided into a number of independent states, known as the Italian States, most of which issued their own stamps. The Papal, or Roman, States, under the direct rule of the Pope, issued stamps from 1852 to 1868. The Roman States were the last of the feudal principalities to be
incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy when the Italians annexed them after France abandoned its garrisons in Rome during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
As with stamps of the German States, Italian States philately is a minefield laden with an abundance of reprints, fakes and forgeries. Consequently, prices of Italian States stamps have lagged. With the exception of the rarities, many Italian States stamps often can be purchased in F-VF+ condition for 25%-35% of Scott. Better items which seem questionable should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.
Two Roman States stamps worth considering are the high values of the 1852 Papal Arms Issue, the 50b Dull Blue and the 1sc Rose (Scott #10-11). 50,000 of the 50b and 10,000 of the 1sc were issued, and Scott '14 prices them at $16,000.- unused and $1,800.00 used for the 50b and $4,000.- unused and $3,600.- used for the 1sc.
The 50b is a rarity in unused condition, well beyond the affordability of most collectors, so I recommend purchase of it in used condition. The 1sc may is worth buying either unused or used. In either case, I reiterate that these stamps should be purchased only on condition of obtaining expertization.
The main attraction of better stamps of the Roman States, once the authenticity hurdle has been overcome, is their current multiple market appeal among collectors of the stamps of Italy, Italian States, and the Vatican, which is the Roman States' much-reduced modern remnant. Also, there is the potential for growth in the stamp collecting population among Catholics worldwide, of whom there are over 1.2 billion. Many live in developing countries in which the middle classes are expected to grow dramatically. All stamps of the Roman States and the Vatican may be viewed as Religion topicals, and these may be of interest to this new generation of collectors.
Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to view the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.