Postage stamps and postal history of Vatican City

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1929 Vatican City postage stamp featuring the image of Pope Pius XI 1929VaticanStamp.jpg
1929 Vatican City postage stamp featuring the image of Pope Pius XI

The Vatican post office has operated its own postal service and issued its own postage stamps since 1929.

Postage stamp small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage

A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage, who then affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover —that they wish to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse. The item is then delivered to its addressee.

Contents

The postal history of Vatican City begins shortly after its official foundation on 11 February 1929. Two days later, the Vatican post office began operating with supplies and equipment donated by the Italian government. Vatican City became a member of the Universal Postal Union on 1 June, [1] and then on 29 July Vatican City and Italy signed a postal agreement, going into effect on 1 August, providing for the routing of its mail through Rome. [2]

Postal history aspect of history

Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the study of the use of postage stamps and covers and associated postal artifacts illustrating historical episodes in the development of postal systems. The term is attributed to Robson Lowe, a professional philatelist, stamp dealer and stamp auctioneer, who made the first organised study of the subject in the 1930s and described philatelists as "students of science", but postal historians as "students of humanity". More precisely, philatelists describe postal history as the study of rates, routes, markings, and means.

Vatican City Independent city-state within Rome, Italy

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

First stamps

The first of August also saw the issuance of the first Vatican stamps (Italian stamps were used previously), in the "Conciliation" definitive series of 15 values. The low values, 5 to 75 centesmi, depicted the heraldic arms, while the higher values (80 centesmi to 10 lira) featured a full-face portrait of the reigning Pope Pius XI. [3]

Pope Pius XI 20th-century Catholic pope

Pope Pius XI, born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was head of the Catholic Church from 6 February 1922 to his death in 1939. He was the first sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929. He took as his papal motto, "Pax Christi in Regno Christi," translated "The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."

On 1 April 1933, the Vatican issued its first semi-postal stamps, a set of four marking the 24th Holy Year. On 31 May of the same year, the "Gardens and Medallions" definitives were issued. While the lowest value still depicted the coat of arms, higher values included views of the gardens and of St Peter's.

Semi-postal stamp

A semi-postal stamp or semipostal stamp, also known as a charity stamp, is a postage stamp issued to raise money for a particular purpose and sold at a premium over the postal value. Typically the stamp shows two denominations separated by a plus sign, but in many cases the only denomination shown is for the postage rate, and the postal customer simply pays the higher price when purchasing the stamps.

On 18 February 1939, just a little over Pius XI's death on 10 February, the arms stamps of 1929 were overprinted "SEDE VACANTE / MCMXXXIX". They remained valid until 3 March, the day after the election of Pope Pius XII.

Overprint

An overprint is an additional layer of text or graphics added to the face of a postage stamp, banknote or postal stationery after it has been printed. Post offices most often use overprints for internal administrative purposes such as accounting but they are also employed in public mail. The most well-recognized varieties are commemorative overprints which are produced for their public appeal and command significant interest in the field of philately.

Pope Pius XII 260th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was head of the Catholic Church from 2 March 1939 to his death. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.

Today

The Vatican has acquired a reputation for producing handsome and attractive issues in limited quantities (even today, the average production run for most issues is only between 300,000 and 500,000 stamps). Vatican stamps are produced under the authority of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State.

Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State responsible for issuing Vatican postal stamps and coins

The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State is responsible for issuing Vatican postal stamps and Vatican coins.

Much, but by no means all, of the mail handled by the Vatican is from tourists or official congregations of the Roman Curia. Many Romans, distrustful of the unreliable Italian post office, make weekly trips to the Vatican just to post their important letters. Italian stamps may not be used on Vatican mail nor vice versa. According to the Universal Postal Union, the Vatican post office is "one of the best postal systems in the world" and "more letters are sent each year, per inhabitant, from the Vatican's 00120 postal code than from anywhere else in the world."

See also

References and sources

Notes
  1. "Vatican". Member countries. Universal Postal Union . Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  2. Piazza, Daniel. "Pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939)". Arago: People, Postage and The Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum . Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  3. "Vatican: 30c Papal Arms single". Arago: People, Postage and The Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum . Retrieved 11 February 2015.
Sources

Further reading

Coordinates: 41°54′15″N12°27′22″E / 41.904290°N 12.456187°E / 41.904290; 12.456187

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