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The Most Expensive and Rare Stamps of Italy

April 27, 2019

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In this review, our readers will find the rarest stamps ever issued in Italy. Please note that, with the time, this list may require an update since stamps of this country are popular among collectors and new varieties are found quite often.

1859 Error of Color

Price Realized: €1,800,000

This is the most expensive postage stamp of the country. Its name is due to the fact that when it was printed, the color gamut was violated. The initial design of this stamp implied that it would be yellow, but for some reason, a small issue was printed in the blue color in 1859. Today, only two such copies exist.

1857 Crazie Stamp

Price Realized: $184,612


Nine years ago, this beautiful piece was offered at David Feldman auction. The uniqueness of this lot lies in the fact that this is the only stamp of this period with such error that is in such a perfect condition. In the middle of the 19th century, the postal office of Tuscany printed a series of stamps using a common frame. To create stamps with another denomination, they would only change the value tablets. For a very limited number of stamps, the tablet was inverted.

1850 Lombardy & Venetia

Price Realized: $78,099


This is another notable stamp issued in Italy. Experts in the field believe that this is the only copy known to exist. The main peculiarity of the stamp may be observed in the image above. An experienced philatelist will immediately notice that the reverse displays 2 other impressions that are upside down in relation to the original. The lot was offered at Universal Philatelic Auctions. 

1922 Italian Levant Stamp

Estimated value (not realized yet): $70,000


The next stamp is also extremely rare and is almost never offered at regular stamp auctions or online stamp auctions. There are only 5 known copies of this stamp. The lot was offered at a Cherrystone event; however, it was not sold. The catalog value of this stamp is estimated at 300,000 euros, which makes it indeed valuable. 

Balbo Triptychs

Price Realized: $55,000

Postage stamps of this series were issued in May 1933 to pay for correspondence, which was delivered by a fleet of 24 hydroplanes under the leadership of General I. Balbo. Correspondence was delivered from Italy to the USA via Amsterdam, Reykjavik, and Montreal. For this flight, the leader of the flotilla was awarded the title of Marshal of Aviation. This postage stamp was sold at Cherrystone auction in 2013.

Ultramarine and Rose Stamp

Price Realized: $40,000

This stamp is remarkable for the way "Dollari" is printed - the surcharge is written with all capital letters. The lot is fresh and in good condition. This very fine piece was offered at Spink 11 years ago.

Olive Green Stamp

Price Realized: $16,000


This beautifully centered stamp was sold at Spink. The issue that makes this stamp extremely rare and valuable is the missing "Estero". The reason why it is missing is unknown yet. There are only a few copies of this postage stamp available to the collectors.

Inverted Numeral Stamp

Price Realized: $15,000


As one can notice, the lot shown above has an inverted numeral, which has made it expensive enough compared to similar (correctly) printed stamps. Importantly, there are quite a few copies of this stamp with an error available to philatelists. However, only 3 specimens are in an unused condition, and they are rarely offered at auctions. The current lot was offered at Spink.

1870 Ocher and Carmine Stamp

Price Realized: $9,500


This is another numeral error that was sold at Spink. This postage due rarity is in perfect condition. It is not known how many copies of this stamp in such a great condition have survived, and collectors from all over the world are willing to get one in their collections.

1859 Cover with Centesimo Stamp

Price Realized: $6,400


In 2012, an envelope (1859) addressed from Parma to Locarno with an Italian postage stamp of 40 centesimos was sold for 6.4 thousand dollars. Those who are not informed enough about Italian postage stamps may be wondering why there is no mentioning of Italy on the stamp. The fact is that before the unification in 1861, Italy encompassed a number of independent states that printed their own postage stamps. One of these countries, Parma, has been producing its stamps since 1852. This envelope is a folded piece of paper with text inside and a red stamp on the outside, which was issued in September 1859 and, in a canceled condition, is considered a rarity.


Italy, Rarity