Collecting San Marino Stamps

Tiny San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving republic in the world, tracing its roots back to 301 AD, when, legend has it, it was founded by Marinus of Arba, a stonecutter who left his home and built a church in the mountains off Italy’s Adriatic coast. Adopting a formal constitution in 1600, San Marino continues to thrive to this day, boasting a strong, stable economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

It’s no surprise such a forward-thinking country was one of the first to cater to the growing philatelic community. While the republic initially used Italian stamps — for some time, the post office in nearby Rimini, Italy, handled mail — since 1877 it has produced many attractive definitive and commemorative issues for the collector’s market. By some estimates, at one time the sale of San Marino collectors’ stamps to foreign philatelists generated as much as 10 percent of the country’s annual revenue.

San Marino Philately

The three major peaks of Mt. Titano dominate San Marino’s mountainous terrain. This impressive geography was the subject of the country’s first pictorial issues and continues to be a recurring motif to this day. A variation on this early design formed the basis of much of the country’s stamps until 1925. Several different denominations and colors were printed, with the 2 lire violet being the hardest to come by.

In the 1950s and 1960s, San Marino moved aggressively into the packet trade, with a wide range of collectors’ stamps in low denominations sold internationally at department stores and through foreign dealers. Fittingly, the subjects of many of these issues were universal, touching on sports, pop culture, mountaineering and more.

In recent years, the excesses of San Marino’s philatelic production have been reigned in considerably. No longer catering exclusively to the international collectors’ market, the country produces stamps almost exclusively for domestic use. That said, many of these newer stamps retain the same commitment to aesthetics as those from the past, and notable commemorative issues are occasionally produced as well.

Getting Started With San Marino Collectors’ Stamps

Over the course of its history, San Marino has produced more than 2,000 stamps, the majority of which are low value and of little interest to serious collectors. That said, the country’s early philatelic history presents a number of opportunities for specialization, particularly given the many variations of the early Mt. Titano issues.

At Apfelbaum, Inc., we frequently have San Marino collectors’ stamps for sale from all eras of the country’s philatelic history. Browse our online store and Buy It Now sales for more information. Looking for something in particular? Call or email our office for expert assistance.

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