Italian Office Abroad

The late Nineteenth Century saw the major European powers in an enormous scramble for colonial influence. And one the hardest scramblers was Italy which was a latecomer to the nationalism game and had a lot of ground to cover in a small amount of time. Until 1861, Italy was a collection of some half a dozen states that were totally sovereign in themselves. Italy consolidated in a burst of nationalism under Garibaldi and one of the first manifestations of nationalistic pride was the search for overseas colonies and areas of influence. This was a bit of inexpensive and risk free flag waving that could put a nation state in the top rungs of imperialistic power for very little cost. And the Italians did one better-engaging in imperialism in a very economic way. Certainly they occupied colonies-mainly in Africa and in areas close to the Italian mainland (more about those in a day or two)-but largely they simply opened postal offices in scores of Mediterranean areas in Egypt, Africa and Turkey. And for most of these offices they issued individual postage stamps. No other country issued as many Offices Abroad stamps for as many different postal agencies as did Italy. And nearly all of them are scarce and many are rare. Pictured with this posting are two of the rarer Offices in Turkey stamps that will be in our April auction. We will be selling in April and May the finest collection of Italy and Area that we have ever offered. And I will be featuring some of the more interesting stamps here over the next few days. The best thing about Italian philately is how much rarity you get for your money. Stamps that are offered once or twice a year often sell for less than $100. And this is from a major European country with an active body of collectors.

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