Rare Maltese Collectors’ Stamps

The tiny island nation of Malta, located off the southern coast of Italy, has a postal history dating back hundreds of years. As part of the Kingdom of Sicily, Malta sent and received letters from the mainland as early as the 16th century. Routes and services were formalized in 1708, ink stamps were first used in 1798 and postage due markings — denominated in the Maltese scudo — were introduced in 1819.

Malta was annexed into the British Empire in 1814, quickly becoming an important shipping hub. An overseas post office was established not long after and, in 1858, the island began using British postage.

Stamps of British Malta

In 1875, Malta became the first British colony to join the Universal Postal Union. By that point, it had been issuing its own stamps for more than 15 years, starting with the introduction of the Halfpenny Yellow in 1860. The Halfpenny Yellow, which was valid only for local mail delivery, was used consistently until 1885, and was reprinted on 29 occasions during this time period. Though similar in design to other British stamps, the Halfpenny Yellow incorporates the Maltese cross into its depiction of Queen Victoria in profile. The Halfpenny Yellow is by far the most notable Maltese collectors’ stamp. Its centennial was commemorated in 1960 in a set of stamps-on-stamps.

Other notable early issues include the 1919 Saint Paul 10s Black, the rarest Malta stamp. Just over 1,500 issues were thought to be printed, and few survive today. Well-preserved examples can fetch over 3,000 euros at auction today.


Malta gained its independence from Britain in 1964, issuing a set of six new stamps to mark the occasion. The new country also issued its first Christmas stamps that same year. In 1965, a new definitive series, depicting important events in Maltese history, was released. To this day, it remains highly regarded for its beauty. Other notable attempts during this time period include the adoption of Maltese as the primary language on its stamps in 1968 and the introduction of the decimal system-based Maltese pound in 1972.

Malta switched from a monarchy to a republic in 1974, a key event in its history that was followed by the 1979 eviction of British naval forces from the island. Both events were celebrated with commemorative issues created by long-time artist and Maltese stamp designer, Emvin Cremona.

Starting a Collection of Rare Maltese Stamps

Cremona’s role as the predominant designer of Malta’s collectors’ stamps post-independence is just one of the reasons why many philatelists choose to collect the country. Maltese stamps are accessible and attractive, and the many political changes the country has undergone over the years present many options for specialization.

If you’re interested in beginning a collection of Maltese stamps, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. You can buy Maltese collectors’ stamps in our online store and Buy-It-Now Sales.

Looking for something in particular? Contact our office directly. With extensive experience buying and selling rare stamps from Malta and beyond, we can help you find what you’re looking for.

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