Alessandro Manzoni was a great Italian writer whose writing contributed to Italian cultural nationalism in the Nineteenth Century and led to the unification of Italy. When he died in 1873 Giuseppe Verdi wrote his famous requiem in his honor. Manzoni’s most famous novel is The Betrothed, a long and involved story that is to Italy and the Italians what Hugo’s Les Miserables is to the French and Tolstoy’s War and Peace is to the Russians. These are works that encapsulate the national story of their respective nations (often in allegorical ways) and the characters are national “types”( The United States doesn’t have a book like this and those of us who went to school in the sixties and seventies remember that English class was largely a search for The Great American Novel). One of the most famous Italian sets is the Manzoni commemorative of 1923 which was issued in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Manzoni’s death. The set was issued by Italy proper and was also overprinted for several different colonies. Like so many Italian stamps in this period the set is worth far more used than mint and far more Never Hinged than simply mint.

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