Collectors of United States stamps are accustomed to thinking that, when postal patrons of the Nineteenth Century wanted to mail newspapers, they used specially prepared Newspaper stamps. This was the case in the United States, a country that in the Nineteenth Century designed and issued more special service stamps than any other. Most other nations used regular postage stamps to mail newspapers, though the rate was often different than the regular first class postage rate. Most nations, the US included, have always subsidized newspaper mail, offering lower rates for the weights and distances sent. Postal services were government agencies then, and the thought was that aiding the distribution of newspapers facilitated intellectual life, though a more accurate reading might be that the ruling classes tended to like to get newspapers and periodicals and thus voted themselves a subsidy.
Tuscany, in the 1850’s, issued many stamps that were in use for short periods of time and which paid unusual rates of postage and, accordingly, were rare from the very beginning. Stamps that were rare from the earliest era of our hobby have always presented a problem for philatelists who wish to collect them on cover. The first two generations of philatelists, to about 1890, didn’t collect covers. They scoured mailing houses and old correspondences for stamps that they needed and, when they found them, promptly soaked them off the envelopes. Thus, stamps like the 1 soldo of Tuscany are very rare on a genuine newspaper use, as any that were found in the first forty years after they were used were quickly soaked off. The stamp above catalogs in the 2012 Scott specialized at $9,500 off cover and $40,000 on cover reflecting its rarity when legitimately used.
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