Italy and Area Stamps

What can Be Done: Italy and the Italian Area is one of the most interesting of collecting specialty areas. It combines all the things that a philatelist likes to have in their specialty. There are the difficult classics in the Italian States—wonderful specialty areas in their own right like Sardinia or Two Sicilies.  Italian States stamps are rare, and they provide many challenges for the advanced collector. Italy proper is attractive and completeable. The Italian Colonies are interesting with many scarce and desirable stamps. Italy maintained numerous Post Offices abroad in Turkey, in the Aegean, and in China, and those stamps make for good collecting. And the Italian philately of WWII is first rate. San Marino and Vatican City are collected as part of the Italian area, and they are interesting counties to collect.

Specialty Catalogs: The Scott catalog, especially the Scott classic, is very good for Italy and Area. The specialized Italian catalog Sassone is very comprehensive, one might even say too comprehensive. The Sassone listings (that Scott also picks up) tend to over-list shades and varieties, which even specialists can find off putting. Further, the Sassone prices, again picked up by Scott and converted from Euros into dollars, are much too high. Collectors throughout the world are accustomed to paying ?-½ for their stamps when they buy them individually. Italian stamps often sell at less than 25%. This makes Italian area philately look less popular than it really is and makes some collectors skittish about collecting Italian area stamps. Further, there are many forgeries of Italian stamps, both in the classic period and in the more modern period with WWII related overprints, fake or wrong dated cancellations, and with gum (because the Italians pay such crazy premiums for NH).

Specialty Albums: Marini (an Italian album manufacturer) makes a wonderful hingeless specialty album as does Lighthouse. The Scott Specialty series for Italy and Area is especially good and should be considered because the Italian and German specialty catalogs differ quite a bit from Scott for the Italian area listings, and so using a European made album for this area could be confusing.

Expense: The stamps of Italy and area can be very pricey though there are thousands of different varieties that can be had for only a few dollars or less. Remember, when buying Italy, that you should be paying a lower percentage of catalog value for your stamps than you are used to paying for other areas of the world.

Availability of Material: There are tens of thousands of different Italy and area stamps, and they can be found quite easily. When buying rarer stamps for this area, try to stick to reputable dealers as there are many forgeries of these stamps, and you want to buy from a dealer who knows what they are doing.

Overall Collecting Grade: A-

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