San Marino Stamps

What Can Be Done: San Marino is one of philately’s glamour boys. It is a tiny country, the 3rd smallest in Europe, and has a very small population. But San Marino has issued over a thousand stamps going back to the 1880’s. Its popularity has to do with its remoteness. Collectors, especially those of the early twentieth century, when travel was less prevalent and there were no travel channel shows, tended to like exotic countries that they never could hope to see or visit. This was not only true of philately. The larger circulation magazines (selling millions of copies per month) of the time were Life and National Geographic both of which included photos of exotic places in every issue. Stamps were a window to the world in the era before our worldly window was our computer screen and the popularity of San Marino stamps is a relic of that.


The first issues of San Marino are scarce and it is not until about 1920 that San Marino began to issue the long attractive sets that made its reputation with stamp collectors. The sets of the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s were some of the best designed of that era. San Marino has issued over 2000 stamps. About 1800 of them are readily available. The rest are a bit challenging and expensive to buy. And the Airmails of San Marino can be a specialty of their own. Many collectors enjoy collecting countries like San Marino, where there are always stamps to add to their collection for a modest price when they are not up to a splurge for more scarce items.

Specialty Catalogs: Scott is the catalog of choice for San Marino. The Italian specialty catalog Sassone is good but is little used outside of Italy.


Specialty Albums: The Scott specialty series for San Marino is nice. Marini makes a beautiful – and expensive – hingeless specialty album for San Marino. Marini is a very high end Italian album maker. All their albums are beautiful. Lighthouse, as always, is excellent.


Availability Of Material: Though San Marino, because of its popularity, has many expensive stamps it has few truly rare ones. Collectors can expect prolific offerings from most general dealers and there are also several capable Italian area specialty dealers as well.


Expense: Overall, San Marino is an expensive country to collect. If you want to collect the country on a budget, then ignore the pre-1920 issues. After that, there are a few scarce sets but most is quite affordable. Then again, if you want the pleasure of collecting San Marino on a real budget concentrate only on the stamps from 1960-1990. There are hundreds of colorful and interesting sets from this period. Speculators put away thousands of extra sets from 1960-1990 hoping for a boom in San Marino’s philatelic fortunes that never materialized. Most of these sets sell today for below their original postage value.


Overall Grade: B


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