Postage stamps and brief postal history of Italy
Italy was unified as a country in 1861 and earlier details on its postal history are related to the various kingdoms.
For example, in Sardinia, a network of “cavallini” (little horses) serviced the private correspondence in the early 1800s. By the mid-19th century, European postal reforms influenced some including Count Camillo Cavour to send a proposal
to the Piedmont Chamer of Deputies for reforming the existing postal services. The reforms were applied in January 1851 and the new term “francobollo” (postage stamps) was introduced.
Initially, the produced stamps had the embossed profile of Victor Emmanuel II.
Postage stamps were also issued by other states such as Modena, Naples, Parma, Sicily, Tuscany and Romagna, including the Papal States
The Kingdom of Italy
The abovementioned stamps (Matraire stamps) were reprinted several times, but those printed after 17 March 1861 are considered the first stamps of Italy. During 1860 and 1861 "Sardinian" stamps supplanted those in use in each of the territories that joined Italy, with Modena, Parma, and Romagna changing over in February 1860, and Naples converting in September 1862. The stamps were perforated in early 1862 and uniform postal rates went into effect by January 1863.
The initial contract for the prooduction of postage stamps was awarded to Sparre but their designs were unpopular. To avoid the lack of postage stamps, the Italian Government asked Matraire to quickly produce the 15 centesimi stamp.
The Sparre contract was cancelled in March 1863 and the British printer De La Rue was awarded with the new contract for the production of 8 stamps, that were used until the end of 1889.
Italy joined the Universal Postal Union on July 1875.
Humbert took over the throne from his father in 1878 and a new stamp issue was released on 15 August 1879. These stamps were the first to be done by Italians from the design concept to their printing.
Nevertheless, with limited finances and large stocks of the earlier stamps, these were exhausted before the Humbert issue was used. The new series accomodated uniform rates and colours as mandated by the UPU.