Post Horn Magazine of Internationl Postal History, n. 0

Page 1




Discover new and fascinating aspects of Postal History


Scopri nuovi e affascinanti aspetti della Storia Postale


Direttore Responsabile/Editor in Chief Claudio Ernesto M. Manzati

Redazione/Editorial Board Giorgio Migliavacca Thomas Mathà


Aniello Veneri

Collaboratori/Contributing Editors Lorenzo Carra Rocco Cassandri Piero Bartoloni Federico Borromeo D’Adda David Feldman Arthur H. Groten Serge Kahn Chris King Martino Laurenzi David Lee Raphaël Livnat Mirco Mascagni Roberto Quondamatteo Emilio Simonazzi Anthony Virvilis

Editore/Editor in Chief

Elisa Volpato

Claudio Ernesto M. Manzati Via Cesare Pascarella, 5 I-20157 Milano (MI) Italy +39 339 840 8189

Web Master



Francesco De Carlo

Social Media

Sergio Castaldo

New Print S.n.C. Viale Kennedy 17 I-30025 Fossalta di Portogruaro (VE) Italy P.IVA / VAT 02343980278

Editing: December 2018 Court of Milan: Periodicals Registration No. 31, 14 February 2019



You are reading the first lines of the first issue (we call it “zero”) of Post Horn, a brand new Magazine of International Postal History. The post horn was the musical instrument ‘par excellence’ used by postilions in the 18th and 19th century to signal the arrival or departure of a postal courier or a mail coach. It became one of the most important iconic aspects of the postal service and it is still used by many national postal services to identify their range of services. It is no surprise that symphonic music and opera composers such as Rossini, Mozart, Adam and Mahler could not resist the temptation to feature this instrument in their compositions. Post Horn’s aim is to herald new information about postal history - on a global scale with eye-appealing graphics and illustrations. “Post Horn” is headed by Claudio Ernesto Manzati, assisted by an editorial board including Giorgio Migliavacca and Thomas Mathà, who are also co-founders of the magazine, and a number of international contributing editors on our website which provides their profiles. The magazine will average 100 pages per issue with a twice a year periodicity, it will be sent free to the members of CIFO the Italian Collectors of Definitive Stamps and - at this early stage the magazine is being sent to all Postal History

Societies to familiarize all potential readers with its existence while imparting additional momentum to this fascinating aspect of history. You may ask: why a new postal history magazine? Well, we believe that we can offer, through an international network, articles to readers who are interested on a broader view of the history of the post and of philately, which comprises key elements such as paper, letter writing, stamps, routes and communications in a combination with historical developments: all contributing factors to a more comprehensive view of “postal history”. We also think that the contents should be presented with captivating graphics and layout to expand our readership to both scholars of other aspects of history and newcomers. In fact, in recent years we have noticed a growing interest of academicians in postal history, this positive development is due to the publication of truly scholarly books and articles. The language of the magazine is English, but it will be possible to download the text of the articles in the language of the author and in Italian from the website of Post Horn Enjoy discovering new facets, themes and subjects of postal history and if you can make an interesting contribution, do not hesitate to contact us via email at or EDITORIAL_POST HORN





Thomas Mathà























Books Review

Giorgio Migliavacca



Geneve, Switzerland



Readers of this article, at least some of them, may know my company and its international auctions in the philatelic world spanning the last 50 years. It is difficult, if not impossible that steering the helm of such operations can leave one without deep life impressions of all the rare stamps and covers that passed through my hands, all the people who collected them and all the unusual and fascinating adventures experienced on that journey. Born Irish, there is a simple yet deeply prophetic national proverb we have : “when you work with wet paint, you get some on your clothes”. I could not have avoided becoming a collector myself. Choosing how and what to collect was a serious matter. I had so many pleasant and interesting experiences and projects involving philately from so many different countries I had become over the years what is called “a Jack of all trades but master of none”. I knew a little about so much but not much about a small or specialised subject (with a few exceptions) and the pleasure therefore for my collecting would be the reflection of this: a subject title or theme that would take me around the world and touch many countries. The fascination was always classics so it could be narrowed to that at least, then Imperforates. It could be just mint or perhaps just routes and rates with a postal history orientation but I liked both. We should not forget the aesthetics: I was always impressed by the ‘look’ or appearance and feel in these more modern times, when one is targeted by so much marketing and promotions, that we are attracted, even seduced, by what appears eye-catching already from the distance.


Returning to my roots and my first collection of postal history to and from Ireland, which was named “The Emerald Collection” because Ireland has a reputation as “The Emerald Isle”. It’s because there is so much green from all the rain it suffers. That gave me the key “Emerald” name and so was born the idea of IMPERFORATE CLASSICS all in GREEN. The idea of seeing just a “sea of green” in the pages of the frames became an aesthetic ambition, so no other colour should be included. That forbade the inclusion of covers which had stamps having other colours but I made unusual exception if the item was just so desirable and important that I simply had to have it (see GB Fig. 1 and Bavaria Fig. 2) and the other stamp(s) were minimal; or it was a mixture of issues including perforated but always only green (USA Fig. 3) or even the more fascinating of mixed but with the same values of different issues and design (France Fig. 4). Highlights of course would be items where the green was in fact the most important item in that country’s early philately (see Canada Fig. 5, Spain Fig. 6).

Fig. 1

Fig. 2



Fig. 3 Fig. 4 Fig. 5 Fig. 6


So now I had the title and the theme with, to a certain extent, my self made rules: Green/Imperforate/Classics. I began to accumulate all and every stamp but quickly found that if I had the ambition to exhibit, I would be limited in pages. How many countries? I had to think about that. There would be perhaps 50 philatelic classic countries. Then there are some spectacular “local” issues. For important countries like USA there is only one stamp (USA Fig. 7) so perhaps include some important Confederate Postmasters which have a few green issues (USA Confederate Fig. 8). And the rules and inclusions became a flexible “moving” situation to reflect balance, Fig. 8

rarity, and sometimes just to show an amazing or unusual piece (Spain Local Fig. 9). As I now progressed to the first and second exhibitions it became apparent that the theme must become a centrepiece, the “GREEN”, as that was the standout feature. It was quite a chance for me that the world’s first stamp in green should be the Double Geneva of Switzerland, (CH Fig. 10) the central place where the whole idea was born also for me and where the collection is actually residing. It is interesting to note that in early stamp printings, primary colours were chosen like black, red and blue. Green was not so popular as it is itself not a primary colour but a mix of blue and yellow, so it is not found much in first issues unless there is a set of many values for which each value requires a different distinct colour, like the first issues of France (France Fig. 11) and Greece (Greece Fig. 12). So you see that it becomes a very pioneering idea and can provide exciting creativity as it develops.

Fig. 7



Fig. 9

Fig. 11 Fig. 10 Fig. 12 Fig. 13 Fig. 14

As I move now to the third exhibition of the collection and its continual build up, it becomes clear that I cannot do justice to many areas with just a page or two so the future looks like an expansion to develop whole exhibit collections by region, for example Switzerland and France/ Great Britain & Colonies/ The Americas/ Asia. Excluding those Asian countries of the British Colonies, the balance for the Asia section would be only Japan, Persia (Persia Fig. 13) Nepal and Tibet. Japan is indeed one of the most difficult: after all there’s just the first issue 500mon which is a rare stamp (Fig. 14). I would need to find some very nice multiples and covers. Can anyone offer me any items? Despite its originality and unorthodox nature, the collection has been awarded Gold/ Large Gold in all three exhibitions so far: Local, Regional and National. In December it goes International in Bangkok for the first time. It will be fascinating to observe how it will perform. In a sense it’s following the collector’s heart and passion and perhaps the exhibition jury will appreciate that and adapt their judgement accordingly. Let us see!



Mantova, Italy

From L. Chamboissier (v.b.). Loading the mail bags on a balloon.


Below: 4 September 1870. Day of the end of the French Empire and declaration of the Republic. Paris is not yet in a state of siege. Cover from a soldier of the ‘72 de Ligne’ sent P.P. (port payé) from Paris La Gare d’Ivry to “Condel par Rubastens Tarne” where had already arrived on September 5th through Paris to Toulouse A and Perigueux to Toulouse C railway postal services. In spite of the fatal defeat at Sedan having just occurred, the railways and the post were still working properly.


3 November 1870. Small entire from Neuilly sur Seine, a town a dozen km from the centre of Paris in an area not yet occupied by the Prussians, sent P.P. (port payé) to Paris (there is no arrival stamp). A soldier with the “Garde mobile de la Seine” 7th bataillon writes to a friend expressing sadness for his own condition and for having to stay in a fortification for three hours while ready to start fighting for our “cochons de Parisiens ... nothing in the heart ... I do not need money ... I hope to meet you on Sunday”.

On July 18th , 1870, the French Emperor Napoleon III declared war on King Wilhelm I of Hohenzollern’s Prussia, but after suffering defeats at Sedan on September 1st and 2nd he had to capitulate. The French Empire ended, and on September 4th, 1870 the Republic was declared. The Prussians invaded France and on September 19th they completed their surrounding of Paris. The siege was long and ended only on January 28th 1871 with the surrender of Paris and with the armistice. During the siege, postal communications by land were interrupted. Apart from some rare ‘boules’, however, which were recovered in the Seine only at the end of the war, it was the pigeons and especially the ballon montés that kept Paris connected to the rest of the world.


First sheet of the “Gambetta” telegram.

Gambetta, who was he?

Seventh sheet of the “Gambetta” telegram.

Léon Gambetta (1838-1882) was a lawyer and a politician. On September 4th, 1870 he became Minister of the Interior for the Republic. On October 7th, he left besieged Paris on board the 6th balloon. The Armande Barbès left at 11am from Place St.Pierre, in Montmartre. Under the command of the airman J. Trichet and with another passenger - E. Spuller - on board, it also carried a hundred pounds of mail and 16 pigeons. Given the particular load he traveled at great height and landed after four and a half hours at Bois Favier, near Epineuse, a hundred kilometers north of Paris. Gambetta then moved with the Government first to Tours then to Bordeaux. He also became Minister of War. His political life was chaotic until the end.

Brief introduction to present this incredible telegram of seven-pages of which, for obvious reasons of space, I can show only images of the first and last page. Below is a literal translation (the numbers are those marked on the sheets).



Bourg Office 11th January 1871 Official Service Dispatch Circular from Bordeaux January 11th, 1871, at 11 minutes past midnight Internal to the Prefects, Sub-Prefects and Generals and General Circular # 3256 The balloon Gambetta” which had left last night from Paris fell in the Niévre near Clemecy. It brings us the following three messages.

To the Bordeaux government The military report of the evening of the 9th says that several fights took place yesterday towards Malmaison. This morning the enemy renewed his attempts against the Maison Crochart for the fourth time from the Carrierès side to the left of Rueil. The mobile troops of lower Loire and of Aisne have repelled the enemy causing serious losses. The borders of the Panthéon and the ninth sector have received heavy shelling tonight, of which more than thirty were of large-caliber. The Hospice of Piety was attacked. A woman was killed there. Patients in a room had to be evacuated to a cellar. The Val de Grãce was also shelled. The enemy seems to take aim at Paris hospital establishments, showing once again hateful measures with no respect for the laws of war and humanity. During the night and towards the point of the day, the Prussians fired intensely on the southern forts. It was done today with less violence than the previous days. Close estimates report at 2,000 the number of howitzer shots fallen this night in Paris. Some women and children have been killed or injured. The news brought yesterday by a pigeon has produced an immense effect. The population is more than ever animated by the feeling and resolution of a stubborn resistance. The first message tells that the balloon “Gambetta” (so called in honour of the Minister, the 56th in chronological order), left from the Gare du Nord on January 10th 1871 at 4am piloted by the airman Charles Duvivier with the engineer Michel Eugène Lefebvre de Fourcy, three pigeons and 240 pounds of mail. Despite a weak wind, a very cold night and a lot of rain, it had arrived at 2.30 pm in Ouanne, 20 km from Auxerre (Yonne), 200 km south of Paris. Duvivier and Lefebvre de Fourcy reached Bordeaux by post courier the following day. This permitted the drawing up of the circular for the prefects and the generals with the news of the fighting around Paris and the bombardment of the city.


From J. Le Pileur (v.b.). This is how the cages with pigeons and the mail bags traveled on a balloon. From L. Chamboissier (v.b.). The departure of Léon Gambetta on the balloon Armand Barbés (chronologically number 6). From J.C. Lettré (v.b.). The cages with pigeons ready to be loaded onto a balloon. Right page: Map showing the landing points of the Ballon 6 (north of Paris) and the Ballon 56, 200 km to the south.





Delegated Commissioner Steenackers, General Manager, Telegraphs and Post Paris 10th, 1 o’clock in the morning

Finally the fog disappeared. One of your pigeons arrived here in the evening of January 8th, bringing us the official dispatches of the second series N. 35 36 37 and 38 and the private and micro-dispatches from page 1 to 63 of the second series and from 1bis to 14bis. We were happy with the good and numerous news brought by your message when it was finally deciphered. The Prussians are in a hurry and they are bombing Issy, Vanves and also a little Montrouge. The howitzers shots change over the Panthéon the Odeon St Sulpice and the rue de la Babylone. The population is admirable, (showing) no fear. The news brought by your pigeon and those learned on the 9th from the newspapers double everybody’s courage. Long live the Republic! The second message is directed to François Frédéric Steenackers (sometimes Stenackers, or Steeneckers) appointed by the minister Gambetta as director of the Posts and Telegraphs. It talks about the arrival of a pigeon with micro-filmed messages and the further bombardment of Paris.

François Frédéric Steenackers, the French director of the Post and Telegraphs. Left page: From J.C. Lettré (v.b.). Here’s how they lived and what they ate in 1870 in besieged Paris. Bombs and howitzer shots over Paris.


Levéillé head of the telegraphic administration office at Stenackers, General Manager. Paris January 10th January

Weak bombardment except at night. Numerous howitzer shells on the St. Jacques district. Population reassured by the happy news from the province and more from the 30 000 private dispatches carried by your pigeon, endures the challenge without hesitation. Gambetta thanks you. Long live Paris! Long live France! Long live the Republic! CC to the director of transmissions, Du Dimons [?]

The third message is also for Steenackers and in addition to the usual bombing, it talks of a pigeon that had arrived with 30 thousand private messages (they might have been microscopic, but the figure, for a single pigeon, is incredible!) which reassured the population. Great patriotic expressions at the end. This telegram is an Official Dispatch or Service Dispatch transmitted by the main telegraph office in Lyon at 3 hours and 50 minutes in the evening received by the Administration of the Telegraphs Service of Bourg at 4 (also in the afternoon) of the “11/1”, as also the octagonal stamp Bourg 11 Janv 71. The transmission of this dispatch shows how the telegraph lines functioned quite well despite the war and the still precarious electrical installations of those times. The telegraphic circular which actually issued from Bordeaux on January 11th 1871 (where Gambetta had withdrawn with part of the Government of “Free France”), reached the office of Bourg, now Bourg-en-Bresse, from the Lyon telegraph station. It is just 60 kilometers from Bourg, while Bordeaux is on the Atlantic Coast, more than 500 kilometers from Lyon. More than from the point of view of the telegraphic forms, this long telegram is of great historical, interest and especially of postal historical interest. In fact, besides the firsthand news of the war operations that were taking place, it offers proof of the efficiency and importance of the mail transported by the ballon montés and by the pigeons during the siege of Paris.



24 January, 1871. Letter handstamped Paris R. Cardinal Lemoine covered by a starshaped stamp with points, sent to Paris, Avenue des Amandiers (there is no arrival mark). Written in Créteil, a town about ten kilometers from the centre of Paris in an area not yet occupied by the Prussians. A soldier with the “Garde Nationale mobilitée” writes to his mother telling her that he had received her letter, but not the newspapers. He’s in the barracks at Créteil “... on Saturday night we had an alert ... none of us fired a shot... we are very calm at the outposts. ... the great amount of false news ... we do not know what is going on in Paris ... we do not know when we will return to Paris ... we have been here for fifteen days ... I hope we will return to Paris this week... I embrace you. “Then, added in pencil:” Monday 10 hours in the evening. I just received your good letter. I do not think of coming to Paris before the end of this week. I will not disturb you. ... I have just read in the “Electeur Libre” about the order to leave Paris and that the fighting at the Hotel de Ville is over. I am sending my letter through Gustave in Bobigny. Goodbye dear mother “. Another addition: “excuse my handwriting, but it is the fault of the Prussians”. A letter that shows all the uncertainty and excitement of those moments: Four days later Paris would surrender to the Prussians. From L. Chamboissier (v.b.). The projection of microfilm messages carried by pigeons.

Essential Bibliography Lèon Chamboissier, La Poste a Paris, Lille, 1914; Jean-Claude Lettré, Le siège de Paris, Doc Factory, Annecy, 2006; Gérard Lhéritier, Les Ballon Montés. Boules de Moulins. Pigeongrammes. Papillon de Metz. Historique. Evaluation. Classification. Cotation, Valeurs Philatélique, 1992; Gérard Lhéritier, Collection 1870. Ballon Montés. Boules de Moulins, Valeurs & Références, Édition 2000; Gérard Lhéritier, Livre des Valeurs et Cotations des années 1870-1871, Valises diplomatiques,Gravilliers. Passerurs ct Messagers. Sièges de province. Ballons Montés. Boules de Moulins. Papillons et Pigeons, Éditions Plume, 2008; J. le Pileur, La Poste par Ballons Montés 1870-1871, Yvert & Tellier, Amiens, 1943.


Since 1517, Jerusalem and the Holy Land had been nothing more than a lost land in the vast territory of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the 19th century, the few rare travellers who visited Jerusalem described it as a medieval city, with a population of about 9,000 people living within the fortifications of King David’s city. The population survived on small crafts. The European Christian community included religious persons of various nationalities who lived in churches and convents. There were no carriageways to other villages and small towns that could be used to convey produce and goods. Horses and camels were utilised for long Jerusalem, la citadelle (David Roberts, 1839)



journeys, but for a shorter haul donkeys and mules were used. At the time there were no printing shops or newspapers. The few foreign visitors could be accommodated at humble religious hospices because there were no inns as such in the area. From Jaffa, the only port in the region, 65 kilometres away from Jerusalem, the journey was on horseback and took approximately twelve hours. A large part of the population was illiterate. There was no postal service. The few surviving letters were mailed by religious institutions; a letter took between 3 to 4 months to reach Europe. No letters to persons living in a small town or its vicinity have survived.

FROM JERUSALEM TO ITALY by the French Post Raphaël Livnat Puteaux, France


In 1831, the Egyptian army crossed the Sinai peninsula and occupied Palestine and Syria. The intervention of France and Great Britain in 1833 allowed these territories to be left under the authority of Egypt. In 1839, Sultan Mahmud II resumed the war against the Egyptian army and suffered another defeat. The Franco-British intervention led to the ‘Treaty of London’ of 15 July 1840, which ended the conflict and returned Syria and Palestine to the Ottoman Empire. Egypt evacuated Palestine in October 1840. Two important events occurred: in May 1837, the steamboats of the French Post Office began to sail from Marseille to Alexandria, Constantinople and Smyrna, where French post offices were set up and activated; thereafter it was the Austrian Lloyd steamers that established shipping lines from Trieste to the Ottoman Empire and Egypt and delivered mail to the ports of call. In 1838, for the first time, a French Vice Consulate was opened in Jerusalem; the English Vice Consulate was elevated to the status of Consulate in 1840. The French government followed suit and in July 1843 their diplomatic quarters were promoted to Consulate; Austria and other countries adjusted to the progress made by England and France. Among other duties, these Consulates facilitated the arrival of many travellers and pilgrims to Jerusalem. In July 1852, adequate port facilities and a French post office were activated in Jaffa. Antoine Louis Santelli, the Jaffa postmaster, opened a private postal agency in Jerusalem, headed by Charles Guarmani, an Italian citizen. As a result, letters sent by post from Jerusalem were transmitted to the Jaffa post office, from there they were entrusted to steamships for delivery to their destinations. Those bound for Alexandria and Beirut took two days, while mail to Marseille took about two weeks. In due course, with the arrival of many foreign travellers, the outgoing mail was addressed to an ever increasing number of countries. French liners sailing along the Mediterranean coast of Italy facilitated the exchange of letters to many destinations. Some of the most significant covers are presented here to give the reader examples of rates and routes. 22



From Jerusalem to the Italian States Only two letters from this period are recorded; the first one to the Kingdom of Sardinia, the second one to the Papal States1. Letter from a convent in Jerusalem, carried to Egypt and placed on board the French liner „Le Clyde“ in the harbour of Alexandria for conveyance to Italy from where it would reach its final destination, Turin. December 1858, letter sent from Jerusalem to Alexandria for conveyance to Italy from where it would reach its final destination, Turin: blue datestamp “Le Clyde 12 JANV. 9”. 10 decimes tax for Sardinian States, letter weighing up to 7 ½ grammes. Handed over to the post office on arrival at Genoa (28 January 1859) where the handstamp PIROSCAFI POSTALI FRANCESI was used to postmark it.

Letter from Jerusalem dated 18 March 1859 written in Hebrew by Jacob Valero to Rabbi David Abraham Haim in Ancona. On arrival to the Papal States the letter was handed over to the Civitavecchia post office and then routed overland to Ancona. Double circle Jerusalem Cross handstamp, in blue, Jaffa dotted outer ring datestamp (19) March 59, and PD CIVITAVECCHIA / DALLA / VIA DI MARE. Postage paid in cash 10 decimes (on the back) due to the lack of postage stamps out of stock in Jaffa. Tariff of 1.1.1857 of a letter weighing up to 7 ½ grammes for Papal States. Backstamped: Alexandria 20 March, Civitavecchia 30 March, Ancona 2 April 59.


See Jérusalem et la Poste française en Terre Sainte, 2ème édition 2017/18 page 63.


From Jerusalem to Italy A postal anomaly - a cover with stamps cancelled by Jaffa’s diamond large numeral “5089” and datestamp of the steamship liner “Gange”. The following cover has the peculiarity of having the stamps cancelled by the large numeral “5089” of Jaffa and on the envelope the datestamp of the liner “Gange 4 June 66” at the time of its departure from Jaffa. This combination of the ship datestamp and the large numeral handstamp is very interesting and constitutes a postal anomaly. It is thanks to the identification of the writing on this letter and the documents from the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the route of this letter could be reconstructed and this anomaly explained. The writing on the envelope is that of Bishop Vincent Bracco, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Secretary General of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. This appointment was celebrated in May 1866 with a religious ceremony at the Holy Sepulchre by Bishop Joseph Valerga, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. At the time, two architects had been in Jerusalem for a few months, preparing the necessary plans for the repair work on the great dome of the Holy Sepulchre damaged by the fire of 1804. One of them was French, Mr. Mauss, the other was Russian, Mr. Eppinger. For this mission, Mauss maintained constant contact with Bishop Valerga and Bishop Bracco. According to dispatch No. 14 of 3 June 1866 of Edmond de Barrère, Consul of France in Jerusalem, appointed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these two architects had completed their mission. In fact they were preparing to leave Jerusalem for Jaffa, in order to take the 4 June liner on its way to Alexandria. The French Consul informed his Minister that Bishop Valerga was leaving Jerusalem to go to Syria: Bishop Bracco replaced him.

Extract from the Jaffa Navigation Register from May 24 to June 9, 1866 After the mention ‘parti pour Alexandria’ it is written ‘with Mauss, Epinger’.



This cover is franked 1,80 francs by using postage stamps of the issue Empire of 1862, with the 80c (x 2) and the 10c (x 2), triple port of a letter to Genoa, Italy. The mention of the triple port appears in blue pencil on the cover. Stamped cover delivered to the post office where it received the Jaffa large numeral “5089” which cancelled the postage stamps. Under normal circumstances if a stamped cover was entrusted to a French steamship, the first postmark was the Anchor handstamp used to cancel the stamps, the second postmark featured the name of the steamship liner.

This information allows us to reach the following conclusions: 1) In the absence of Bishop Valerga of Jerusalem in early June 1866, Bishop Bracco had to be in Jerusalem from where he wrote this letter, before 3 June 1866, to a member of his family (this being his cousin). It is likely that part of this letter was devoted to the report of the ceremony of his appointment to the Holy Sepulchre and the planned rehabilitation work to restore the historic religious structure. 2) The absence of the postmark of the French post office in Jerusalem indicates that this letter was sent by another route. It is likely that it was entrusted to Mr. Mauss, to be posted in Jaffa. 3) Mr. Mauss delivered the cover to the French post office

in Jaffa. Santelli cancelled the postage stamps with Jaffa’s large numeral “5089” with the intention of sending this piece of mail by means of the next scheduled steamship, the mail having already been placed on board the Gange. 4) Upon learning that the cover could not leave the same day and that Mr. Mauss was to travel onboard the Gange, Mr. Santelli returned the cover to Mr. Mauss for delivery to the ship’s agent. The latter, after receiving this cover, affixed the datestamp of the Gange to the front of the letter. 5) As for the smudged cancellation of large numeral 5089 on the 10c on the right handside, it must have been caused when Mauss took up the cover again; it looks like the imprint of a gloved finger on a freshly postmarked stamp.

Jerusalem, the Church of Holy Sepulchre (David Roberts, 1839)

Bordeaux’s issue



Jerusalem Cross handstamp, Jaffa dotted outer ring datestamp 17 AVRIL 71, PD. Letter weighing up to 30 grammes resulting in a 2 francs franking (40c block of 4 + 40 c) cancelled large numeral “5089”, instead of a third weight step for Italy of 60c x 3 = 1.80 francs (20 c overpaid). Datestamp Paq. Angl. Amb. Mars. 28 Avril 71. Backstamped: Alexandria 19 April, TPO “Da Susa a Torino” 29 April, arrival 1 May 1871.

Franking of letters from French offices abroad using stamps of the Bordeaux issue are rare. The use of a block of four of the 40c makes this letter a unique piece.

Jerusalem Cross; Jaffa dotted outer ring datestamp 30 MAY 73, PD. Insured letter n° 876 to Florence (Italy), handwritten No. 72, weighing 32.50 grammes, postage paid 4.80 francs (40c x 10 + 30c x 2 + 2c) cancelled large numeral “5089”. Fourth weight step to Italy at a rate of 60c for each step of 10 grammes totalling a franking of 2.40 francs doubled because the letter was insured = 4.80 F. Backstamped: accessory rectangular hand-stamp giving insurance details; 5089 large numeral, Alexandria cds 2 June, Florence cds on arrival.




18 Letter from Bishop Vincent Bracco, who was appointed Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem on 21 March 1873.

Jerusalem Cross, Jaffa dotted outer ring datestamp 24 FEVR. 73, PD. Letter weighing up to 20 grammes, franked with 1.20 francs (30c pair x 2) cancelled large numeral 5089. The handwritten number 2 in blue at upper left corner indicates the second weight step. Backstamped: Alexandria circle date stamp (cds), Porto Maurizio 4 March 1873.

The insured letters from Jerusalem are extremely rare, only three letters are recorded. 27


18 Jerusalem Cross on postcard franked 20c (10c x 2) cancelled Jaffa dotted outer ring datestamp 24 MARCH 77. Incorrect postage, the rate for Italy was 15c, so 5c overpaid.

Registered letter, handwritten “No. 585”, 50c franking (10c strip of five cancelled “Jaffa 13 SEPT 09” in blue) + boxed R. Backstamped: Port Said 14.09.09 cds, Alexandria 15.09.09 cds, Palermo 20.09.09 cds. Handwritten mention in blue: ‘2a Spedi / zione‘. (Second mailing). According to the Italian tariff this letter could have been franked 30c (quite a contrast when we consider the 50c French tariff).

On 1 June 1908 Italy opened a post office in Jerusalem. This Italian postal rate, which applies to Italy, Egypt, Egyptian Sudan, the Italian colonies and the Italian offices of the Levant, is lower than other foreign offices in the Ottoman Empire, by 25% for letters and 60% for printed matter. It will encourage the intervention of consuls and ambassadors of other nations in Constantinople, to align Italian tariffs with those of other post offices. 28


‘From Jerusalem to Italy by the French Post Office’ This article is based on the above-mentioned book. Its 300 colour pages contain many other details, information and letters of great interest. It is based on the archives of the Ministry of Foreign and Consular Affairs. It provides a lot of unpublished information on French and foreign postal activity in the Holy Land and the Ottoman Empire. Most importantly: we learn details of the activation of the first English maritime line linking Jaffa to Beirut and Alexandria from 1848 to 1851; the postal service of Santelli and Micciarelli between Beirut and Jerusalem as well as the tariff of this post; the French maritime stopover in Caiffa since 1852; the chronology of all postal and maritime events in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Ottoman Empire, with many details about them. Much of this information corrects information published in the past. Some details are contradictory to those published over the past decade. All the French, English, German, Italian and other articles explain that the letters were deposited at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, which used the blue handstamp, commonly referred to as the “Jerusalem Cross”. The many documents mentioned show that this post was a private post office under the responsibility of the Jaffa post office. Its relationship with the Consulate was the opposite of the one described, since it was the Jerusalem post office that transported the consular bag in return for a payment from the Consulate. Another contradiction concerns the establishment of foreign post offices in the Ottoman Empire, which has been described as based on the treaties of the Capitulations of the Sublime Gate. The following are mentioned: “Trade treaty between Russia and the Sublime Porte dated 10 June 1783” (article 76) “Trade treaty between Austria and the Sublime Porte dated 24 February 1784” (article 5). It is demonstrated by numerous unpublished documents, in French, Austrian, English and German, that this thesis, which has been defended for more than 150 years throughout the world, is unfounded. The book illustrates many covers and letters. It should be of interest to philatelists at all levels, and in particular to all countries that had foreign post offices in the Ottoman Empire. 29


Fig. 1: Photographic portrait of Carlo Cocorda.

In Italy philatelic collecting began to develop soon after the national unity (1861), thanks also to the large number of postage stamps issued before the unification by the Italian States. These - with the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy - were merged in Turin under the General Directorate of Public Works which was in charge of the Post. This was made possible by the availability of suitable labour wich supported those who had started this new type of collection. At the same time, as the first collectors started to appear, the first dealers started to be active, often just as adevelopment from collecting, where the distinction between collecting and dealing was often very subtle. The parallel between collecting and dealing in the subject of collecting itself, however, has been a long debated concept if one considers what “Jean Clavel” wrote on the “L’Echò de la Timbrologiè” in 1928: “... .. It is not a paradox to say that those who live in philately are those who in turn make it live.” The bibliography of philately, however, has very little to offer on the origins of the philatelic trade in Italy; but it must be remembered that the American John K. Tiffany reported in “The Philatelical Library: a catalog of Stamp publication” published in St. Louis in 1874, in a list of bulletins published by philatelic dealers from various countries, four Italians: “F. Caldelli” in Florence in 1866, “G. Leoni” in Bologna in 1874, “Paolo Norberto” in Turin in 1864 and “Tartarini & C.” in Bologna in 1872 in “The Philatelical Library: a catalogue of Stamp publication”published in St. Louis in 1874, in his list of price lists or circulars published by philatelic dealers from various countries. And it is precisely the same “Paolo Norberto” who was mentioned in an article published in 1940 in the magazine ‘Il Corriere Filatelico’ titled: “Two pioneers of the Italian philatelic trade: Giuseppe Arduin and Carlo Cocorda”. The article mentions that Giuseppe Arduin had started to trade in stamps in the 1860s using the pseudonym of “Paolo Norberto” since as a bank employee he did not consider it appropriate to use his real name. Carlo Cocorda, instead, whose real name was Charles Coucourde as his origins were the valleys of Valtellina, moved to Turin around 1859, where he transformed his initial interest in stamp collecting into a commercial activity (Fig.1). 31

The concept of evolution from collecting to trading stamps is well expressed in a letter from Charles Coucorde to Ulisse Franchi of Florence, another early collector and trader philatelist, and author of the first Italian stamp catalogue. Between the autumn of 1865 and the spring of 1870 Coucourde wrote: “I had your address from a friend and so I permit myself to be in direct contact with you. I too am an amateur and also to a small extent a dealer, and I would consider myself to be fortunate to start doing business with you.“ Charles Coucourde died in December 1873 and his death was reported by the Parisian magazine “Le collectionneur de Timbres-poste” in these terms: “... we announce the death of Mr. Charles Coucourde known by stamp dealers for having provided them over a long period of time with new postage stamps from the old Italian States, which he had found in large numbers in a barn belonging to the Administration of the Post Office”. What is most striking, however, is how these individuals managed to develop a number of contacts with other dealers and collectors not only outside the cities where they were operating but also abroad. This is evidenced by a letter that was sent in October 1866 from London to Carlo Cocorda, where he is expressly defined in the address as “stamp dealer”; this is precisely the aspect that I consider worthy of attention, as it documents an activity that from the embryonic state soon spread beyond national borders (Fig. 2). In the aforementioned Coucourde correspondence there was an explicit reference also to another early collector - trader, a certain “Luigi Dal Cesso”, who was at the time a young student in the technical schools of Turin, and who was in contact with several collectors and dealers, including foreign, to whom he also provided stamps of the old Italian states, these too coming from ministerial stocks, as proven by the envelope reproduced here. It is an envelope from the editorial board of the magazine “Welt - Post” sent on 18 August 1884 to Dal Cesso, who had now moved to Venice, by Sigmund Friedl (1851 - 1914) one of the most famous Austrian stamp dealers of the late nineteenth century (Fig. 3). Friedl lived in Vienna, where in about 1866 he began his activities aged fifteen and in 1876 he published the magazine “Wiener Illustrierte BriefmarkenZeitung” whose name changed to “Welt-Post” in 1881. The small initial group 32


Fig. 2

Fig. 3

of dealers was later joined by others on the impetus of a greater diffusion of philatelic collecting, including a Vittorio Arduin from Turin, a relative of the aforementioned Giuseppe Arduin, who also dedicated himself to the sale of stamps and to philatelic publishing under the pseudonym of “Vittorio Durani”. Arduin, aka Vittorio Durani, was the owner of the newspaper “San Marino / Corriere dei Francobolli”, a publication that he edited from 1894 until May 1898. The mentioned philatelic magazine by Duran, aka Arduin, was not the first to be published in Italy by a dealer: the first ever was the “Posta Mondiale”, published in Leghorn in July 1873 by “Placido Ramon de Torres“. Torres, of Spanish origin, had his philatelic dealership in Leghorn, in via Maggi and in the same year he also edited a “Catalogo / Prezzo corrente / di tutti i / franco - bolli dalla loro data di emissione sino al 1873” (Catalogue / current price / of all /stamps from their date of issue until 1873) (Fig. 5). It should be noted, however, that the aforementioned publication, rather than a catalogue in today’s sense of the word, was more a list of what the author owned or knew. The first Italian philatelic monthly however had a short life, as the publication ceased - after only twelve issues - in July of the following year due to unknown reasons, probably as a result of disagreements between Torres and count “Giulio Cesare Bonasi” of Carpi, for whom Torres only acted as a figurehead. Count Bonasi, a person of questionable ethics, was actively involved in trading stamps with the help of his wife.

Fig. 4: Magazine with a label addressed to Hiram Deats (1870-1963) a well known American collector in Flemington, New Jersey in July 1897, saying on one side “San Marino Corriere dei Francobolli / periodico del collezionista”, and showing on the other, together with the illustration of four stamps, the wording “The stock exchange of stamps / Illustrated catalogue with current prices” Fig. 5


Fig. 6 Fig. 7 Fig. 8 Fig. 9: double weight insured letter sent to Charles Diena from Florence in January 1891.

After managing to become accepted among the honest middle classes, at the end of the eighties he worked for a long time in Rome where he took over the activity of another merchant of the time, the Rabuffetti company, as documented by the header on the fragment of a registered letter sent by him from Rome to Modena to Emilio Diena in September 1888 (Fig. 6). After winding up his activities in Rome, Bonasi moved to Milan and later to Genoa from where in December 1899 he sent the registered letter to Toulouse (France) shown in Fig. 7. Among the philatelic dealers of nineteenth-century Italy, it is worth mentioning a little-known figure, but with an important surname, Carlo Diena, elder brother of that Emilio Diena who rose to universal fame as one of the most qualified philatelists of all time. Little is known about Carlo Diena. He was born in Modena in 1850, ten years before his more famous brother, and his activity in the philatelic trade demonstrates that he was active outside the national borders of Italy and had contacts with collectors and traders of different nationalities. The reputation of ‘Charles’ Diena, as he was referred to in the world of collecting, is witnessed by the correspondence that he entertained, 34


like the registered single weight letter sent by Rufisque (in the Dakar region of Western Senegal) on March 25th, 1884, addressed to him in via Torre in Modena, where the residence of the Diena family has always been. The registered letter bears a five-color franking of the general issue for the French colonies with denomination in cents since Senegal-specific stamps were issued only beginning in 1887 (Fig 8). The little biographical information existing about Charles Diena reports his death as having occurred in 1892 in Montecarlo. Based on the available information, it is possible to imagine that around 1891 he may have left

Modena and the family home after the death of his father and the closure of the family banking business. During the same period his residence in Nice on the Cote d’Azur is documented (Fig. 9) and this could give credit to the indication of Montecarlo as a possible place of his death, but certainly not by the previously mentioned date of 1892, given the existence of correspondence addressed to him a decade later (Fig. 10). Another interesting name among those who developed the philatelic trade in Italy during the last decades of the nineteenth century is that of “Ettore Ragozino”, an important figure in the Neapolitan philatelic trade. The reverse of a postcard bearing in the header the reproduction of the two Dictatorship of Garibaldi stamps that Ragozino sent to Dresden in September 1898 states among other things: “Our house, which today is the most important in Italy for the trade in stamps, was founded in 1878” (Fig. 11). It should be remembered that Ragozino’s commercial fortunes began with the purchase of a sack full of newspapers that was brought to him by the servant of a noble Neapolitan family, which were franked with the provisional ½ tornese “Trinacria” and “Crocetta” stamps. Of similar interest is the commercial activity of Mr. “A. Greco” also from Naples, to whom a French collector of Chalon sur Saone wrote in February 1891, responding to an advertisement published by Greco on the journal “L’Echo de la Timbrologie”. This demonstrates the resourcefulness of these first members of the Italian philatelic trade, working with other European countries to expand their clientele (Fig. 12). A similar example is provided by the Neapolitan company of Mr. Nicola Fiorentino, who in April 1899, on the

Fig. 10: Postcard addressed to Diena in Florence from Switzerland in 1902.

Fig. 11


threshold of the new century, sent out his own list of offers in a beautiful envelope decorated with the two Dictatorship of Garibaldi stamps of Naples, following Ragozino’s example, according to what then was a widespread custom (Fig. 13, April 1899 Printed matter from Naples to Westphalia). Another merchant active in Italy since the last decade of the nineteenth century, although not Italian but German, was “Otto Bickel”, who established himself in the Republic of San Marino between 1891 and 1892 and made it his domicile for a long time. He worked at the promotion of the stamps of San Marino through the “San Marino Philatelist”, the magazine that he edited and that he sent all over the world. We are reminded of Bickel’s international relations by the characteristic illustrated envelope showing views of the Titano which he produced to advertise his activities, a copy of which, sent to Brussels on December 8, 1899 is reproduced in Fig. 14. With the end of the nineteenth century, better structured businesses started to appear in the Italian philatelic market, whose activity continued over time.The nineteenth century was closing on a now unified Italy, with a bourgeoisie that had consolidated its economic and social importance and in this context philately began to develop throughout the nation together with the related trade. I would like to conclude by mentioning a dealer who, at the end of the nineteenth century, started an important activity destined to last for a long time, “Romolo Mezzadri”. We are reminded of him by the letter which he received from the Echo de la Timbrologie in September 1900 in Civitanova Marche where he used to spend his summer holiday (Fig. 15). Romolo Mezzadri had his studio in Rome, initially in Piazza del Pantheon at the corner with Via del Seminario and later in the the already very central Via Condotti; he was supplier of stamps to Queen Elena, who had been collecting stamps since she was still a Princess. She collected for herself first and then for her son, young prince Umberto., who later became a keen expert on the stamps of the old Italian states, and who was one of the founders of the Italian Philatelic Association of Rome, which in 2014 celebrated its centenary. My aim was that of providing a documentary insight into the early days of the philatelic activity in Italy. My endeavor does not claim to be exhaustive and in fact other traders were active in the philatelic business at the end of the nineteenth century in various Italian locations, but I hope to have provided some insight into the development of a sector which continued to expand in the following decades.



Fig. 12 Fig. 13 Fig. 14

Fig. 15


ONE CENTURY OF ROYAL AFFAIRS: the communication between the Royal Household of Great Britain and of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies Martino Laurenzi New Jersey, USA



Few places in the world can boast a rich past like the south of Italy. In particular Sicily, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean sea, has been home to many different populations, falling under different governance, including, in chronological order, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Vandal, Ostrogoth, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, the Holy Roman Empire, Angevin, Aragonese, Savoy, Austrian Hapsburg, Bourbon, and finally Italian.

Fig. 1: Charles VI of Austria Holy Roman Emperor 1685-1740.

It is not difficult to understand why the study of the history of this land is among the most challenging and daunting of all. At this time it is appropriate to reassure (or to warn, depending on points of view) the reader about the scope of this short article, which will focus only on the period of the Bourbon domination, a little longer than 100 years. Far from addressing the complex issues of the real history, that which one reads about in the books of history, it will take a backroad approach, so to speak, to illustrate some of the formal yet personal issues affecting the lives of the members of the courts of Great Britain and of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies using evidence from letters addressed to members of the royal Sicilian household. The historian will have to forgive the low-key approach, while the philatelist will have to live without any erudite dissertation of printings, watermarks or colour varieties. The postal historian however might - hopefully - find some interest in getting a less than usual exposure to the everyday life of kings, queens, princes and princesses, finding out first-hand about real friendships and court jealousies, intrigue, joy and sorrow, royal weddings and royal funerals. Being a modest student of postal history himself, the author has always been intrigued by the insights that can be contributed to the interpretation of ‘big’ history through the daily comments that can be gathered from the daily correspondence of small people. Here the writers are certainly not small people, but they are often talking about daily life events, which is why this material is interesting to the point of wanting to share it.



First one needs to take at least a cursory look at the historical background of the events affecting the political scene from the mid 18th Century to the mid 19thCentury, which cannot be easily extricated from the backdrop of the broader European scene. The two separate kingdoms of Naples and of Sicily were reunited in 1720 under the Austrian Emperor Charles VI. In 1734, during the war of Polish Succession, Charles of Bourbon, Duke of Parma (Fig. 3), son of Philip V of Spain (Fig.2), took the Neapolitan and Sicilian crowns from the Austrians. When in 1759, Charles became King Carlos III of Spain he reassigned Sicily and Naples to his son, who became Ferdinand III of Sicily and Ferdinand IV of Naples. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies remained under the Bourbon line (Bourbon Two Sicilies) almost continually until 1860 with one only interruption during the Napoleonic era. In fact Napoleon conquered the peninsular portion of the kingdom during the War of the Third Coalition in 1806 and placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte (Fig.4) on the throne of Naples as king. During those years Ferdinand fled from Naples to Palermo, the capital of Sicily, his other kingdom. Here the alliance he had previously made with George III of the United Kingdom and Tory Prime Minister the Earl of Liverpool saved him. The British in fact protected Ferdinand and the island of Sicily from Napoleonic conquest with the presence of Royal Navy’s powerful fleet. In 1808, as Joseph Bonaparte was given the crown of Spain, Napoleon’s brother in law, Joachim Murat (Fig. 5) had become the second Bonapartist king of Naples. After the disastrous battle of Leipzig, Murat actually switched sides for a while, abandoning Napoleon’s Grand Army in an attempt to save his Neapolitan throne. He eventually returned to Napoleon’s side, and together with him he declared war on the Austrian Empire, leading to the Neapolitan War in March of 1815. At the Congress of Vienna that year the most vocal of all Murat’s opponents was in fact the United Kingdom, which had never recognised Murat’s claim to the throne and moreover had been protecting Ferdinand in Sicily, ensuring that he retained the Sicilian throne. Eventually the Congress of Vienna restored King Ferdinand to his throne, and to avoid further French attempts, it was agreed that Ferdinand would reunite his kingdom under a single crown. He thus became Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. During the years that followed the Congress, the unified Kingdom of the Two Sicilies maintained good 41

relations with Britain. The support against the Napoleonic rulers that had been provided by the British was never forgotten, and the interactions between the two courts were intense and cordial. The two countries exchanged some of their best diplomats contributing to the maintenance of good relations. However the post-Napoleonic era saw significant changes in the European balance of power which affected relations between Britain and Sicily as well.Between 1816 and 1848, Sicily experienced three popular revolts against Bourbon rule, including the revolution of 1848, when the island - but not the mainland - was fully independent of Bourbon control for 16 months. Among all the small Italian States created by the Congress, the Kingdom of Sardinia took on itself a leading role in exploiting the desire of national unity that had existed for a long time, and that had been spurred on by the creation of the Italian Republic during the years of the Napoleonic era. Sardinia’s Prime Minister, Camillo Benso di Cavour (Fig. 6), was very active in promoting good relations with the great powers, and in 1853 he managed to have Sardinia become an ally to France and Britain in the war against Russia (The “Crimean War”). The good will generated by that alliance between Britain and Sardinia paid handsome dividends over the long term, as it was instrumental in obtaining British support for the unification of Italy under the Sardinian crown. As part of the unification process, in 1860 Sicily was invaded by a corps of volunteers, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, supported and secretly financed by the Kingdom of Sardinia. They successfully conquered the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and its territory was later incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy. The support of the British Royal Navy to Sardinia was an important factor in ensuring the success of the operations, which ultimately led to the demise of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In an event-filled half a century, the British fleet had gone from saving the throne of the Bourbons to helping to put an end to it. The events that characterised that period are the subject of scores of erudite books and treaties, and the writer is certainly not in the position of adding much to the many existing essays. However the review of some of the correspondence between households - although mostly formal and official - allows us to understand the context and gives an insight into the actual feelings of the writers. This review will only cover a few items, taken from a recent publication to which readers are referred should they be interested in the subject. 42


Fig. 2: Philip V of Bourbon King of Spain 1683-1746.

Fig. 4: Joseph Bonaparte King of Naples 1768-1844.

Fig. 3: Charles III of Bourbon King of Naples and King of Spain 1716-1788.

Fig. 5: Joachim Murat King of Naples 1767-1815. Fig. 6: Camillo Benso of Cavour 1810-1861.

Fig. 7: King George I 1660-1727. Fig. 8: King George II 1683-1760. Fig. 9: King George III 1738 - 1820.

On the following pages we are presenting some items from the official correspondence addressed to the Court of the Two th th Sicilies from Great Britain, from the middle of the 18 Century through to the middle of the 19 Century. They provide an insight into the links between the two Courts and comprise both political and national issues as well as personal and family ones. As such they help in better understanding this fascinating historical period.

The Stuart royal line became extinct with Queen Anne’s death in 1714. After the death of her son William, just 11 years old, the Act of Settlement, passed by the Parliament, determined that the crown should go to Protestant descendants not married to Catholics, identifying in Sophia of the Palatinate, a descendant of the Stuarts but Protestant, the future ruling line. For this reason the next king was George of Hanover, son of Sofia, born in Germany and Protestant. He was preferred to a possible king born in England but a Catholic, in adherence to the Anglican schism begun centuries earlier by Henry VIII of Tudor. Since then the royal family of the United Kingdom has been predominantly German. At his death in 1727 George I (Fig. 7) was succeeded by his oldest son, George II (Fig.8). He too had been brought up with a German education, and Hanover was as important to him as was the United Kingdom. The first letter from this correspondence is dated 26th of April 1743: George II from London writes to Charles III of Naples and Sicily in support of his special envoy. Probably this was a request to withdraw the army that Charles III had sent in order to support the French and Spanish troops, put under pressure by the British fleet. A few notes are here in order here. The letters of the British Royals were transported by envoys

Fig. 10: George II to Charles III on political issues.

Next is an example of the formal address panel on a letter from John Adolph II, Duke of Saxony-Weissenfels to his niece Maria Amalia (Fig. 12). Maria Amalia of Saxony (1724 -1760) of the House of Wettin, daughter of Augustus III of Poland was the wife of Charles III and Queen of Naples and Sicily from 1738 to 1759, then Queen of Spain until her death in 1760. Of note in this letter (Fig. 13 - the only nonBritish letter in this review) is the incredible penmanship both on the panel and in the body of the letter, clearly not the Duke’s handwriting.



Fig. 11: George II to Charles III on family issues.

and therefore they do not carry any postage mark. This letter - as all others presented here - was written by a secretary, and the monarch only added a closing salutation and his signature. The language used was English, which was not King George’s preferred language. The languages used by royals in this century were English, French and sometimes Latin. The mother tongue of George II was German and that of Charles was Spanish. In some instances the address is very concise - like in this case - in some others it is a very formal panel, lengthy and convoluted. After the previous letter, politically oriented, the next goes into personal and family business. Dated 28th May 28th June 1743, George II writes to Charles III to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter Maria Isabella Anna (who died only six years later, in 1749), the third of the thirteen children that Carlo had by his wife Maria Amalia of Saxony. The letter was written in Hanover, the birthplace of George, where he faced the Franco / Prussian forces and defeated them at the battle of Dettingen only a few days later, on 27 June 1743. Dettingen was the last time that a British monarch led his troops into battle. Notice the archival note added to the letter in Spanish (“Hannover 28 Mayo 1743 Al Rey/ El Rey de Inglaterra/ en 5 Julio”) - which was at the time the first language at King Charles’ court.

Fig. 12: Queen Maria Amalia of Naples and Spain 1724-1760. Fig. 13: Adolf of Saxony to Queen Maria Amalia.


Fig. 14: George III to Ferdinand I. Right page: Fig. 15: Queen Charlotte 1744-1818. Fig. 16: Queen Charlotte to King Ferdinand I.



The next two letters presented were written on the 24th of September 1790: King George III (Fig. 9) - who had succeeded to the British throne from his grandfather George II in 1760 - signs his name in Latin to Ferdinand I who in turn had succeeded his father in 1759 - about the wedding of his son the heir to the throne and of Ferdinand’s two daughters with members of the royal family of Austria (Fig. 14). The letter is certainly written by a secretary. Ferdinand I (1751-1825) was the son of Charles III and became regent of the thrones of Naples and Sicily in 1759 at the age of nine, when his father became King of Spain.

On that same day Queen Charlotte (Fig. 15), wife of King George III also congratulated King Ferdinand I for the same triple marriage of his son Francis, heir to the throne and two of his daughters, confirming that this triple royal wedding - held in Naples on the 15th of August 1790 - was the centre of attention throughout Europe. Royal best wishes were in fact received from the courts of Europe, including France, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were prisoners of the revolution in the Tuileries. The wife of King Ferdinand I of Naples, Maria Carolina, was the sister of Marie Antoinette; she gave eighteen children to King Ferdinand. Both letters were written from St. James’ Palace, but one should notice their different ‘feel’: the king’s is in Latin, and the address panel is very formal (Serenissimo et Potentissimo Principi Domino Ferdinando Utriusque Siciliae Regi & Fratri Consanguineo et Amico Nostro Carissimo”) while Queen Charlotte is writing in French and her address panel is of the very simple type (A Monsieur mon Frere le Roi des deux Sicilies Fig. 16). The official letter of the King is countersigned by the Duke of Leeds, who served as Foreign Secretary under William Pitt, while the Queen’s more private letter bears no countersignature.


Fig. 17: George III to the Queen of Naples about the death of his brother.



Fig. 18: The Prince Regent/King George IV. Fig. 19: The Prince Regent to the King of Naples after the Congress of Vienna.

A much less formal letter from King George is shown in Figure 17. This is in French, and it is addressed with a simple panel to the Queen of Naples. It expresses the mourning for the death of the king’s brother William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh. In spite of the somewhat formal tone, the pain of the king is felt, and this is no surprise as William was very close to the king. The letter was written in Weymouth, a seaside resort that the king liked and where he sojourned regularly as it helped him with the symptoms of the disease that would eventually have him labelled as the ‘Mad King’. By comparing this letter - written in 1805 - with the previous one written fifteen years earlier, one can see that the final salutation is not in George’s handwriting anymore, and only the signature appears to be the king’s original. After the death in 1810 of Princess Amelia, his beloved daughter, the mental health of King George III worsened rapidly and forced him to accept the ‘Regency Act’ of 1811. This act conferred on his son the powers and title of Prince Regent, which he maintained until his father’s death in 1820, the year in which he ascended to the throne with the name of George IV. The decade from 1810 -1820 saw some fundamental changes on the European scene, including the end of the Napoleonic era and the return to the status quo of pre-Napoleon days, which was formalised by the Congress of Vienna of 1815. Figure 19 shows a letter that the Prince Regent wrote in June 1815, the same month that the Congress had finished its work and had re-drawn the borders of post-Napoleonic Europe. King Ferdinand I had the Kingdom of Naples returned, which was unified with the Kingdom of Sicily with the name of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The congratulations that the Prince Regent expresses are a testimony to the real support that Britain had given to King Ferdinand throughout the Napoleonic years. During that time it was thanks to the presence of the Royal Navy that Napoleon could not conquer Sicily, as it provided to Ferdinand’s court a safe haven in Palermo. Notice that in spite of the political and formal nature of this letter, there is no countersignature by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on it, and that the language is now English. The letter was written from the Palace of Carlton House, which was the Prince’s own residence (note the endorsement “My Palace”). Last but certainly not least note is that he signs as ‘George PR’, where PR stands for Prince Regent and that the final salutation - as in most of his official letters - appears not to be the Prince’s handwriting. This is not surprising as George’s lifestyle was quite extreme, his habits decadent and his conditions - including a severe form of gout - made it painful for him to hold a pen in his hands.


Going from big picture politics to very personal issues, Fig. 20 shows the letter with which the Prince Regent informs King Ferdinand I of the death of Charlotte, Princess of Wales (Fig. 21). She was the daughter of the Regent and of Caroline of Brunswick (Fig. 23), his estranged wife, and his only legitimate child. Charlotte who had married Prince Leopold of Belgium, died on November 6th 1817 delivering a stillborn child. The letter mentions that “…the melancholy event took place at two and a half this morning”. George’s feelings must have been quite raw (Fig. 22) - he was very fond of Charlotte - and the fact that he was addressing this mournful event just a few hours after it occurred is quite surprising. Upon the death of his father, king George III, on January 29, 1820, the Prince Regent finally ascended to the throne as King George IV. Although that shown as Figure 24 is another mourning letter written only two days after his father’s death, George’s excitement on ascending to the ‘throne of this Imperial Kingdom’ is palpable, and conspicuous not only through the words he uses but also through the unusual length of his autograph note, especially considering the previously mentioned

Fig. 20: The Prince Regent to King Ferdinand about the death of the Princess of Wales.

Fig. 21: King George IV’s daughter Charlotte the Princess of Wales. Portrait by George Dawe about 1816 Fig. 22: The Prince Regent / King George IV. ‘A Voluptuary under the horrors of digestion’ George IV (Prince Regent 1811-1820) when Prince of Wales, showing his extravagance, grossness and selfindulgence. Cartoon by James Gilray (1756-1815), published London 1792. Fig. 23: King George IV’s wife Caroline of Brunswick 1768-1821 Portrait c. 1820 by James Lonsdale, “Principal Painter in Ordinary to the Queen”.

Fig. 24: The Prince Regent now King George IV about the death of the King his father.

difficulty that he had in holding the pen. This is the first time that he can finally drop the P from his signature and sign as King (‘George R’). The letter is countersigned by Lord Castlereagh, Napoleon’s staunch enemy, and a great supporter of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; it is possible that he might have been the one inspiring the sincere wishes in this letter for a continued collaboration between the two crowns.

William Henry Duke of Clarence (1765 - 1837) (Fig. 25) was the third son of George III and younger brother of George IV. On the death of his brother, which occurred on the 26th of June, 1830, he became King of the United Kingdom and Hanover with the name of William IV. He was the last king and the penultimate British monarch of the House of Hanover. This letter (Fig. 26), written from Windsor Castle, served the purpose of introducing to the King of Naples the new British Envoy Lord Ponsonby, and it is a rare case where the person charged with the delivery is named in the letter; Lord Ponsonby’s mission was over by November of that same year. An intriguing question is raised by the correction of the last word of King William’s salutation: it appears as if the expression “your Majesty’s Good Friend” was changed to read “Your Majesty’s Good Brother”. There is no countersignature and the correction appears to be in the King’s own handwriting.

Fig 25: King William IV. Fig 26: King William IV to the King of Naples re. the appointment of Lord Ponsonby.



Fig. 27: Queen Victoria to the Queen of Naples re. her ascending to the throne upon the death of her uncle King William IV.

Fig. 28: 20th June 1837: the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham announce to Victoria that she is now Queen.

On June 20, 1837, King William IV died, leaving no children that could inherit his titles. The crown passed to the daughter of the deceased younger brother of the last two kings, the Duke of Kent. Her name was Alexandrina Victoria, and she had turned 18 years old only one month before her uncle’s death. One week after the event in this letter - written from Kensington Palace where she had been raised almost in isolation by her mother - the 18 year old who had chosen to be queen with the name of Victoria informs her good sister the Queen of the Two Sicilies about the death of her uncle. Mourning letters can also convey information about important changes, and this one (Fig. 27) is no exception.

Fig. 27: Queen Victoria to the Queen of Naples re. her ascending to the throne upon the death of her uncle King William IV.

Fig. 29: Queen Victoria 1819-1901. Fig. 30: Queen Victoria to the Queen of Naples about her wedding to Prince Albert.

In fact “…upon ascending to the throne of this Kingdom” Victoria also gives reassurance about her intention of continuing the good relation between the two crowns, and she confirms the choice of Britain’s envoy to Naples, ie. William Temple, who was also the one who delivered the letter. Of interest here is the fact that the Queen is writing to the Queen of Naples rather than to the King. The initial years of Queen Victoria’s reign were fraught with challenges. Internally she had to overcome her mother’s overpowering temperament, and externally she had to deal with a public opinion disenchanted with the many excesses and decadence that had characterised the royalty of the first four decades of the century. Her youth, her qualities and her personal situation however helped her to overcome the initial difficulties, and to turn public opinion around. An important help came with her wedding to the Belgian Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. The couple - so different from the previous royals - inspired Britain and gave the country leadership through their example. 55

They were married in the Royal Chapel of St. James’ Palace on February 10th, 1840. Their union was a happy one, cemented by real love, and it is tempting to think that it is not by chance that the letter with which Victoria informs the Queen of Naples about the “…event so important to me and to my kingdom…” was written at Windsor Castle on February 14th. What is evident is that Victoria - now not yet 21 years old -was not away from her royal duties for too long, but at the same time she was clearly not ignoring her private life. As a matter of fact her first child - Victoria the Princess Royal, future wife of Kaiser Frederick III of Germany - was born in November of 1840 - nine months after the royal wedding. During the sixty-three years of the reign of Queen Victoria Great Britain experienced significant progress

in many areas, social, political and industrial, becoming the prominent world power. On the other hand the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was caught in a negative spiral and by 1860 it ceased to exist, invaded, conquered and subjugated by Sardinia without a war ever being declared. In spite of that, many battles and armed confrontations took place, which this time saw the Royal Navy’s intervention against the Two Sicilies. The result was that as of October 21st 1860 Naples and all the South were officially annexed to the North, and they became a province of the new kingdom of Italy. That put an end to the kingdom of Francis II - the last King of Naples - and therefore to the correspondence used for this review. The hope is that the reader who has had the patience to read this far has appreciated the unusual approach to history afforded by the analysis of these few letters.

Fig. 31: Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg . Fig. 32: Queen Victoria in her wedding dress. Fig. 33: February 10th, 1840: The Wedding in the Royal Chapel of St. James.


Poughkeepsie (NY), USA



What constitutes a letter? A letter is the reason for the existence of the covering that contains it. From the earliest days through the mid-19th century, the vast majority of letters were sent folded and sealed, first with wax and later with wafers. What was of paramount importance to the correspondents? The privacy of the contents, and how to achieved it? Given the importance of sealing the letter to ensure privacy, there is surprisingly little information on how that privacy was maintained. There is but a single book dedicated to this topic, Adhesive Wafer Seals by Michael Champness and David Trapnell (1996). Passing note of them is made in Michael Finlay’s Western Writing Implements (1990). My British colleagues know of no other significant references. In this article, we look at various intrinsic methods of sealing a letter during the 19th century. Prior to 1839, postage was charged based on the number of sheets and distance; an envelope, then, would represent another sheet and thus increase postage cost. It was not until the introduction of the uniform Penny Post (based solely on weight) that envelopes as we know them came into general use. Initially, envelopes were not gummed and therefore had to be sealed by some other method, as noted above. By the late 1840s, envelopes appeared that had glue applied to the inside of the tip of the flap. There

were often designs embossed in that area to give the appearance of an applied matrix or wafer. Even so, wafer seals can be found used in conjunction with such pre-gummed, even embossed, flaps. Even with the advent of fully gummed envelopes, wafer seals were still used, often by merchants to promote their business, products or services or by special interests such as religious or temperance groups. This practice continued well into the late 19th century when the wafer seal was gradually replaced by the poster stamp for those purposes.

Fig. 7: This bronze “wax jack� would have had a wick extending from its mouth which, when lit, would melt the wax, permitting it to drip onto the letter.


The Materials used in making Letter Seals The sealing of communications with wax dates to the earliest days of writing on paper. Wax was originally made of 2/3 beeswax and 1/3 resin with additional colouring or not. It should be noted much of the so-called “wax” after the mid-16th century was in reality a mixture of shellac and powdered vermilion. But we use the term “wax” nonetheless. Prior to 1635, the post was a royal prerogative and sealing was done with an armorial matrix (the device used to impress the wax, what we would call a desk seal); at that time, merchants used private posts but similar sealing methods. After 1635 and the expansion of the postal service, wax seals were employed extensively by the upper classes and gentry as well as merchants. Most commonly, the design consisted of the user’s initials, coatof-arms or appropriate heraldic symbol. Many companies engaged in seal engraving (Fig.1). Most matrices were for desk use; they come in a number of sizes (Fig. 3). Many are found in ring or watch fob form (Fig. 2). Later, a simple crosshatched matric was used to impress the less pliable wafer seals (Fig. 4 and 5). The matrix was usually supplied to the purchaser with a “proof” impression of its incised design; they are very hard to find (Fig. 6).

Fig. 1: Two examples of labels used by seal matrix makers, usually pasted to the inside of the top of the box the matrix came in.

Fig. 2: A matrix engraved in stone, mounted in gold, carried as a watch fob. Fig. 3: A small matrix sold at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition with the talismanic all-seeing eye design. Fig. 4: A crosshatch matrix. Fig. 5: The use of a crosshatch matrix to impress an initial wafer onto a folded 1d. Black drop letter, 1841 within Liverpool forwarded to Queen’s College, Cambridge, with another 1d. Black. Fig. 6: Small box with “proof” impression of a matrix design.



Wax was melted using a “wax jack,” dripping the wax onto the letter join or envelope flap (See Fig. 7, page 59). To assure even more protection from tampering, a piece of paper might be placed over that wax upon which was made a blind stamp with the user’s seal. There is a group of cameo (“medallion”) wafers that are rather thick and very fragile, popular from about 17801830. They were made by a different method, using pure glue mixed with a colouring agent dissolved in water to make a syrupy mix. The syrup was poured into an actual seal matrix. As it dried, it took on the intricate detail of the design. They were avidly collected, often mounted on card to be given as a keepsake. They usually feature classical or genre scenes. Wedgwood was one of the early makers

(Fig. 8). A number of other manufacturers have been identified, a topic for another article. They were sold in small boxes. Because of their fragility, the earliest types are virtually never seen on cover. A small, later (1840) cameo example is shown in Figure 9, the only one I’ve seen. There was at least one attempt to introduce a truly wax-like seal. Mr. F.R. Lewis of Cork created his “Composition Seal” around 1840, available with a number of mottoes and images. What they were made of is unknown. Only sample impressions of a single seal are recorded. The promotional flyer that accompanied the sample lists the its design as #73 (Fig. 10). They, too, were quite fragile and none have been found on cover.

Fig. 8: The exquisitely detailed designs and characteristic Wedgwood blue identify the maker of the cameos on this gift card; at the top, a Maenad (follower of Dionysius); below, Cupid; a suggestive combination. Fig. 9: Rare use of a medallion wafer as a seal, Bath to London, 1840.

Fig. 10: The flyer and impression of Emblem [design] 73 made by F. R. Lewis of Cork, c. 1840.


The development of the wafer seal was the result of looking for a simpler method than using heated wax and a matrix. Note that, for other than true wax seals, I use the terms “wafer,” “wafer seal” and “seal” more or less interchangeably; “seal” is more commonly used in the U.S.; in Britain a “seal” referred, formally, to that made by a matrix in wax. The earliest reference I have found to “wafer seals” is in an ad, by Nasmyth, Clark & Co., on the front page of the 12 December 1814 issue of The Edinburgh Correspondent (Fig. 11). The simplest wafers were made of various thicknesses of a wheat, egg and gelatin preparation called isinglass. The least expensive were unadorned transparent disks made in sheets and die-cut into circles. Somewhat more expensive were those with printing upon them, usually in gold or silver and quite hard to read, sold in sheets (Fig. 12). Stationers might offer them pre-applied to fancy ladies’ envelopes (Fig. 13). More expensive were those made in an embossing press and usually coloured; pure white ones are uncommon. They were opaque and closely simulated a true wax seal (Fig. 14). The embossing was made by a machine similar to the one used by Charles Wilding for his elaborate and highly collectible trade cards (Fig. 15). Wilding was also a security printer and claimed that his method of combining colour and embossing made forgery more difficult. Most other types were made of paper. They could be mono or polychrome. Some have a metallic surface, simulating foil (Fig. 16).

Fig. 12: Isinglass wafers, like other quadrilateral forms, were made in sheets to be cut apart. Here a block with different styles of the letter “S.” Fig. 14: Three examples of embossed wafers resembling wax: a sailing ship (“Such is Life”); a bouquet of flowers and a group of Masonic symbols.



Fig. 11: Earliest reference to wafer seals I’ve seen. Fig. 13: A lovely ladies’ envelope with pre-applied isinglass wafer, ready for use. “All’s well/that/ends well.”

Figure 15: Charles Wilding’s heavily embossed bust of Queen Victoria on a display card for pen nibs published just after her Coronation. Figure 16: Paper wafers: embossed “gold” foil with a balloon (“Bon Voyage”). Figure 17: The earliest known use of a wafer seal, June 1, 1837, with a bust of Francesco Petrarch, father of Humanism.

All were meant to replace the wax seal and their use antedated somewhat the regular use of envelopes so that they may be found on folded letters as well as on envelopes. Indeed, the earliest known use of a paper wafer is 1837 (Fig. 17). It is often not possible to date with precision when a particular type came into use, as there is considerable overlap. Let me make a few general statements about wafer formats. Regardless of material used, wafers are found in many shapes: all manner of quadrilaterals, circular, oval or die-cut, usually imperforate, rarely serrated (usually for use on official documents), never perforated. The quadrilateral types were usually produced in sheets of se-tenant designs. Large multiples are rare (Fig. 18) and the use of more than one wafer on a letter is distinctly uncommon (Fig. 19). They were also available precut and sold in small envelopes or boxes (Fig. 20).

Fig. 18: A full sheet of all different se-tenant motto wafers. Such sheets may be found intact but cut up with appropriate wafers being selected and removed from the interior. Fig. 19: Two strips of paper wafers, 1846, a rare usage. Fig. 20: An ornate wafer envelope: Harris, Brothers Oriental Sentiment Wafers. A small De La Rue box for motto wafers;


Those who could not afford the more expensive wafers could use plain paper “paste seals” which, like the gelatin type, were to be moistened on both sides and placed beneath the tip of the flap. Pressure was then applied with a paperweight to seal the letter. From time to time, one can find the combination of a simple paste seal with another type of [ungummed] wafer that required an application of glue superimposed. The writing kit shown in Figure 21 contains many of the wafer types I’ve described: plain, round isinglass, small white paste wafers, embossed wafers of various types and paper ones. Note also that it contains a pen nib and a small piece of sealing wax. Stationers had a wide variety of wafers to choose from to offer their clients. Traveling salesmen carried sample books from which a selection could be made. The one in Fig. 22 is the only one I know of.

Fig. 21: A writing kit with numerous types of wafers. The pen body is usually missing from these sets. Fig. 22: A wafer salesman’s sample book from c. 1840.



Fig. 23: A small envelope was used to sell wafers in packets of 100. All those (about 80) remaining in this packet have a silver monogram “M”.

How Wafers imparted their Message Above, we have looked at wafers by material used. The next step is to look at the message on the wafer, regardless of material. The simplest is merely the initial of the sender, sold in small envelopes (Fig. 23). Finding two wafers of any type on an envelope is scarce (Fig. 24). As seen in examples shown in some of the figures above, the message might be purely text, purely image or a combination of both. Most are generic referring to or implying messages of love, friendship, home and longing among other sentiments. The text is usually simple and the image, if there is one, is semiotically related to the text. The strips used on the cover in Figure 19 show these two iterations; the second from the left includes the image of a dog as a symbol of “Your Faithful Friend.” In the absence of text, the image alone imparts the message (see the Masonic symbol in Fig. 14). These generic types account for most of the wafers we encounter. Rarely, two methods were used as in Figure 25 where wax was first applied and then a paper motto wafer. Similarly, on rare occasions, two different people applied wafers, usually when a letter needed to be forwarded (Fig. 26). There are a number of much scarcer (indeed some quite rare) special categories, special interest groups and then, finally, the group of commercial ones. Special categories include portraits (Fig. 27); topographical (Fig. 28); ethnographic (Fig. 29) or humorous (Fig. 30); military (Fig. 31) and medical (Fig. 32).

Fig. 24: The monogram “H” seal this folded letter; note two different colours of the seal, implying its packet contained more than one colour. Fig. 25: The sender, originally using wax, added a sentiment motto, a rare conjunction.

Fig. 26: Here, one wafer was applied by the sender. The letter was forwarded with a second seal applied by the forwarder. This is the only such I have seen.

Fig. 28: Topographical wafers are most often of British places. Here are two different designs for Westminster Bridge (one isinglass, the other hand-coloured paper [rare]). The oval paper images are known both pre-printed on the envelope flap and as wafers to be applied, as here.

Fig. 29: Two of six hand-coloured seals depicting the polka. Fig. 30: Another set of oval wafers depicted amusing scenes at the beach, here “The Crab’s Revenge.”

Fig. 27: Queen Victoria wafer on ornate hand-delivered ladies’ envelope by Rock, c. 1840.

Fig. 31: “1698/No Surrender” refers to British support of the Iroquois during the French and Indian wars, used 1842, Dublin to Waterford, Ireland. Fig. 32: The Sydenham Society, founded c. 1840 to honor the father of English medicine, published medical texts; simulated wax wafer, 1844.


Fig. 33: “Religious doctrine taught by Swedenborg/Blessedness dwells in the tranquility of peace.” (1844) Fig. 34: Many educated men could read Hebrew: “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart.” (1844) I have seen no Hebrew wafers used to or from Jews. Fig. 35: This is the only recorded anti-slavery wafer, dated 1852, well after emancipation in England. I have seen none from the U.S. but they must exist. Fig. 36: An anti-war wafer, quoting the Duke of Wellington. Fig. 37: A rare 1841 Temperance wafer, London to Leeds.

Special interest groups used wafers extensively: religious (Fig. 33 & 34), social (Fig. 35-37) and political (Fig. 38-45). Figures 42 to 45 trace the anti-Graham campaign. There are, no doubt, other categories to be defined. As noted above, commercial wafers appeared almost immediately; the earliest I’ve seen is July 1842 promoting Isaac Pitman’s new Phonography method (Fig. 46). Such Pitman wafers are highly sought after, particularly those with the marginal information: [printed by] Bagster, London. Each has a message written in Pitman’s shorthand. They are quite difficult to translate nowadays since the writing method has changed over the years. The best translation I have received for the one shown is “Teaching will learn [in the sense of educate?]. To date, we have found only two printers who identified themselves on their wafers: John Gadsby (see Fig. 39) and Bagster, above. Other printers/sellers are known from the envelopes and boxes they were sold in, but no others, that I know of, have their names on the label itself. 66


Fig. 38 back & front: The Anti-Corn Laws League sought repeal of 1815 laws protecting wealthy farmers from lowered prices after the Napoleonic Wars to the detriment of the small farmer. They used both wax and non-wax seals. This is addressed to George Wilson, Director of the League.

Fig. 39: John Gadsby of Manchester produced a number of wafers for the League. This 1841 cover has 10, the most recorded on a single cover. Fig. 40: A wafer describing some of the politics around the Anti-Corn movement.


Fig. 41: The Anti-Corn movement was closely allied with the Free Trade movement. This 2d Mulready, with a Free Trade round wafer, was sent by Scottish Radical M.P. Joseph Hume, 1843. Three round Anti-Corn wafers are also known.

Fig. 42: Sir James Graham, Home Secretary, authorised opening of suspected seditious mail in 1844. Fig. 43: His main target was the Italian opposition leader, Giuseppe Mazzini, residing in London. Fig. 44: There was a major public outcry at this invasion of privacy. Punch magazine produced a set of se-tenant anti-Graham wafers in various colours. Fig. 45: One of the results of this event was the development of the riveted security envelope used, in one form or another, to this day.



Wafers promoting products were used not only as letter seals but also as a purely advertising medium. Often, these labels had little more than a return address and a simple statement of the sender’s vocation (Fig. 47-50). Gradually, they increased in size to be replaced by poster stamps in the latter part of the century. Figure 51 shows a very early example (1858) of this kind of large label. I am often asked about the scarcity of these wafers. I have suggested a pecking order in the last paragraph. As an entire group, wafers are not uncommon; I would say they might be found on one in every couple of hundred British letters between 1840 and 1870. But if you are looking for a particular phrase or image, they become much harder to find and when you get to a specific special interest or commercial type, they are rarely known in quantities more than 10, usually many fewer and, often, unique. Champness and Trapnell’s book includes such a “rating” for each wafer they list. The use of private wafers ended for the most part in the 1880’s, persisting primarily as an advertising medium or patriotic statement. But sealing of certain types of mail persisted, in particular accountable mail and official mail. These have been well studied.

Fig. 46: The earliest advertising wafer I’ve seen: July 1, 1842 for Pitman phonography. Fig. 50: A large label promoting travel from Edinburgh “To all Places in the United Kingdom.” On a local hand-carried envelope, c.1840. Fig. 51: This 1858 large wafer for Dr. Godfrey’s Lozenges presages the development of the poster stamp several decades later.

Fig. 47: 1847 “WB Agent for WN/[image of gun]/maker/ to H.R.H. Prince Albert”. Fig. 48: 1866 Fortnum & Mason, London to Bordeaux, franked with pair of 1858 2d, plate 9. Fig. 49: A simple typographical wafer for a bookseller in Dublin, 1875 to New York.





Bolzano, Italy

The aim of this study is to describe the development of the exchange of letter mail between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily) from the time of the Congress of Vienna to the introduction of the postage stamps in Austria (June 1, 1850).


Brief historical note about the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies After the Napoleonic Occupation and the regency of Gioacchino Murat (1808-1815) the Bourbons returned to the power in October 1815 and King Ferdinand IV came back to the Court in Naples. In 1816 according to the Congress of Vienna the two Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were unified due to the law of November 22, 1816 and declared as the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Ferdinand became the new Sovereign and took the name of King Ferdinand I of Two Sicilies. The Kingdom consisted of the provinces “this side of the Lighthouse of Messina”, with its capital of Naples and the today regions of Abruzzi, Molise, Puglia, Campania and Calabria and the provinces “beyond the Lighthouse of Messina”, in other words the Island of Sicily with its capital Palermo. The official capital of this Union was Palermo, but the real centre of economic and political power was Naples, in those times one of the most important European cities, the merchant navy was one of the dominant powers in the Mediterranean Sea. The conservative politics of King Ferdinand were not welcome by nobility, merchants and intellectual citizens, therefore soon anti-bourbon reactions came out in Sicily.

In 1820 bigger insurrections in Naples and Palermo were to register and Austrian troops were sent to help King Ferdinand; they remained until 1827 in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. After the death of King Ferdinand I, his son King Francis (Francesco) I succeeded and continued the work of his father. But he was not long in power, his son Ferdinand II in 1830 was nominated the new King of the Two Sicilies and started political modernisation. He reformed the public administration and renewed economic development and industrial innovation. The first railway in Italy was constructed in 1839 in Naples to reach the city of Portici and also the first gas lighting system in a city was introduced in Naples. The revolution of 1848 reached also the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the King had to grant a constitution. Ferdinand decided to send own troops to fight against Austria in Lombardy. After the short insurrections in Sicily and the end of the revolutionary agitation, the conservative politics was again reinstated and the Bourbons ruled with decisiveness and authority. Their dominion ended only in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi with the “Expedition of the Thousand”.

B. Marzolla, Kingdom of Two Sicilies 1841 (Real Litografia Militare).




Postal relations

The currency in Naples was the Ducato napoletano, divided into 100 grana, 1 grano were 2 tornesi. The coinage included the cavalli (1 ducato = 1200 cavalli), the carlini (1 ducato = 10 carlini) and the tarì (1 ducato = 5 tarì). In the Kingdom of Sicily there was the onza of 30 tarì siciliani or 600 grana siciliani. Up to January 1st, 1821 the grano siciliano was half the value of the grano napoletano. With the currency reform of 1821 all Sicilian currencies were abolished, but we still can find rate notations in old currency on letters. The conversion to the Austrian currency was: 1 grano napoletano = 3,67 centesimi di Lira austriaca (Lombardy Venetia) 1 grano napoletano = 1,36 Kreuzer Conventionsmünze (Austria) In relation to the Papal States the situation was: 1 grano = 0,79 bajocchi.

Cultural and economic relations between Austria and the two countries in Southern Italy were not very strong, which can also be seen in the letter mail. In particular the exchange of correspondence between Austria and destinations beyond the capitals of Naples or Palermo is very scarce, and letters to Sicily much rarer than to Naples. In Naples there was a very active Austrian Consulate, in Otranto there was a Vice-Consulate due to the important maritime mail connection with the Ionian Islands up to 1840. The most frequent postal connection transited the Papal States, and with the beginning of the activity of the Austrian Lloyd in 1836 it was also possible to send letters directly from Trieste to Brindisi. The shipping of mail via Livorno (Leghorn) or Genoa was not yet a regular possibility at that time, as the postal treaty between Sicily and France was not signed until the 1850s. The situation for Lombardy-Venetia is slightly different. Postal relations between Milan and Venice on the one hand and Naples on the other hand were solid and frequent in that period. But this cannot be easily confirmed for Sicily, since letters from or to Sicily from Lombardy-Venetia are still difficult to find.

Weight progression The ounce in Naples was of 24 denari or 26,73 grams. The ounce in Sicily was more or less identical, 24 denari or 26,45 grams.




Rates Letters from Austria had to be prepaid to the border of the Papal States, normally Austrian letters with the shortest distance to the border (Trieste or Trento) had to transit the (Austrian ruled) Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia to the Papal border (Ferrara or Bologna) and therefore they had to be considered as the greatest distance for Austria. IN EFFECT





> 12 Postal Stations

14 Kr



8,75 g


> 10 miles

12 Kr


> 20 miles



> 30 miles

There were two important rates: up to 1842 14 Kreuzer, from then 12 Kr. Letters to Austria had to pay an extra transit fee of 6 Kr from 1819 and 4 Kr from 1827, but it was charged only when the letter was carried via Bologna, not in the cases where the mail went via Ferrara.

The situation for Lombardy, which had a direct border with the Papal States, was a little different. The Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia decided new rates (in centesimi di lira italiana) for foreign mail on June 1st 1817 (in effect from July 1st 1819), the weight for a single letter was defined 8 grams. From November 1st 1823 the letters were rated in Kreuzer or soldi (5 cent = 1 Kr/s), the single letter weight was now set at 8,75 grams. DISTANCE



1-3 Postal Stations

10 cent

2 Kr

3-6 Postal Stations

40 cent

8 Kr

6-9 Postal Stations

50 cent

10 Kr

9-12 Postal Stations

60 cent

12 Kr

> 12 Postal Stations

70 cent

14 Kr

Beginning only on August 1st 1842 the old system of distances depending on postal stations was abolished and the system of mileage distances was introduced. The rate for letters in the same district was set at 2 Kr (and later 3 Kr, which was important in the case of ship mail from Trieste), up to 10 miles at 6 Kr and more than 10 miles at 12 Kr. From March 1st 1843 the mileage was changed and the 10 miles distance was replaced with a 20 miles distance. Five years later, from June 1st 1848 the Austrian Postal Administration introduced a new system: up to 10 miles 3 Kr, from 10 to 20 miles 6 Kr, beyond 20 miles 12 Kr. 75

Only a year later (April 1st 1849) for new economic reasons the Post extended the 20 miles to 30 miles, without changing the rates. The Papal Postal Authority signed postal treaties with Vienna (1815 and 1823) and also with Naples (1816) concerning transit mail. Only in very few cases the Papal States showed evidence of their transit fees on letters (eg. for registered mail), normally there is no trace of a Papal Transit Fee on the letters. The amount prepaid by the sender in Naples or Sicily included the Roman transit fee, and also in the other direction, on arrival in Naples or Palermo the final rate to pay by the addressee included the Papal fee. In the Postal Treaty Austria-Papal States from 1815 (treaty of October 7th, 1815, in effect from October 1st, 1815) it was agreed that the Papal States would pay Austria 80 bajocchi per ounce (30 g) letters. For a single letter this was a transit fee of 20 baj. For letters from Lombardy-Venetia the Papal States hat to pay 26 baj per ounce, and therefore the single fee per letter was 6 ½ baj. In the treaty of 1823 it was established in article 6 that Austria would deliver letters addressed to Naples and Sicily free of charge. For letters from Naples and Sicily to the Papal States a fee of 20 baj was granted for 1 ounce letters (5 baj for a single letter). The Postal Treaty between the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from 1816 (October 10, 1816, in effect from October 19, 1816) provided a new regulation in article 7: for letters from Austria, Naples had to pay the amount that the Papal Postal Administration had agreed with the Court of Vienna. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies defined the following rate beginning from January 1st 1816 for letters to Austria and Lombardy-Venetia: DESTINATION















In April 1820 the rates for incoming mail from Austria to Naples changed and remained valid until 1850: DESTINATION















The rates for letters from Lombardy-Venetia were the following:


















Decree establishing new Neapolitan rates in 1845

The Neapolitan Postal Administration (ruling also for the Sicilian Post) set new rates according to the new Papal rates that had came into force after the so-called “Tosti Decree” of 1844. Letters to Austria were to prepay: • from Naples: 7, 10, 15, 30 grana • from Palermo/Messina: 14, 20, 30, 60 grana • from other cities in Naples and Sicily: different rates having distances from 50 to 150 miles, divided into more rate groups, and more than 150 miles. Unfortunately, the archival situation does not allow it be precisely said when the following rates to Austria came into force, but it was probably also from 1845: single letter (1 sheet) 21 grana, 1 ½ sheets 29 grana, 2 sheets 45 grana, 1 ounce 95 grana (printed matters for each sheet 2 grana).


Routes The Papal States carried letters to Austria and Lombardy-Venetia via Bologna or Ferrara, and the packets were brought from there either to Mantua in the direction of Milan (west) or Verona (north), or if directed to east via Padua, Venice and Trieste. In the other direction the mail was carried in closed packets via Florence or via Fano to Rome and then via Terracina (Papal exchange post office to Naples) and Fondi (Neapolitan exchange office) to Naples. All the packets of letters to and from Sicily were opened in Naples, then carried to Messina. Austrian Letters carried directly from Naples to Sicily by commercial vessel or postal ship are the great exception, as an additional ship letter fee was to be paid.

The harbour of Naples (1845)

Mail carried by the Austrian Lloyd There is little to say about Austrian Mail carried by ships of the Austrian Lloyd from Trieste or Venice to the Kingdom of Naples (Molfetta or Brindisi) after 1837, because this service was very seldom used up to 1850, and only a few letters are known. For those letters the additional ship letter fee for the Austrian Lloyd was defined as 9 Kr from Trieste.



Transit Markings Letters from or to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies bear transit markings according the Austro-Papal Postal Convention: the Austrian R, V and P/ Stato Pontificio of Rovigo, Venice and Padua (the marking R/Stato Pontificio of Rovigo was used only for border mail), and the Papal Stati Ereditari Austriaci, Antiche Provincie Austriache, R° L° Veneto. There were no particular transit markings for the mail to or from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Fig. 16: April 15, 1819 Venice to Palermo, 8

Transit Markings of the Papal Post in Ferrara and Bologna Transit Markings of the Austrian Post in Rovigo, Padua and Venice


Examples of Letter Mail Lombardy-Venetia to Naples

September 28, 1821 Venice to Naples, prepaid 8 decimi di Lira italiana to the Papal border, in Naples charged 18 grana.

November 27, 1831 printed matter from Venice to Otranto, free of charge as official mail in Venetia („D’“, N. 7160), directed to the Austrian Vice-Consulate in Otranto, that time an important harbour town in Puglia (the ships carried the letters to Corfu), disinfected against cholera in Ferrara (Ferrara/Netta Fuori/Sporca dentro). Naples charged 15 grana for a single letter.

Naples to Lombardy-Venetia



October 30, 1843 Padua to Naples, 6 Kr prepaid to the border, 15 grana in Naples.

September 11, 1836 registered letter from Venice to Naples, 38 Kr prepaid to the border (20 Kr 2nd weight 2x10 Kr + 6 kr registration fee + 12 Kr credit to Papal States). As a registered letter the mail bag was opened in Rome (and disinfected against cholera) and the Papal fee of 8 bajocchi (10 grana) was noted. Naples charged 40 grana, 10 (Papal debit) + 2x15 (2nd weight).

December 12, 1829 Naples to Milan, 10 grana prepaid to the Papal border, in Milan charged 16 Kr (10 Kr + 6 Kr transit fee). December 12, 1839 Naples to Padua, 10 grana prepaid to the Austrian border, 8 Kr (3-6 Postal stations) charged in Venetia. August 23, 1828 Castellamare di Stabia to Rovigo, with the scarce R/Stato Pontificio transit marking. 10 grana prepaid in Naples to the Austrian border, in Lombardy charged 2 Kr (rate for a single letter within 3 Postal stations, Tariff of 1823).


Lombardy-Venetia to Sicily

November 21, 1844 Milan to Palermo, 6 Kr prepaid to the border, 15 grana for Naples, in addition 5 grana to Palermo, the total fee to collect from the addressee was 20 grana.

April 15, 1819 Venice to Palermo, 8 decimi di Lira (2nd weight) prepaid to the Papal border, 28 grana charged for Naples (3 tarĂŹ 12 grana), the Sicilian fee was 16 grana, a total of 4 tarĂŹ 8 grana (old Sicilian currency) was charged at arrival.

Sicily to Lombardy-Venetia

November 30, 1826 Palermo to Bozzolo, 15 grana prepaid in Sicily, of which 10 grana to Naples, in Lombardy charged 6+8=14 Kr (6 Kr transit fee + 8 Kr distance fee for 3-6 Postal stations) (collection L. Carra).



Austria to Naples Left: February 26, 1819 Vienna to Naples. Prepaid 14 Kreuzer (greatest Austrian distance to Papal border), on arrival charged 20 grana. September 9, 1822 Nagy Mihaly (Hungary) to Naples, via Vienna and Verona, carried by Austrian Courier trough Papal States to the Field Post Office in Naples. Only the Austrian domestic rate of 14 Kr CM (greatest distance) was paid.

Above: March 19, 1847 Trieste to Rotonda. Prepaid 12 Kreuzer to the Papal border, confirmed by the marking FRANCO, on arrival charged 23 grana (21 grana to Naples + 2 additional to Rotonda). The transit marking Antiche/provincie aust. [riache] shows the provenance from Venice and was struck in Ferrara. Left: January 3, 1826 Trieste to Naples. Prepaid 14 Kreuzer to the Papal border, on arrival 29 grana were charged for a letter of 2nd weight (1 ½ sheets).


September 22, 1840 registered letter from Vienna to Naples, 18 Kreuzer prepaid to the Papal border (Franco) 14 Kr letter fee + 4 Kr registration fee. Transit marking Antiche/provincie aust. [riache] from Ferrara. In Naples charged 40 grana (1 ½ sheets, 15+5=20 grana, doubled for registered mail).

September 13, 1836 registered letter from Vienna to Naples, 18 Kr prepaid from the sender, 14 Kr letter fee + 4 Kr registration fee. On the back the Roman disinfection cachet NETTO FUORI / E SPORCA DENTRO was struck. In Naples charged 30 grana, 15 grana, doubled for registration. The large black notation “3” is probably a registration notice in Naples. June 25, 1841 registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt from Graz to Naples, prepaid to Papal border 32 Kreuzer: 2 x 14 = 28 Kr (2nd weight, longest distance) + 4 Kr registration fee. Naples charged 60 grana (2 sheets weight = 2x15=30 grana, doubled a registered letter = 60), was to be paid by the State, as the letter was addressed to the HRM King of Two Sicilies.



Naples to Austria

April 7, 1820 Naples to Janowitz (Moravia), via Rome, Bologna, Vienna, Olmßtz. Prepaid 15 grana to the Austrian border, charged 20 Kr on arrival, of which 14 Kr (> 12 Postal stations) + 6 Kr transit fee. May 20, 1834 Naples to Trieste. 30 grana prepaid to the Austrian border (2 ½ sheets weight), charged in Austria 42 Kr CM (3 x 14 Kr, > 12 Postal stations, a letter of ca. 25 grams weight). The transit marking V / Stato Pontificio was from Venice. October 2, 1832 Naples to Steyr, via Rome, Ferrara, Venice, Trieste. Prepaid to Austrian border 15 grana, charged in Austria 14 Kreuzer (>12 Postal stations), without a transit fee. Letters to Austria from the Kingdom of Two Sicilies were charged a transit fee only if going via Bologna, if carried via Ferrara no additional fee was asked (from May 1st, 1827). Letter from Naples to Steyr, 1846. Prepaid to Austrian border first 15, then 7 grana. The fee collected in Steyr was 16 Kr CM (12 + 4 via Bologna), then 12 Kr (via Ferrara) and again 16 Kr.


August 3, 1846 Catanzaro to Trieste, 10 grana prepaid to the Austrian border (3 grana more as outside Naples), in Trieste charged 12 Kr (>20 miles distance). November 21, 1824 Naples to Vienna, not prepaid as official mail (ex offo) and carried by the Austrian Military Courier via Rome, Bologna, Venice, Trieste, Lubjana. On arrival charged 30 Kr CM for a double letter 2 x 14 = 28 Kr (> 12 Postal stations) + 2 Kr local fee for City post in Vienna. The Austrian Field Post Office in Naples was active from 1821 to 1827. July 1828, a scarce postal form for outgoing and incoming letters at the Austrian Military Post Office in Naples. For 40 letters a charge of 133 Kreuzer had to be paid.



Austria to Sicily

September 18, 1840 Trieste to Palermo. Prepaid to the border 14 Kr confirmed by the marking Franco, 29 grana charged in Naples for letters of 1 ½ sheets, in Sicily additional 11 grana was asked for a total fee of 40 grana.

January 13, 1843 Strass to Palermo. Prepaid 12 Kreuzer according to the Austrian Tariff of 1842 (> 20 miles). In Naples at first incorrectly charged 29 grana for 1 ½ sheets, and corrected (oval handstamp Corretta) to 39 grana (should have been 38 grana, but probably conversion from bajocchi was different), plus 5 grana to Sicily made a total charge of 44 grana.

December 12, 1845 Trieste to Palermo, prepaid 12 Kr CM to the border, confirmed by the marking FRANCO 2. Naples charged 21 grana, in addition for Naples to Palermo 7 grana was to be pay, making a total fee of 28 grana on arrival.


Sicily to Austria

July 21, 1834 Palermo to Vienna, via Naples, Rome, Ferrara, Venice. Carried privately to Naples where the letter was handed to the Post Office and prepaid 15 grana to the Austrian border. Transit marking V/ Stato Pontificio from Venice. The addressee had to pay the fee for the longest Austrian distance of 14 Kr CM.

November 23, 1843 Messina to Trieste, via Naples, Rome, Bologna and Venice (V/Stato Pontificio). Prepaid 30 grana (1 ½ sheets), of which 20 grana to Naples. On arrival 18 Kr CM (> 20 miles, 12 Kr + ½ for weight = 6 = 16) was charged.

May 21, 1844 Messina to St. Ulrich in Gröden, South Tyrol, via Naples, Rome, Bologna, Bozen, Klausen. Prepaid to border 20 grana, of which 15 gr to Naples. On arrival charged 16 Kr CM = 12 Kr (> 20 miles) + 4 Kr Transit fee.

Maritime Mail

August 18, 1851 Trieste to Bari, via Venice, Ancona and Molfetta, carried by a ship of the Austrian Lloyd, in Trieste prepaid 12 Kr, of which 3 Kr local district fee and 9 Kr for ship carriage through the Lloyd. Naples charged the letter 10 grana. Letters from or to Austria to Naples carried by the Lloyd before 1850 are very scarce.

January 19, 1848 Naples to Corfu, Ionian Islands, carried by a ship of the Austrian Lloyd from Brindisi (“Col pacchetto Austriaco”). This is a truly scarce cover outgoing from Naples in the period before 1850. It was prepaid in Naples 12 grana to Brindisi, and than 5d for the Austrian Lloyd and 3d Ionian domestic fee was charged in Corfu, making a total of 8d.

Essential Bibliography Carra, Lorenzo: “I rapporti postali del Regno Lombardo Veneto con il Regno delle Due Sicilie 1815-1866.” In: Vaccari Magazine, n. 50/2013 (p. 27-33), 51/2014 (p. 25-34), n. 52/2014 (p. 31-42). Fardella de Quernfort, Vincenzo: Storia postale del Regno di Sicilia dalle origini all’introduzione del francobollo (1130-1858). 3 volumes. Palermo, Edizioni Zefiro, 1999. Kaufmann, Heribert: “Teil-Übernahme des Postvertrages Bayern-Italien durch Austria ab 1815.” In: Postgeschichte, n. 24/2003, p. 23-39. Mancini, Vito: Tariffe postali nel Mezzogiorno d’Italia dal Viceregno alla riforma del 1862. Prato, Istituto di studi storici postali, 2003. Mathà, Thomas: “Die Briefpost zwischen Austria und dem Königreich Beider Sicily 1815-1850.” In: Die Briefmarke, n. 4/2017, p. 10-15. Mathà, Thomas: International Mail Crossing the Italian Peninsula 1815-1852. 2nd Edition, Milan, CIFO, 2018. Münchener Briefmarken-Club e.V.: Postbeziehungen Bayern-Austria. Schriftenreihe des Münchener Briefmarken-Club, Heft 4. Munich, 2010. Vollmeier, Paolo: “Lombardo-Veneto: Einige Erläuterungen über Transitstempel.“ In: Rundbrief des Deutschen Altbriefsammler-Vereins, Heft 24, 1972 (39 p.). Vollmeier, Paolo: Catalogo dei bolli postali del territorio Lombardo-Veneto dalle origini all’introduzione del francobollo. Milan, Sirotti Editore, 1979. Vollmeier, Paolo: The postal history of Sicily. Turin, Giulio Bolaffi Editore, 1998. Vollmeier, Paolo and Mancini, Vito: Storia postale del Regno di Napoli dalle origini all’introduzione del francobollo. 3 volumes. Castagnola, Paolo Vollmeier Editore, 1996.


LA BOLGETTA MAIL BAG Giorgio Migliavacca

Tortola, British Virgin Island

La parola ‘pesante’ (The ‘heavy’ word)

by Francesco Giuliani, Foggia, March 2018, in Italian, perfect bound, 306 pages of which 27 have coloured illustrations, 5½” x 6¾”, €20 + shipping; available at the publishers’ website Edizioni del Rosone, A frequently mentioned centenarian adage reminds us that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In 90 percent of the instances this idiom is compelling, but there are exceptions, especially when we try to adopt it for a miniature format such as postage stamps. Indeed, for obvious reasons, stamps leave a rather limited space for words. In fact even a single word on a stamp may have a weight and an impact that range from minimalist caption to heavy, the latter is intended as significant and considerably effective. This volume starts with an in-depth preface by the renowned linguist Rosario Coluccia, member of the prestigious Accademia della Crusca. After a review of the stamp issues of the years before the 1861 unification of Italy we learn a lot about the use of the word ‘francobollo’ (postage stamp) on the early stamps of the mid-1800s. Even the most informed specialist may well admit: “I did not know that!” The author chronologically introduces almost all of the Italian stamp issues, from those of the Italian States to our days; in doing so, he goes to the point and examines the usefulness of the words embedded in the design, their role, weight and impact. At the same time the role of the design and the creativity of the stamp designer are thoroughly scrutinised. The quality and effectiveness of the finished product might have been affected by the interference or input of emperors. monarchs, politicians, prime ministers. 90


ministers of the posts and bureaucrats, including: Franz Joseph of Austria, Count Cavour, Quintino Sella, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Mussolini, to name a few. This aspect of the story is very difficult to substantiate and it is better left to some time-consuming investigations of other philatelic detectives. Giuliani prefers to move into more thought-provoking directions. Given the unavoidable ‘romanitas’ (Roman-ness) that surfaces on the wordings of the stamps from 1911 to date, Giuliani fittingly points out that the use of Latin succeeded in freezing out the vast majority of the philatelic and general public. Even the use of Roman numeral dates is deemed pedestrian and stodgy. There are other snobbish aspects; for example, the 40 cents stamp of the 1921 set celebrating Dante, in an effort to impress the public and honour the great poet resorted to this quote, “MOSTRÒ CIÒ CHE PO / TEA LA LINGUA NOSTRA” (He showed what our language could do). Apart from the ugly hyphenation of “PO / TEA” (co - uld) the quote from “Purgatory” may register with an élite, but it is unpalatable to the masses. Two years later new stamps saluted the first anniversary of the March on Rome and replaced the wording ‘Poste Italiane’ with ‘ITALIA’ - as unexpected as this new wording was, it was short-lived like the one swallow that does not make a summer. In 1929, when the boastfully labeled ‘Imperiale’ definitive series, duly seasoned with ‘romanitas’ and Latin

privileged historical figures like Caesar while the soon-to-be new emperor found himself with an Italian inscription “VITTORIO/EMANUELE III/RE”, while the two values portraying him frontally do not even bother to say who he is. Oh well, no big deal, the stamps depicting the Capitoline She-wolf and those featuring the somewhat too macho allegory of Italy wearing a turreted crown (Italia turrita) dispensed with any caption whatsoever. Furthermore the supplementary 2 cents issued in 1930 has no inscription describing the nation’s newest coat of arms; the acronym “FERT” is part of the coat of arms and refers to the motto of the royal house of Savoy-Sardinia and Italy: Foedere et Religione Tenemur (Latin: «We are bound by treaty and by religion»). The situation improved in 1930 when the famous painter, scenographer and sculptor Corrado Mezzana made his debut on the philatelic stage with the series commemorating the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Virgil masterfully executed by the great artist but unfortunately overburdened with Latin quotes. As Giuliani points out: “who does not know the language of our forefathers is lost”. The other philatelic celebrations of the 1930s saluting two thousandth anniversaries follow the same pattern. In 1908 the first foreign language peeked out on an Italian stamp, the French “EXPRÈS” in flaming red on a

specific stamp for express mail sent to a foreign destination; the use of French was a pre-requisite dictated by the U.P.U.; as a result we find the inscription “UNIONE POSTALE/UNIVERSALE”, also in red, above “EXPRÈS”.During the twenty years of the fascist regime, Mussolini himself manipulated the philatelic medium using Mezzana’s talent: a very well pondered choice of the inscriptions echoing the slogans and vivid rhetoric of the Duce: “CREDERE” (believe), “SE AVANZO SEGUITEMI!...” (if I advance follow me!) made their impact using stamps. Such propaganda was disseminated all over Italy and her colonies where, however, it is very difficult to imagine the lower class peeling their eyes to read the mottos and inscriptions that adorned the national and colonial stamps. As pointed out by Giuliani, the inscriptions, quotes and wordings on stamps have repeatedly been compromised, especially by the hyphenation attempts. The author states that the best inscriptions are those that clearly indicate the issuing country, the face value, and a telegraphic mode wording about the reason for issuing the stamp and/or about the vignette. Furthermore, there must be harmony between the image and the word; therefore, while fulfilling its postal purpose, ideally, the stamp must make emotional eye contact in order to generate dreams, fuel imagination and open new cultural horizons. Occasionally, stamps have been described as ambassadors of their issuing countries; this facet cannot be underestimated because there are many foreigners who look closely at stamps on covers from other countries. In this respect the stamp becomes a block of a mosaic consisting of other impressions and perceptions that will form an overall opinion about a given country. Indeed, there are countries that have capitalized on the communicational potential of stamps, both at national and global levels. Freedom, family and justice are the fundamental values depicted on the “Democratica” definitive series which made its debut in 1945 when the country was still in the midst of a monarchy versus republic dilemma.

The wording “REPUBBLICA ITALIANA” first appeared some seven years later, in 1952, on a stamp commemorating opera composer Vincenzo Bellini; in a series of variations it survived until 1955, when “POSTE ITALIANE” made its come back. The “Siracusana” definitive series depicting Italy with a turreted crown continued undauntedly with “REPUBBLICA ITALIANA”. The two 1954 stamps paying tribute to Marco Polo feature inscriptions in Italian, Latin and Chinese. The uncaptioned “Siracusana” had massive use between 1953 and 1961; during the early months of the latter the “Michelangiolesca” definitive took centre stage. Armed with good intentions, the new series focusing on Michelangelo’s masterpieces offered a very tiny space to them, smaller than half a passport photo. Can you imagine what a pass card photo for Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or Botticelli’s Venus would look like? Giuliani is also passionless when it comes to the lack of captions which would help to place these treasures in their perspective; the average stamp user would, somehow, figure out that the this definitive is about Michelangelo, Adam and Eve and some stunningly portrayed figures: hurrah! In 1979 the symbol of the antique Italian currency was omitted from the stamp designs, possibly to create room for the higher tariffs caused by inflation; twenty years later, as a prelude to the dawning of the European currency, Italian stamps featured two currencies: the lira and its equivalent in euros; then, from 1 January 2002 the traditional and historic currency stepped down passing her sceptre to the Euro whose precursor - the ECU - alongside the Lira at an exchange rate of 1 ECU = 500 Lire was featured on a stamp saluting the third general elections of the European Parliament. ECU is the acronym for European Currency Unit, an accountancy currency introduced by the European Union in 1979. At the twilight of the old millennium we could observe some oddities, including “PIANERE” instead of ‘paniere’ (bread basket); the new millennium started with an increasing use of foreign languages,

among which English shines. In 2017 we visited the bloopers garden where errors that could possibly not fit that category pop up on stamps; it is the case of “BACALÀ” used as a caption to describe in vernacular style the famous gourmet dish of Vicenza. Oddly enough it would seem that the fish used for the speciality is not “BACCALÀ” (Italian spelling) or salted cod but “STOCCAFISSO”, dried cod. The stamp design instead of whetting our appetite does not help at all as it contributes to the argument since two unmistakeable “stoccafissi” are featured on the side of the casserole. At the end of the first part of this book, the author confirms that “the word found on stamps has proved to be weighty and meaningful, quite like a voice asking to be listened to because it has a lot to say.” Part Two, aptly titled Inside the stamps mine takes up to 103 pages where Giuliani zooms on literary themes that have links with Italian stamps. May be his next book can expand on these aspects. Chapter Two focuses on printed books starting with the pioneer years of Aldo Manuzio: “the printed book, after all, is like a stamp, child of its time and therefore a resource that calls for safeguarding... simply because it is a huge treasure chest filled with culture and humanity,” says Giuliani. The ensuing chapters feature a fabulous Giacomo Leopardi, both in poetry and on stamps; Umberto Eco in the philatelic wonderland, the forgotten anniversaries ranging from Dante and Calvino to the foreign languages, Virgil, winding up with a linguistic controversy of 1879 about the hobby’s name (Francobollomania or Timbrofilia). The book ends with a very useful index of names and a general index which remind us that the books we read from cover to cover in a few days are not many, and this volume on The ’heavy’ word fits into that petite ‘these few, these happy few’ club. Giuliani’s book is truly remarkable and will surely be welcome on many philatelic bookshelves because it highlights a firmly grounded cultural depth of philately: a treasure trove bypassed by many other scholars.


Le Carte Sparse - Corrispondenze

garibaldine di Ippolito Nievo, approfondimenti di storia postale siciliana 1859-1861

(Scattered papers - Garibaldi-related 1859-1861 correspondence from/ to Ippolito Nievo, widening Sicilian postal history perspectives) by Alberto Barcella and Pietro Amorelli; preface by Giulio Perricone, in Italian, 112 A4 pages, many colour illustrations, perfect bound, 2018, Vaccari Publisher; €25 + shipping; available from the publisher (via Buonarroti 46, 41058 Vignola, MO),

To read a new article about Sicily’s postal history during the Risorgimento years is rather uncommon, but to hold in your hands a new book on the same subject is something for heads up, especially when letters from/to the famous Italian writer and patriot Ippolito Nievo are the central part of the research. Nievo had a prominent role in the Expedition of the Thousand, but most unfortunately he died in 1861 at 30 years of age when his Naples-bound steamship sank. Leafing through this new book it is quite saddening to see covers and letters mutilated as a result of an alltoo-often irresponsible and clumsy removal of postage stamps; since the late 1800s this barbarity has affected many documents and letters held by museums, libraries and public archives - a most familiar example I have personally encountered is that of the Cairoli Brothers correspondence. The authors of this book have been able to track down the vast majority of Nievo’s correspondence through the kind cooperation of the Civic Library of Udine and through the generous collaboration of postal history scholars. For the first time the hair-raising ordeals suffered by some of the letters that were stolen are finally exposed; in fact, some of these historic letters reemerged in due course at stamp auctions and on internet platforms. From the early pages of this monograph we learn about the active 92


role the insurgent islanders played in sabotaging the Sicilian communication system, including postal and telegraphic services; shortly after, the revolutionary committees began to organize their own communications network by recruiting hundreds of couriers. By the end of May, emboldened by the success of Garibaldi’s expedition, we see the victors’ early signs of the reactivation of Sicily’s traditional postal service. Nevertheless, Barcella observes that this reactivation “does not imply that from a given date all the correspondence was routed through the traditional postal service”. Barcella and Amorelli spend chapter II to examine “the scattered papers” of Nievo’s correspondence from 5 May until the tragic death of the illustrious patriot. These “scattered papers” include both those belonging to published epistolaries and those held by public archives. This book is certainly the first one examining in great detail the postal history aspects of the Nievo correspondence. At the end of June 1860 the Marseillesbased Fraissinet shipping company established a weekly service from Palermo to Livorno and Genoa; this facilitated the conveyance of mail from Sicily to the rest of the peninsula. The third chapter is penned by Amorelli and deals with the postal service and the 1860 Sicilian revolution; among other things, the author delves into some

interesting “political” use of the postal iconography. The authors have taken great care in choosing illustrations that tell the story and prove very useful for the narration of fascinating stories. Once again, this monograph is evidence of how much we all gain when two scholars merge their experience and knowledge. Collectors of Sicilian and Risorgimento postal history will agree that this volume is absolutely indispensible.

Associazione dei collezionisti Italiani di Francobolli Ordinari Italian Collectors of Definitive Stamps Society




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