THE MOST VALUABLE SINGLE STAMP OF PAPAL STATES
1858, 20 b. yellow, unissued, uncancelled without gum, good to very large margins displaying on three sides the dividing lines between stamps, refulgent color. Two complete sheets of 100 are recorded, of which one is in the Vatican Postal Museum, and only about ten single examples are known, this being probably the finest. One of the rarest and most valuable stamps of all Italian territories. The example presented here has the additional attribute of having been chosen to illustrate this issue in the Sassone catalogue.
Provenance: Discovered by Enzo Diena and Renato Mondolfo, acquired later by Alberto Bolaffi.
Note: The Postal administration of the Papal States, intending to improve the postal service, proposed on March 12th, 1858, the issue of a 20 bajocchi stamp which corresponded to the postal tariff for franking letters to France, valid since April, 1853. For still unknown reasons the stamp produced was never issued, although a certain quantity was cancelled and later destroyed.
Expertise: Enzo Diena (1990) and Raffaele Diena (1993, described then in the certificate, when only this example was known in private hands, as the most important rarity of all Italian philately), signed A. Bolaffi.
Exhibitions: Claridge’s (1997), Monaco ’97.
Illustrated and Listed: Encyclopaedia of Rare and Famous Stamps.