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rotating stamp images Stamps of Vatican City
 Produced by:
 The Smithsonian National Postal Museum
 The Vatican Philatelic Society
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The Vatican City Collection
 

In the heart of the Italian peninsula, nestled within the city of Rome, lies the world's smallest nation. Vatican City, less than one half the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC, became politically independent from Italy under the Lateran Pacts of February 11, 1929. Two days later, the Vatican post office began operating with donated supplies and equipment. It issued its first stamps on August 1, 1929.

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the birth of the Vatican City nation and its post office, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has digitized its complete collection of 1,496 Vatican stamps from 1929 to 2008.

The Vatican Philatelic Society, based in the United States, is the only organization in the world devoted exclusively to the collection and study of the stamps, covers, and postal history of the Vatican City State. The Society cooperated with the National Postal Museum in putting these Vatican stamps online by allowing the NPM to republish information from the fifty-year run of their journal, Vatican Notes.


 
circle stamp image   Vatican City
Vatican City became politically independent from Italy under the Lateran Pacts of February 11, 1929. Two days later, the Vatican post office began operating with donated supplies and equipment. It issued its first stamps on August 1, 1929.
circle   stamp image Pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939)
Today's Vatican City State is the last remaining vestige of the Stato Pontificio, a vast territory ruled by the pope that once straddled the Italian peninsula.

  • Commemoratives
  • Definitives
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of Pius XII (1939-1958)
Pius XII's pontificate was the most troubled of the twentieth century, spanning as it did the Second World War, the rebuilding of Europe, and the early years of the Cold War.
  • Commemoratives
  • Definitives
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of John XXIII (1958-1963)
Blessed Pope John XXIII was intended to be a placeholder pope-a compromise candidate acceptable to both the conservative and liberal factions in the College of Cardinals because he would not 'rock the boat.'

  • Commemoratives
  • Definitives
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of Paul VI (1963-1978)
Vatican City postage stamps changed dramatically during Paul VI's reign. The subjects commemorated became more internationalist in nature as opposed to focusing exclusively on church history and art.

  • Commemoratives
  • Definitives
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of John Paul I (1978)
Nineteen seventy-eight is remembered as the “Year of Three Popes.” Paul VI died on August 6, and the College of Cardinals elected 65-year-old Albino Cardinal Luciani, the Patriarch of Venice, as pope. Luciani chose the regnal name John Paul. His papacy, however, was one of the shortest in history.
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of John Paul II (1978-2005)
Taking his predecessor's name, John Paul II was the youngest pope in more than a century and the first non-Italian since 1523.

  • 1978–1991 Commemoratives
  • 1978–1991 Definitives
  • 1992–2005 Commemoratives
  • 1992–2005 Definitives
circle   stamp image   Pontificate of Benedict XVI (2005-2013)
Elected on April 19, 2005, in a papal conclave and celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on April 24 2005, Pope Benedict XVI succeeds Pope John Paul II.

  • Commemoratives
         
 
Related Resource for Educators:
• Critical Thinking Skills Through the Vatican City Stamps
Created by Tabitha Jacques
 
 
  The National Postal Museum would like to thank the many volunteers and staff members who worked on this collection. Specifically, NPM Web Team members MJ Meredith, Christine Mereand, and Alex Haimann (database management and imaging), and Bill Lommel (website design and publication); Daniel Piazza, NPM Curator and author of Vatican City narratives; and Elizabeth Schorr, NPM Collections Manager. Additionally, a special thanks to Kellie Keating, NPM Intern, for imaging the collection and editing object descriptions; volunteers Ron Fett and Whitney Morell for many hours spent transcribing and editing object descriptions; and Terry Sheahan, editorial consultant.  
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