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Ultimo aggiornamento: 16/09/2019
Paolo Vaccari

Why the Comparative Plates of Sicilian Postage Stamps

Shortly after the General Direction of the Post of the Kingdom of Sardinia started selling, as collectibles, the remaining Bourbon stamps seized in the offices of the Island, the study of these magnificent rectangles of coloured paper began. Since then, they have been considered among the best made in the world.
As a matter of fact, a brief comparison with the other stamps available on the philatelic market at the beginning of the 1860's makes the artistic mastery of these Sicilian stamps immediately evident.

In 1863 the first studies of these stamps were published, and they were more and more specialized until Emilio Diena, the Great Master of the Italian philately, marked a milestone when he gave the fruit of his studies to the press in London in 1904. Since then, very little or almost nothing very innovative has been written about postage stamps. Some works, even recent ones, have only slightly dealt with the study of them, but they have brought to light some interesting findings on postal history and postmarks. Emilio Diena dedicated little time to these latter issues, not because he lacked knowledge, but rather because his research was only dedicated to "The History of Sicilian Postage Stamps".
The original edition, published in English in 1904, is practically untraceable. Both the later versions of the book are also difficult to find, the re-print in English, printed in 1969 by Giulio Bolaffi Editore and the Italian translated edition with notes added by Enzo Diena "Emilio Diena - Una vita per la Filatelia" (A Life Dedicated to Philately). The latter was published by the Post and Telecommunications Administration in 1989 on the occasion of the issuing of a stamp dedicated to the Great Master.

Now, in 2009, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Sicilian stamps, a new work, however following in the footsteps of Emilio Diena. Included in a slip-case are the work in colour with the comparative plates which are in all colour and have been analysed in detail in order to present their distinctive elements, and the complete and full size plates.
As one may notice this work is completely new in the layout and printing method implemented as we have not used the traditional four-colour screen or digital printing. This as a consequence of our belief that these two "archaic systems" would damage the fine detailed print of the plates and their portions, which are necessary to better compare them with the originals. We have chosen to use the stochastic printing system, which is also utilized in the reproduction of illuminated manuscripts and works that must be as close to the original as possible, especially in the fine details.
In our specific case, even the tiniest detail must be made visible in order to give the collector the chance to make a thorough comparison of the original stamp with the 100 on the complete sheet. The plates in the volume have been divided into blocks of 25 in order to identify each individual stamp more easily. The main characteristics of each stamp are noted so that one may pinpoint the placement of it and single out its variations caused by the wearing or different inking of the printing plate.
The retouched stamps have been reproduced in an enlarged and colour version with detailed descriptions so that the plating of the stamps on the sheets may be easily identified.

The images of the plates have come from various sources. Those of the grano first plate, first and second state, are the only complete ones in existence and have kindly been loaned by the Diena family of Rome, to whom our sincere thanks are due. The majority of the remaining images belong to our archive, among which some photographs have been donated by the late Bruno Barbacovi (Lavarone 1906 - Dimaro 1987). In addition to studying B.L.P. stamps of the Kingdom of Italy, Barbacovi also dedicated much of his time to building up the plates of Sicily. Others also come from the original sheets or are the result of the rearrangement of large blocks.

It has been said that philatelic collecting has evolved over the years and now tends to focus primarily on postal history. Philatelic collecting has indeed evolved, yet this has occurred much less radically than others may think. There are two different ways to collect and research stamps, yet both have their own undeniable value. However, in recent years there has been a marked return to the antique. This has involved the studying of stamps, among which those from Sicily prevail for their characteristics as they are so varied.

The main reason to publish this work is certainly not to revolutionize what Emilio Diena wrote more than one hundred years ago, but rather it is to offer collectors a simple and updated instrument to study in more detail the wonderful stamps of Sicily, whose undeniable beauty will live on forever.

ISBN: 978-88-96381-03-8
Cod. 2201EN
- EUR 140,00
Offerta speciale
EUR 98,00

in an elegant slip-case the comparative study and the 15 plates
128 pp. - fine art quality paper - format cm 24x31 - hardbound - printed 2009
series "Philatelic studies"
English text

2 edizioni - 2 editions