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Italian States Stamps


The "Marzocco" or "Lion of Tuscany"
A replica of the original by the Florentine sculptor Donatello c. 1418
Located in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence

The first Italian states stamps of Tuscany appeared during 1851, and they featured a design based on famous symbols of Tuscany and of its capitol, Florence.

The Marzocco, also known as the Lion of Tuscany, was the heraldic symbol of the Florentine Republic and, later, of the Duchy and Grand Duchy of Tuscany.  Legend states that the Florentine Republic originally chose the lion over any other animal, as it was able to tear apart an eagle, the standard heraldic symbol of imperial power.

The crowned Lion of Tuscany, used by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for the design of its first postage stamps, is meant to symbolize the "sovereign independence of Tuscany"

The lion holds a shield with what appears to be a Fleur-de-Lis ("Lily Flower").  The Italian name for this symbol is Giglio di Firenze ("Lily of Florence"), but it is NOT ACTUALLY A LILY.  This flower is a stylized Florentine Iris, which grows around the city and has been used as the symbol of Florence since the 11th Century.

Tuscany stamps were printed in sheets of 240 impressions, which were divided into three panes of 80 impressions.

The nine definitive Italian States stamps of Tuscany shown above were issued between 1851 and 1852.  These stamps are typographed on bluish (early printings) to grayish paper (later printings) that is watermarked crowns and separator lines across the sheet, and they are imperforate.

These stamps are denominated in Quattrini, Soldi, and Crazie, all being fractions of the Tuscan Lira (60 Q. = 20 S. = 12 C. = 1 Tuscan Lira).  The 1 Quattrini stamp was issued for newspapers, and the 60 Crazie stamp was issued for international mail.

The Scott catalog attributes are as follows.

  • 01 Q.  (1851 - Sc. #1) - Black on Bluish, Black on Grayish.
  • 01 S.  (1851 - Sc. #2) - Ocher on Grayish, Orange on Grayish, Yellow on Bluish, Yellow Bister on Bluish, Golden Yellow on Bluish, Bister Orange on Grayish.
  • 02 S.  (1851 - Sc. #3) - Scarlet on Bluish.
  • 01 C.  (1851 - Sc. #4) - Carmine on Bluish, Brown Carmine on Bluish, Lake Red on Bluish.
  • 02 C.  (1851 - Sc. #5) - Blue on Bluish, Greenish Blue on Bluish.
  • 04 C.  (1851 - Sc. #6) - Green on Bluish, Blue Green on Bluish.
  • 06 C.  (1851 - Sc. #7) - Slate Blue on Bluish, Blue on Bluish, Indigo on Bluish.
  • 09 C.  (1851 - Sc. #8) - Gray Lilac on Bluish, Deep Violet on Bluish.
  • 60 C.  (1852 - Sc. #9) - Red on Bluish.

The seven definitive Italian States stamps of Tuscany shown above were issued between 1857 and 1859.  These stamps are typographed on white paper that is watermarked vertical interlaced wavy lines, and they are imperforate.

The Scott catalog attributes are as follows.

  • 01 Q.  (1857 - Sc. #10) - Black.
  • 01 S.  (1857 - Sc. #11) - Yellow.
  • 01 C.  (1857 - Sc. #12) - Carmine.
  • 02 C.  (1857 - Sc. #13) - Blue, Greenish Blue, Yellowish Gray Green.
  • 04 C.  (1857 - Sc. #14) - Green, Yellow Green.
  • 06 C.  (1857 - Sc. #15) - Deep Blue.
  • 09 C.  (1859 - Sc. #16) - Gray Lilac.

The 4 Cr. denomination exists with an inverted value tablet at the bottom.  Only one used example is known.  The image from the 1998 Sassone specialized catalog is shown above (Scott #14a, Sassone #14b).

In 1928, Fernand Serrane (1880–1932) wrote that there were about 100 different forgeries of the first sixteen Italian States stamps of Tuscany.  In order to simplify the identification of the authentic Italian States stamps of Tuscany, Serrane suggests authentication by the process-of-elimination and offers the illustration shown above.  The illustration shown above, from the Serrane Guide, features the attributes of the original Tuscany Lion stamps!

The basic properties of the original stamps are as follows.

  • The cross is under the left terminal line of the "T".
  • There are three jewels in the band of the crown.
  • ALL of the lion's paws have FOUR TOES.
  • Some pearls should show, though all of them are only evident in well struck impressions.

Serrane suggests the following procedural steps, for use in the elimination of forgeries.

  • Examine the watermark first.  More than half the forgeries do not have any watermark.
  • Check the center design with the graphic shown aboveCheck the inscriptions against a common original reference example.
  • Check that the paper is really hand-made, furrowed on the back, suitably tinted, and of proper thickness.
  • Compare, if possible, the impression and paper shades against original reference examples.
  • Verify that the stamp is indeed typographed and not lithographed.

Serrane then offers the following examples of the obvious characteristics of many of the forgeries.

  • All forgeries are lithographed.
  • Irregular size of the impression.
  • Missing watermark or irregular watermark.
  • Paper too thin.
  • Paper un-tinted, often yellowish, sometimes vertically or horizontally laid.
  • The lion's face resembles that of a monkey or a man.
  • The eye, nostril, and cheek lines are irregular or missing.
  • One of more of the lion's paws have only two or three toes.
  • Lines and dots in the shield are irregular.
  • The line above the value tablet is too thick.
  • The lower frame line is NOT broken.
  • The crown is tipped.
  • The jewels are missing, or there are four or five jewels in the band of the crown.
  • Irregular lettering.
  • There are dividing lines in the top frame line.

The seven definitive Italian States stamps of the Provisional Government of Tuscany shown above were issued in 1860.  These provisional government stamps are typographed on white paper that is watermarked vertical interlaced wavy lines, and they are imperforate.

The common design features the Coat of Arms of the House of Savoy (Kingdom of Sardinia).  The stamps are denominated in Centesimi and Lire.

The Scott catalog attributes are as follows.

  • 01 C.  (1860 - Sc. #17) - Brown Lilac, Gray Lilac, Red Lilac.
  • 05 C.  (1860 - Sc. #18) - Green, Olive Green, Yellow Green.
  • 10 C.  (1860 - Sc. #19) - Deep Brown, Gray Brown, Purple Brown.
  • 20 C.  (1860 - Sc. #20) - Blue, Deep Blue, Gray Blue.
  • 40 C.  (1860 - Sc. #21) - Rose, Carmine.
  • 80 C.  (1860 - Sc. #22) - Pale Red Brown, Brown Orange.
  • 03 L.  (1860 - Sc. #23) - Ocher.

There are, of course, forgeries of these provisional Italian States stamps of Tuscany, as well.  The Serrane Guide offers the following notes on the attributes of the original stamps.

  • The stamps are 18 1/2 x 23 mm in size.
  • The lettering, corner ornaments, and lower frame line breaks are the same as those of the Tuscany Lion issues.
  • There is a dot after the value abbreviation.
  • The shield has five vertical shade lines in each quarter.
  • None of the shade lines are joined to their neighbors.
  • The vertical beam of the cross is under the "T", a little to the left of the letter's axis.
  • There are five jewels in the band of the crown.
  • On the 1 - 20 C. denomination stamps, the value inscription almost touches the lower frame line.
  • The word "FRANCOBOLLO" is printed as ONE word, not TWO.
  • The paper is grayish white, not yellowish.

The Italian States stamps of Tuscany were replaced by those of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1861.

Collecting the Italian States stamps of Tuscany can become a very expensive venture.  In the 2017 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue ....

  • The catalog prices of the Tuscany Lion stamps (off-cover) range from $180.00 to $120,000.00.  There is one higher, but it is not attainable.
  • The catalog prices of the Tuscany Provisional stamps (off-cover) range from $75.00 to $300,000.00.

Bearing this in mind, the collector should only buy stamps that are properly authenticated and / or certified.  If not, they should make sure the seller guarantees the stamp, should they decide to have it authenticated and then find out that it is a forgery.

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Italy Postage Stamps

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Return to Italian States Stamps
from Tuscany


Grand Duke Leopold II
c. 1828

Lived: 1797-1870
Reigned: 1824-1859

Grand Duke Ferdinand IV
c. 1860

Lived: 1835-1908
Reigned: 1859-1860

The last two Grand Dukes of Tuscany are shown above.

Grand Duke Leopold II, being related to the House of Hapsburg, had allied Tuscany with the Austrian Empire, in the Austro-Sardinian War against the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom Sardinia. 

During the Second Italian War of Independence (Austro-Sardinian War), in 1859, the forces of the Kingdom of Sardinia captured Tuscany.

The Grand Duke fled the country at the beginning of the conflict, leaving the nation in the charge of republican revolutionaries who then established a provisional government. 

After the conclusion of the war, Leopold II returned and abdicated, in favor of his son, Ferdinand, who then became Grand Duke Ferdinand IV.  Afterwards, Leopold was deposed, and he and his family moved to Bologna, then in the Papal States.  He died in Rome in 1870.

The reign of Grand Duke Ferdinand IV was very brief.  While still living in Austria, he was deposed by the Tuscan National Assembly on August 16, 1859.  On March 22, 1860, a national referendum was held, and 95% of the electorate voted for union with the Kingdom of Sardinia.  Ferdinand spent the remainder of his life in Austria, where he died in 1908.

The 2 S. denomination newspaper tax stamp shown above was issued in 1894.  It is typographed on unwatermarked pelure paper, and it is imperforate.

These stamps were used to pay the fiscal tax on newspapers coming from foreign countries.  They were not postmarked, when they were used.

Forgeries of these newspaper tax stamps do exist.