Postage Stamps of Italian Colonies

by Tony Clayton

Aegean Islands

Eritrea <<-- : -->> Castelrosso

Main Index

Autonomous Administration Issue, 1912

Italy occupied the Dodecanese Islands in April 1912 after the Italo-Turkish War. Before the official issues of the Italian Government, a 'Commissione del popolo' on the island of Calino decided to issues postage stamps for use on all the islands. In the event the stamps were only used on philatelic covers with favour cancels. The following are examples of the three denominations with various cancels.

1 lepta

Autonomous Administration, 1 lepta green, Turquie D'Asie datestamp
Sassone 1.

5 lepta

Autonomous Administration, 5 lepta blue in block of 4, Turquie D'Asie datestamp
Sassone 2.

10 lepta

Autonomous Administration, 10 lepta red, Austrian Post Office datestamp
Sassone 3.

10 lepta

Autonomous Administration, 10 lepta red, local Greek datestamp
Sassone 3.

1912 Issue (Rhodes Overprint)

After the occupation of the Dodecanese Islands by Italy in 1912 stamps were issued for 13 of the islands by overprinting with the name of the island. The original set was issued on 1st December 1912 for each of the 13 islands had seven values from 2 centesimi up to 50 centesimi. For most of the islands the 15 centesimi value is most difficult to find in mint condition, although the 5 centesimi of Cos is the scarcest of all.

15c Rodi

Rhodes 15c
Sassone 4.

Rodi set

The rest of the set.
Sassone 1-3 and 5-7.

Leros 20c issue

In June 1917 a new value was introduced, using the initial type of the 20c Michetti design without watermark. This stamp is perforated 13¼ instead of that of the main issue in Italy which had a perforation of 13¼x13¾ (the perf 13¼ stamp unoverprinted can be found, but is a little scarce).

In about 1921 this was replaced by a similar stamp, this time with a crown watermark and perforation 14. There is a further aid to telling which is which. The perforations on the first of these two issues are clean and sharp, while on the second they appear tattier. It seems that not only is the gauge larger, but so are the perforation holes.

No watermark

Leros 20c without watermark
Sassone 9.


Leros 20c with watermark
Sassone 11.

Piscopi Variety

An unusual variety that is difficult to find is the 40c of Lipso, Nisiro, Piscopi and Stampalia with the top of the design missing (mancante in Italian). That of Stampalia is only known used, I believe. It is uncertain as to how this came about on only part of the printing. The variety is not known unoverprinted.


Piscopi 40c with top of design missing
Sassone 6a.

Offset Overprint

A not uncommon variety is an offset overprint ('decalco' in Italian). This results in a reversed image on the back.


Rhodes 25c with offset overprint
Sassone 5g.

21st Hydrological Conference, 1930

In 1929 a new set of Pictorial stamps was issued for Rhodes. The following year this set was overprinted to celebrate the 21st Hydrological Congress. All stamps from this overprinted set are scarce with high catalogue value.

5 lire

5 lire lilac rose
Sassone 19.
Image courtesy of the Italy & Colonies Study Circle.

Wing Airmail Stamp

In 1934 a new Air Mail design was issued for general use amongst the Aegean Islands. It was originally issued with upright watermark, but later printings appeared with a sideways watermark. Of these one has Perf 14½ and the last Perf 14.

For some reason, while used copies of the 5c with sideways watermark are very common, mint examples of the third printing are extremely rare, and one found in an old collection amongst a number with upright watermark is illustrated.

sideways wmk

Aegean 5c Air Mail, sideways watermark, perf 14,
mounted mint condition, very rare

Sassone A30/I.

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v11 15th April 2015
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