Postage Stamps of Italian Colonies

by Tony Clayton


Libya <<-- : -->> Tripolitania

Main Index

In 1923 the Italian Colony of Libya was split into two provinces, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, under two separate Governors. This arrangement ceased in 1934 when the two provinces and the Military area of Fezzan where once again merged into the Colony of Libya.

While Tripolitania and Cyrenaica issued separate commemorative and airmail stamps, definitive, parcel, postage due and express issues continued to be in the name of Libya.

1923 Propaganda Fide Issue

In 1923 the first set of the separate province of Cyrenaica was the overprinted Propaganda Fide issue. One stamp of each of the 20c and 30c values in position 17 has a notable retouch behind the head of Jesus. The 50c and 1 lire stamps do not show this flaw. 25,000 sets were issued.


The normal 30c
Sassone 2.


30c with retouch
Sassone 2a.

1923 March on Rome Issue

The March on Rome issue used the Italian set in the same colours suitably overprinted. 30c and 50c used the same design as the 10c shown, and the 2 lire used the same design as the 1 lira. 30,000 sets were issued.


10c green
Sassone 5.


1 lira blue
Sassone 8.

5 lire

The top value, 5 lire blue and black
Sassone 10.

1924 Manzoni Issue

In 1924 a set was issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Death of Manzoni.

In all its variants the top value, the 5 lire, is a very difficult stamp to find. As only 3750 were ever issued for each of the four colonies Eritrea, Somalia, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, one can understand why. Only 7500 of the 1 lire were issued.


50c orange and black
Sassone 14.

1 lire

1 lire blue and black
Sassone 15.

1925 Holy Year Issue

The six stamps issued by Italy were overprinted CIRENAICA in a curve matching the frame of the design. 30,000 sets were issued.

5 lire

5 lire + 2.50 lire
Sassone 22.

1925 Silver Jubilee Issue

The 60c and 1 lira were issued in November 1925; because of the airmail rate change the 1.25 lire was issued eight months later in 1926. Two different perforations are known for the 1.25 lire: perf 13½ is rare. The 60c and 1 lira are only known with perf 11.

As with all issues of this set, while normally without watermark the 60c and 1 lira are known with letters from the sheet edge and, even more rarely, two stamps on these sheets have a sideways crown.

1.25 lire

1.25 lire perf 11
Sassone 25.

1926 St.Francis Issue

For the first time one of the values of this set (5+2.50 lire) was printed in a different colour to that issued for Italy. Two overprint styles were used. 25,000 sets were issued.


60c carmine
Sassone 29.

5 + 2.50 lire

5 + 2.50 lire olive
Sassone 31.

1926 Colonial Institute Issue

In common with those issued for other colonies, this is a very common set of 6 values. 200,000 sets were issued.


40 + 5c carmine
Sassone 35.

1927-30 National Defence (Milizia) Issues

In 1927, 1929 and 1930 there were three successive issues of what are known as the Milizia sets. The Colonies had some of the stamps printed in different colours to those of Italy before being overprinted. In all cases the third set is the most scarce, the top value scarcest, and properly used stamps from the colonies are much harder to find than mint.

Proofs are known of the second series with the large overprint used for the first series.


Cyrenaica 1927 First Milizia issue, 60 + 30 centesimi
25,000 issued
Sassone 39.


Cyrenaica 1929 Second Milizia issue, 5 + 2 lire
20,000 issued
Sassone 52.

1927 Volta Issue

All three issued values were printed in colours that differed from the Italian equivalent. The 50c is known with the stop after the value. 36,000 sets were issued.


50c orange
Rare variety with inverted overprint Eritrea above
Sassone 43d.

1928 Italian African Society Issue

25,000 sets of 4 values were issued.


1.25 lire + 20c blue
Sassone 48.

1929 Montecassino Issue

13,000 sets of 7 values were issued. Once again colours differ from those issued in Italy.


10 + 2 lire brown
Sassone 59.

1930 Prince Umberto Wedding Issue

50,000 sets of 3 values were issued.


20c green
Sassone 60.

1930 Ferrucci Issue

20,000 sets of 5 values were issued. Unlike Tripolitania, no air mail issues were made.


50c black
Sassone 65.

1930 Agricultural Institute Issue

A Postage set was issued almost a year late in November 1930. Again no Air Mail set was issued.

20,000 sets.


5 + 1 Lire
Sassone 76.

1930 Virgil Issue

20,000 sets of 9 postage values were issued on 4th December 1930. The top two values were printed in recess.


5 + 1.50 Lire violet
Sassone 84.

1931 St.Anthony Issue

20,000 sets of 7 values were issued on 7th May 1931.


75c grey
Sassone 90.


1.25l blue
Sassone 91.

1932 Definitive Air Mail Issue

In January 1932 3 values of the Tripolitania Air Mail definitives were overprinted Cirenaica. The following May two of the values were reissued with a sans-serif overprint and bars obscuring the name Tripolitania. The 60c orange with the 2nd overprint was also prepared in 1943, but not issued. In August a third issue of 6 values in different designs and without the need for overprinting came out


80c violet brown, 1st issue
Sassone A3.


50c carmine, 2nd issue
Sassone A4.


75c violet red, 3rd issue
50c and 80c also in this design
Sassone A7.


5 lire carmine, 3rd issue
1l and 2l also in this design
Sassone A11.

1933 Zeppelin Air Mail Issue

20,000 sets of 6 values in three designs were issued on the 5th May 1933. All are scarce used, and rare on cover.


12 Lire
Sassone A15.


15 Lire
Sassone A16.


20 Lire
Sassone A17.

1933 Balbo Trans-Atlantic Flight Issue

20,000 sets of 2 values were issued on the 1st June 1933. All are scarce used, and very rare on flown cover.

19.75 Lire
Sassone A18.

44.75 Lire
Sassone A19.

1934 Rome to Buenos-Aires Flight Issue

40,000 sets of 4 airmail values were issued on 20th January 1934, using overprints on the 5 lire Air Mail definitive printed in new colours.

5 Lire bistre
Sassone A22.

1934 Naples Colonial Art Festival Issue

100,000 sets of 6 postage values and 6 airmail values were issued on 16th October 1934.
For some reason this very common set is valued more highly than some of the scarcer earlier sets.

1.25 Lire Postage
Sassone 98.


50c Air
Sassone A25.


2 Lire Air
Sassone A29.

1934 Rome to Mogadishu Flight Issue

10,000 sets of 10 airmail values were issued on 5th November 1934. The lower 6 values were issued in greater quantity.


3l + 25c voilet
Sassone A36.

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Stamps of Italian Colonies - Cyrenaica
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v2 24th April 2015
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