Country: Italy
Il Nuovo Gaggero - Catalogo dei bolli tondo-riquadrati del Regno d’Italia 2016 [The New Gaggero - Catalogue of the Squared-Circle Date Stamps of the Kingdom of Italy, 2016] edited by Daniele Prudenzano, published 2016 by Vaccari, perfect bound, 6 ½” x 9 ½”, 296 pages, in Italian, black and white illustrations; with evaluations. After the unification of Italy in 1861 the postal administration had to reform and harmonise the postal service of the old regimes with that of the new nation, the Kingdom of Italy. It was not an easy task and one of the major administrative efforts was to have uniformity also on the way mail was processed and postmarked. The first step was to introduce numeral postmarks to cancel stamps together with circle date stamps that gave the name of the post office and date. This double postmarking was not a major problem for small post offices, but it surely was for those of major cities and in due course it became obvious that something had to be done. The post office started to concentrate on the design of a new postmark and the job was given to a truly talented engraver by the name of Lodovico Josz who gave serious consideration to the design of the British “squared-circle” postmark. On 31 December 1889 a directive was issued to discontinue the use of the numeral obliterators. By the end of 1889 Josz was given the ‘go ahead’ and from that moment he began to produce squared-circle date stamps for a grand-total of 230. To speed up the process the post office sourced other engravers, and between 1890 and 1920 over 8000 squared-circle date stamps were produced to satisfy the demand. These squared-circles were also used by colonial post offices and post offices abroad such as: Massaua (Eritrea), Bengasi (Libya), Tunisi, Salonicco, Smirne, Tripoli di Barberia, Mogadiscio, Durazzo (Albania), Gerusalemme, and La Canea (Crete) to name a few. The first scholar to pay attention to these specific postmarks was Giuseppe Gaggero who wrote the first monograph on the subject. In 2002 Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi edited the first edition of a vastly expanded catalogue listing about 7000 different squared-circles; the 2016 edition edited by Daniele Prudenzano includes an additional 1243 squared circles bringing the grand-total to 8204. The postmarks are listed by region and its provinces giving the earliest and latest known date of use as well as an indication of a realistic market value. An alphabetical index with the names of the post offices using the squared-circle postmark, and the provinces they belonged to, makes it very easy to go to the relevant page of the catalogue. A very extensive bibliography completes this well produced and highly informative catalogue. Reviewed by Giorgio Migliavacca
Item Id #: 014597