“Prove, Saggi e Ristampe della II e III emissione del Regno di Sardegna" - [Proofs, Essays and Reprints of the Second and Third Issues of the Kingdom of Sardinia] by Paolo Cardillo, 144 pages (6.5" x 9.5"), colour illustrations throughout, including 16 colour plates, in Italian with English translation, sewn quality soft cover - published [2013] **************** The stamps of the Kingdom of Sardinia had four distinctive issues that epitomize the great creative skills of their engraver and printer — Francesco Matraire. The postal reform, introduced in late 1850, envisaged postage stamps. The Kingdom's ambassador in Paris contacted engravers and printers in the French capital, but due to their high prices and the impending deadline for the introduction of stamps it was decided to give the job to the less expensive Turin-based Matraire. The first issue (1 January 1851), depicting King Victor Emmanuel II facing right, was executed entirely in lithography. The head of the monarch was modeled after the one on the gold 20 Lire coin, commonly known as Marengo, engraved by a man who later, as we shall see, collaborated with Matraire. In late September, early October 1853 the second issue was distributed to post offices. The new three-value set had the same denominations (5c, 20c, and 40c) of the first issue, however, this time they were printed by colorless embossing on colored paper. The design of the embossing includes an ornate frame inscribed vertically FRANCO and BOLLO, at left and right respectively. Horizontally, at the frame top, the tablet shows the face value expressed in figures and POSTE in the middle (ie: C. POSTE 5), while at the bottom the face value is expressed in words, C. CINQUE. The frame is a device leaving an oval inner frame to highlight the embossed head of the monarch. Unfortunately, the embossing and the pallid color of the paper required a lambent light rather than the poor lighting from the post office candles and oil lamps in order to ensure that the right stamp or stamps had been affixed to the letter. In less than six months, by mid-April 1854, a redesigned issue was printed and distributed to the post offices. Good quality, white paper was utilized, the embossing printing remained the same but the colored frame was executed in lithography using somewhat brighter colors. The fourth issue of the Kingdom of Sardinia is very popular with collectors because the endless pressure on Matraire's staff resulted in several printings of virtually all denominations which in turn forced the pressman to use inks that did not quite match the required nuance. As would be expected, for the second, third and fourth issues there are proofs, essays, authorised reprints executed in 1863 by the enterprising Matraire, not to mention later reprints carried out in Florence in 1877 by argonauts. Imitations, so to speak, of some denominations of the fourth issue were printed in Berlin in 1889-90, followed by more blatant forgeries in the ensuing years. To complicate things, between 1900 and 1910, the new owners of Matraire's business sold his archives which included large quantities of printer's waste of the fourth issue as well as unfinished sheets without the embossed head. Such material was like a gargantuan banquet invitation for forgers who created double embossings, inverted heads, double heads, one inverted, you name it, they did it. All of this material, the good, the bad and the ugly, created uncertainty and prejudice and, to this day, Italian experts routinely receive the post Matraire creations from the four corners of the globe for verification. In very few cases genuine Matraire items surface. The footnotes in the standard catalogues give scanty or no details on how to detect the original Matraire proofs, essays and reprints. Now, comes this new book by Professor Paolo Cardillo to fill many gaps. A truly enthusiastic scholar, Cardillo was fortunate enough to acquire important files from the Matraire archive which had been retrieved by Emilio Diena in the early 1900s. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is true. Apart from important documents and notes, proofs, essays and related items were found in these files. These certainly helped, but the Author of this book went the extra mile and consulted with all the major Italian experts, specialists and dealers. In the process, he accumulated a wealth of information that he decided to share in book form. The focus of this book is on proofs and essays of the second and third issues and related items such as color trials and embossing tests; additionally a chapter is devoted to Matraire's reprints. All of these items are duly catalogued in a scientific manner and carefully evaluated. Plates have been added to show the differences between essays, proofs, and issued stamps; the same is the case for paper color, thickness, and type as well as for the differences between sharp and worn-out impressions of the embossed head and frame. The book is illustrated by no less than 160 high definition, enlarged photographs. Cardillo presents the subject matter in terse language; the succession of chapters is sensible; and finally, the catalogue and plates are a true joy both for the beginner and the specialist. There is a good English translation of the entire book, the binding is excellent as is the layout. If you collect Italian States, this book belongs to your bookshelf. Reviewed by Giorgio Migliavacca - copyright
Item Id #: 014701