Stamp collectors will need to act quickly if they want to get their hands on these: The Vatican has just issued a set of four stamps for use during the “Sede Vacante” (when the See is Vacant), that period between the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of a new pope.
The interregnum stamps, according to Vatican sources, include the symbol of the Vacant See, a striped umbrella (umbraculum) over crossed keys. They can be used only until a new pope is elected in next month’s Conclave—meaning they will be in use for only a few weeks. For collectors, the most valuable of the short-lived stamps will be those which are postmarked on the first day. And the limited-time postmark itself is of special interest: It reads simply “Sede Vacante MMXIII”.
The Independent Catholic News has published a description of the limited-issue stamps:
The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City State has issued four stamps with the image of an angel raising the pavilion of the Apostolic Camera, the work of Italian artist Daniela Longo. The stamps cost: Euro 0.70 for mail to Italy, with a light green background; Euro 0.85 for mail to Europe, with a blue background; Euro 2.00 for mail to the Americas, with a grey background; and Euro 2.50 for mail to Oceana, on a yellow background.