That’s what happened today, though. A four-stamp collector’s set of stamps, each featuring a photographic image of Pope Francis, has been issued jointly by the Vatican City State and Argentina. The set marks the beginning of the new pope’s pontificate, and includes four different stamps with the values of €0.70 (for mail to Italy); €0.85 (for Europe); €2.00 (for mailing to Africa, Asia, the Americas); and €2.50 (for Oceania). Only 250,000 sets will be printed.
In addition to the stamp series shown here, the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office (for stamps and coins) will also release a stamp and coin card, as well as an official collector’s edition folder, designed to hold the four stamps and a postcard featuring the first page of L’Osservatore Romano’s March 13, 2013 edition. That special edition newspaper was published on the day of the pope’s election.
* * * *If you’re a stamp collector, you might also be interested in the stamps released during the interregnum, that brief period after Pope Benedict’s resignation, but before a new pope was elected, when the Chair of Peter was vacant. I wrote about that series here. (Unfortunately, no new interregnum stamps are being sold; but eBay seemed to be doing a brisk business hawking the collectors’ stamps, last I looked.
UPDATE: Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, director of video projects for St. Anthony Messenger Press, knows a bit about stamps and sent this explanation:
“In answer to your query, yes, the US and other countries have done joint issues of stamps, especially US-Canada, and others. My recollection is each country sells the basically same stamp, with perhaps the language or denomination changed.”