Vatican and Argentina Issue Joint Postage Stamps Honoring Pope Francis (UPDATED)

You philatelists out there might be able to tell me whether this is as unusual as it seems:  I have never in my life heard of two nations collaborating on the printing of postage stamps.

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.

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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.”

Philatelist Alert: Vatican Issues Stamps for the Interregnum

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.