The Papal States, officially the State of the Church (Stato della Chiesa in Italian or Status Ecclesiae in Latin), were territories in the Italian Peninsula under the sovereign direct rule of the pope, from the eighth century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy until the Italian Peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. At their zenith, they covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio (which includes Rome), Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy. The territories were also referred to variously as the State(s) of the Church, the Pontifical States, the Ecclesiastical States, or the Roman States (Stato Pontificio, also Stato della Chiesa, Stati della Chiesa, Stati Pontifici, and Stato Ecclesiastico in Italian, or Status Pontificius, also Dicio Pontificia in Latin). The Papal States issued their first postage stamps in 1852.
By 1861, much of the Papal States’ territory had been conquered by the Kingdom of Italy. Only Lazio, including Rome, remained under the Pope’s temporal control. In 1870, the pope lost Lazio and Rome and had no physical territory at all, not even the Vatican. Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini ended the crisis between unified Italy and the Holy See by signing the Lateran Treaty in 1929, thus granting the Vatican City State sovereignty.
For its first 300 years, the Catholic Church was persecuted and unrecognized, unable to hold or transfer property. Early congregations met in rooms set aside for that purpose in the homes of well-to-do individuals, and a number of early churches, known as titular churches and located on the outskirts of Ancient Rome, were held as property by individuals, rather than by the Church itself. Nonetheless, the properties held nominally or actually by individual members of the Roman churches would usually be considered as a common patrimony handed over successively to the legitimate ‘heir’ of that property, often its senior deacons, who were, in turn, assistants to the local bishop. This common patrimony attached to the churches at Rome, and thus under its ruling bishop, became quite considerable, including as it did not only houses etc in Rome or near by but landed estates, whole or in part, across Italy and beyond.
This system began to change during the reign of the emperor Constantine I, who made Christianity legal within the Roman Empire, and restoring to it any properties that had been confiscated (in the larger cities of the empire this would have been quite considerable, and the Roman patrimony not least among them). The Lateran Palace was the first significant new donation to the Church, most probably a gift from Constantine himself.
Other donations followed, primarily in mainland Italy but also in the provinces of the Roman Empire. But the Church held all of these lands as a private landowner, not as a sovereign entity. When in the fifth century the Italian peninsula passed under the control of Odoacer and, later, the Ostrogoths, the church organization in Italy, with the pope at its head, submitted to their sovereign authority while asserting their spiritual primacy over the whole Church.
The seeds of the Papal States as a sovereign political entity were planted in the sixth century. Beginning In 535, the Byzantine Empire, under emperor Justinian I, launched a reconquest of Italy that took decades and devastated Italy’s political and economic structures. Just as these wars wound down, the Lombards entered the peninsula from the north and conquered much of the countryside. By the seventh century, Byzantine authority was largely limited to a diagonal band running roughly from Ravenna, where the Emperor’s representative, or Exarch, was located, to Rome and south to Naples (the “Rome-Ravenna corridor”), plus coastal enclaves.
With effective Byzantine power weighted at the northeast end of this territory, the pope, as the largest landowner and most prestigious figure in Italy, began by default to take on much of the ruling authority that Byzantines were unable to project to the area around the city of Rome. While the popes remained Byzantine subjects, in practice the Duchy of Rome, an area roughly equivalent to modern-day Latium, became an independent state ruled by the pope.
The Church’s independence, combined with popular support for the papacy in Italy, enabled various popes to defy the will of the Byzantine emperor; Pope Gregory II even excommunicated Emperor Leo III during the Iconoclastic Controversy. Nevertheless, the pope and the exarch still worked together to control the rising power of the Lombards in Italy. As Byzantine power weakened, though, the papacy took an ever larger role in defending Rome from the Lombards, usually through diplomacy. In practice, the papal efforts served to focus Lombard aggrandizement on the exarch and Ravenna. A climactic moment in the founding of the Papal States was the agreement over boundaries embodied in the Lombard king Liutprand’s Donation of Sutri (728) to Pope Gregory II.
When the Exarchate of Ravenna finally fell to the Lombards in 751, the Duchy of Rome was completely cut off from the Byzantine Empire, of which it was theoretically still a part. The popes renewed earlier attempts to secure the support of the Franks. In 751, Pope Zachary had Pepin the Younger crowned king in place of the powerless Merovingian figurehead king Childeric III. Zachary’s successor, Pope Stephen II, later granted Pepin the title Patrician of the Romans. Pepin led a Frankish army into Italy in 754 and 756. Pepin defeated the Lombards — taking control of northern Italy — and made a gift (called the Donation of Pepin) of the properties formerly constituting the Exarchate of Ravenna to the pope.
In 781, Charlemagne codified the regions over which the pope would be temporal sovereign: the Duchy of Rome was key, but the territory was expanded to include Ravenna, the Duchy of the Pentapolis, parts of the Duchy of Benevento, Tuscany, Corsica, Lombardy and a number of Italian cities. The cooperation between the papacy and the Carolingian dynasty climaxed in 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor.
The precise nature of the relationship between the popes and emperors — and between the Papal States and the Empire — is disputed. It was unclear whether the Papal States were a separate realm with the pope as their sovereign ruler, merely a part of the Frankish Empire over which the popes had administrative control, as suggested in the late ninth century treatise Libellus de imperatoria potestate in urbe Roma, or whether the Holy Roman Emperors were vicars of the pope (as a sort of Archemperor) ruling Christendom, with the pope directly responsible only for the environs of Rome and spiritual duties.
Events in the ninth century postponed the conflict. The Holy Roman Empire in its Frankish form collapsed as it was subdivided among Charlemagne’s grandchildren. Imperial power in Italy waned and the papacy’s prestige declined. This led to a rise in the power of the local Roman nobility, and the control of the Papal States during the early 10th century by a powerful and corrupt aristocratic family, the Theophylacti. This period was later dubbed the Saeculum obscurum (“dark age”), and sometimes as the “rule by harlots”.
In practice, the popes were unable to exercise effective sovereignty over the extensive and mountainous territories of the Papal States, and the region preserved its old system of government, with many small countships and marquisates, each centered upon a fortified rocca.
Over several campaigns in the mid-tenth century, the German ruler Otto I conquered northern Italy; Pope John XII crowned him emperor (the first so crowned in more than forty years) and the two of them ratified the Diploma Ottonianum, by which the emperor became the guarantor of the independence of the Papal States. Yet over the next two centuries, popes and emperors squabbled over a variety of issues, and the German rulers routinely treated the Papal States as part of their realms on those occasions when they projected power into Italy. As the Gregorian Reform worked to free the administration of the church from imperial interference, the independence of the Papal States increased in importance. After the extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the German emperors rarely interfered in Italian affairs. In response to the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Treaty of Venice made official the independence of Papal States from the Holy Roman Empire in 1177. By 1300, the Papal States, along with the rest of the Italian principalities, were effectively independent.
From 1305 to 1378, the popes lived in the papal enclave of Avignon, surrounded by Provence and under the influence of the French kings. This period was known as the “Avignonese” or “Babylonian Captivity”. During this period the city of Avignon itself was added to the Papal States; it remained a papal possession for some 400 years even after the popes returned to Rome, until it was seized and incorporated into the French state during the French Revolution.
During this Avignon Papacy, local despots took advantage of the absence of the popes to establish themselves in nominally papal cities: the Pepoli in Bologna, the Ordelaffi in Forlì, the Manfredi in Faenza, the Malatesta in Rimini all gave nominal acknowledgement to their papal overlords and were declared vicars of the Church.
In Ferrara, the death of Azzo VIII d’Este without legitimate heirs in 1308 encouraged Pope Clement V to bring Ferrara under his direct rule: however, it was governed by his appointed vicar, Robert d’Anjou, King of Naples, for only nine years before the citizens recalled the Este from exile in 1317; interdiction and excommunications were in vain: in 1332, John XXII was obliged to name three Este brothers as his vicars in Ferrara.
In Rome itself, the Orsini and the Colonna struggled for supremacy, dividing the city’s rioni between them. The resulting aristocratic anarchy in the city provided the setting for the fantastic dreams of universal democracy of Cola di Rienzo, who was acclaimed Tribune of the People in 1347, and met a violent death in early October 1354 as he was assassinated by supporters of the Colonna family. To many, rather than an ancient Roman tribune reborn, he had become just another tyrant using the rhetoric of Roman renewal and rebirth to mask his grab for power.
The Rienzo episode engendered renewed attempts from the absentee papacy to reestablish order in the dissolving Papal States, resulting in the military progress of Cardinal Albornoz, who was appointed papal legate, and his condottieri heading a small mercenary army. Having received the support of the archbishop of Milan and Giovanni Visconti, he defeated Giovanni di Vico, lord of Viterbo, moving against Galeotto Malatesta of Rimini and the Ordelaffi of Forlì, the Montefeltro of Urbino and the da Polenta of Ravenna, and against the cities of Senigallia and Ancona. The last holdouts against full papal control were Giovanni Manfredi of Faenza and Francesco II Ordelaffi of Forlì. Albornoz, at the point of being recalled, in a meeting with all the Papal vicars on April 29, 1357, promulgated the Constitutiones Sanctæ Matris Ecclesiæ, which replaced the mosaic of local law and accumulated traditional ‘liberties’ with a uniform code of civil law. These Constitutiones Egidiane mark a watershed in the legal history of the Papal States; they remained in effect until 1816. Pope Urban V ventured a return to Italy in 1367 that proved premature; he returned to Avignon in 1370 just before his death.
During the Renaissance, the papal territory expanded greatly, notably under the popes Alexander VI and Julius II. The pope became one of Italy’s most important secular rulers as well as the head of the Church, signing treaties with other sovereigns and fighting wars. In practice, though, most of the Papal States was still only nominally controlled by the pope, and much of the territory was ruled by minor princes. Control was always contested; indeed it took until the 16th century for the pope to have any genuine control over all his territories.
Papal responsibilities were often (as in the early sixteenth century) in conflict. The Papal States were involved in at least three wars in the first two decades. Pope Julius II, the “Warrior Pope”, fought on their behalf.
The Reformation began in 1517. Before the Holy Roman Empire fought the Protestants, its soldiers (including many Protestants), sacked Rome as a side effect of battles over the Papal States. A generation later the armies of King Philip II of Spain defeated those of Pope Paul IV over the same issues.
This period saw a gradual revival of the pope’s temporal power in the Papal States. Throughout the 16th century virtually independent fiefs such as Rimini (a possession of the Malatesta family) were brought back under Papal control. In 1512 the state of the church annexed Parma and Piacenza, which in 1545 became an independent ducate under an illegitimate son of Pope Paul III. This process culminated in the reclaiming of the Duchy of Ferrara in 1598, and the Duchy of Urbino in 1631.
At its greatest extent, in the eighteenth century, the Papal States included most of Central Italy — Latium, Umbria, Marche and the Legations of Ravenna, Ferrara and Bologna extending north into the Romagna. It also included the small enclaves of Benevento and Pontecorvo in southern Italy and the larger Comtat Venaissin around Avignon in southern France.
The French Revolution proved as disastrous for the temporal territories of the Papacy as it was for the Roman Church in general. In 1791, the Comtat Venaissin and Avignon were annexed by France. Later, with the French invasion of Italy in 1796, the Legations (the Papal States’ northern territories) were seized and became part of the Cisalpine Republic.
Two years later, the Papal States as a whole were invaded by French forces, who declared a Roman Republic. Pope Pius VI fled to Siena, and died in exile in Valence (France) in 1799. The Papal States were restored in June 1800 and Pope Pius VII took up residency once again, but the French under Napoleon again invaded in 1808. On May 17, 1809, the remainder of the States of the Church were annexed to France, forming the départements of Tibre and Trasimène.
With the fall of the Napoleonic system in 1814, the Papal States were restored once more. From 1814 until the death of Pope Gregory XVI in 1846, the popes followed a reactionary policy in the Papal States. For instance, the city of Rome maintained the last Jewish ghetto in Western Europe. There were hopes that this would change when Pope Pius IX was elected to succeed Gregory and began to introduce liberal reforms.
Italian nationalism had been stoked during the Napoleonic period but dashed by the settlement of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which sought to restore the pre-Napoleonic conditions: most of northern Italy was under the rule of junior branches of the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, with the House of Savoy in Sardinia-Piedmont constituting the only independent Italian state. The Papal States in central Italy and the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the south were both restored. Popular opposition to the reconstituted and corrupt clerical government led to numerous revolts, which were suppressed by the intervention of the Austrian army.
The nationalist and liberal revolutions of 1848 affected much of Europe, and in February 1849, Italian nationalist ferment led to public disorder in Rome and the declaration of a Roman Republic under Mazzini and Garibaldi. The hitherto liberally-inclined Pope Pius IX was trapped in the Quirinal Palace by a mob of radicals and forced to flee south to Gaeta. The revolution was suppressed by French troops under Louis Napolèon Bonaparte in 1850 and Pius IX switched to a conservative line of government. It was a sign of the ultimate downfall of the old political system in Italy.
On November 21, 1851, Cardinal Secretary of State Giacomo Antonelli announced the introduction of bolli franchi (postage stamps) to be issued for the Papal States. Various regulations concerning rates and usage were published and the accepted design showed the chiavi decussate (crossed keys of St. Peter) surmounted by the triregno (triple tiara) which had for centuries been the official coat of arms of the popes,
Each value has a different border and bears the inscription FRANCO BOLLO POSTALE and the value in bajocchi (100 baj. to the scudo). The dies were engraved by Doublet and Decoppet & Company and the stereotypes derived by the foundry of P. Couppet & Company, both of Rome. The paper, made mostly by Cartiera Graziosi of Subiaco, was at first handmade. Later, smoother and heavier machine-made paper was employed. The values up to 8 bajocchi were typographed at the Vatican’s own print shop in sheets of 100 (divided into four panes of 25). The 50 bajocchi and 1 scudo were printed in sheets of 50 (10×5) without any division into panes. The ½, 1, 3, 4, and 8 bajocchi values, since they were designed with curved outer borders, were printed with straight separation lines between the stamps as an aid in cutting. The 1 bajoccho occurs in two compositions, one in which the cutting lines are continuous vertically and interrupted horizontally and a second with the opposite arrangement.
The denominations from ½ bajocchi to 7 bajocchi were issued on January 1, 1852, printed in black on colored paper. Three higher values were added later in the same year: the 50 bajocchi blue on white paper and the 1 scudo carmine rose on white paper issued July 12; and the 8 bajocchi black on white paper released on October 1. These are listed in the Scott catalogue under “Italian States: Roman States” prior to the listings for Italy (Scott #1-11). There are many varieties for this issue because the colored paper used was produced in small batches, resulting in a glorious range of color varieties. The various printings of the 1852 issue enjoyed the rather long usage of fifteen years. Still, fewer than 35,000,000 stamps of all values were printed. Three of these values — the 7 bajocchi, 50 bajocchi, and 1 scudo — were produced in quantities of fewer than one million each.
Many collectors shy away from the Papal States stamps due to the similarity of the designs and the numerous forgeries and reprints. Soon after their initial release, the authorities discovered various fraudulent practices. Cancellations were washed off so that the stamp could be reused. In 1855, the 1, 5, and 8 bajocchi values of the 1852 issues were forged at Bologna by lithography. The 1 bajocchi Bologna forgery is by far the rarest (only three copies are known). Of the 5 bajocchi and 8 bajocchi forgeries, there are two types each. They are considerably more valuable than the genuine stamps.
To combat these practices, it was suggested in 1856 that watermarked paper be employed; this was supplied by Canson Frères for the 50 bajocchi and the 1 scudo. The inscription Pietro Miliani Fabriano can be found once in a sheet on the 3 bajocchi (chamois and orange ochre) and one copy of the 6 bajocchi light blue is known with the watermark BATH. To discourage the washing off of cancellations, white paper was used for the three highest values and a special greasy gray ink that made the detection of washing very easy. The introduction of a grill cancellation also made the washing off of postmarks very difficult.
Early twentieth-century philatelic forgeries are more common than mid-nineteenth century ones. François Fournier produced many of these in typography. Most commonly encountered are the ½ bajocchi, 50 bajocchi, and 1 scudo. The ½ bajocchi forgery is a dark olive color unlike any genuine color and often surrounded by an uninterrupted frame line. It is well drawn. One also has to be careful of mint copies of the 7 bajocchi, with or without gum. The Fournier forgery of this value is well drawn but has a telltale blob of ink at the left end of the horizontal line of the 7. Some of the 50 bajocchi and 1 scudo Fourniers are excellent and should be expertized.
As a result of the Austro-Sardinian War of 1859, Sardinia-Piedmont annexed Lombardy, while Giuseppe Garibaldi overthrew the Bourbon monarchy in the south. Afraid that Garibaldi would set up a republican government, the Piedmont government petitioned French Emperor Napoleon III for permission to send troops through the Papal States to gain control of the south. This was granted on the condition that Rome be left undisturbed. In 1860, with much of the region already in rebellion against Papal rule, Sardinia-Piedmont conquered the eastern two-thirds of the Papal States and cemented its hold on the south. Bologna, Ferrara, Umbria, the Marches, Benevento and Pontecorvo were all formally annexed by November of the same year. While considerably reduced, the Papal States nevertheless still covered the Latium and large areas northwest of Rome.
A unified Kingdom of Italy was declared and in March 1861, the first Italian parliament, which met in Turin, the old capital of Piedmont, declared Rome the capital of the new Kingdom. However, the Italian government could not take possession of the city because a French garrison in Rome protected Pope Pius IX.
In June 1866, the Roman State officially adopted a metric currency. The lira of 100 centesimi replaced the previous monetary system of bajocchi and scudo. The basis of exchange was 20 bajocchi for one lira or 5 centesimi for one bajoccho.
On September 21, 1867, a new set of stamps with values in centesimi was issued to correspond to the changes in currency. No new designs were made; the old dies were used with appropriate changes in the values. The new values were 2 centesimi (using the old 2 bajocchi design); 3 centesmi (using the old ½ bajoccho design); 5 centesimi (using the old 3 bajocchi design); 10 centesimi (using the old 8 bajocchi design); 20 centesimi (using the old 4 bajocchi design); 40 centesimi (using the old 6 bajocchi design); and 80 centesimi (using the old 1 bajoccho design). These are listed as Scott #12-18.
Coccapellier cast the new stereotypes and the stamps were printed on “German paper,” surface-colored white paper supplied by Schmitt and Wast. Experiments showed that it was impossible to wash the cancellation from this type of paper without also removing the surface coloring and exposing the white paper beneath. Though some varieties of this paper are considerably less glossy than others, there are no completely dull papers known for this issue.
The composition was altered from the 1852 series. The 1867 sheets contained 64 stamps divided into four panes of sixteen (4×4). All stamps were divided by double lines (for cutting), continuous horizontally within a pane and interrupted vertically. A double line continuous on all sides surrounded each pane. Most of the reprints have vertical lines continuous and the horizontal lines interrupted.
These imperforate stamps were sold for less than one year but valid for use until the end of 1870. Due to the short period of usage, the 1867 set is relatively rare. The imperforate 3 centesimi is especially scarce because it was intended to pay a postal rate for printed matter that became obsolete before the stamps were issued. Genuine postaly used copies of this value, especially on cover, routinely sell for more than three times the price of unused examples.
Since not much time was allowed to exchange the old bajocchi stamps for the new centesimi values, many people attempted (and succeeded) in using them up long after their validity expired. This resulted in some very interesting covers on which combinations of bajocchi and centesimi stamps are found.
Toward the end of March 1868, a perforated version of the centesimi set appeared (Scott #19-25), and was used continuously until the end of 1870. The stamps were perforated 13 on a machine purchased from England; examples perforated 13¼ are known, but it is speculated that this variety is the result of paper shrinkage. Although the designs were the same as the 1867 series, a new composition of sheets of 120 (15×8) was used for all stamps except the 3 centesimi rose gray which retained the same composition as the stamps of the 1867 issue (64 stamps divided into four panes of sixteen) and the 3 centesimi pale gray which was printed in sheets of 64 (8×8) without division into panes.
As in the 1867 stamps, so in this issue the horizontal dividing lines are continuous and the vertical lines are interrupted. In genuine stamps continuous vertical lines on one side only indicate the edge of the sheet or pane. The paper used was like that of the 1867 issue, although one can now distinguish three types: glazed, semiglazed, and dull (the last found in some varieties of the 10 centesimi and 20 centesimi).
The opportunity for the Kingdom of Italy to eliminate the Papal States came in 1870; the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in July prompted Napoleon III to recall his garrison from Rome and the collapse of the Second French Empire at the Battle of Sedan deprived Rome of its French protector. King Victor Emmanuel II at first aimed at a peaceful conquest of the city and proposed sending troops into Rome, under the guise of offering protection to the pope. When the pope refused, Italy declared war on September 10, 1870, and the Italian Army, commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna, crossed the frontier of the papal territory on September 11 and advanced slowly toward Rome.
The Italian Army reached the Aurelian Walls on September 19 and placed Rome under a state of siege. Although the pope’s tiny army was incapable of defending the city, Pius IX ordered it to put up more than a token resistance to emphasize that Italy was acquiring Rome by force and not consent. This incidentally served the purposes of the Italian State and gave rise to the myth of the Breach of Porta Pia, in reality a tame affair involving a cannonade at close range that demolished a 1600-year-old wall in poor repair. Pope Pius IX ordered the commander of the papal forces to limit the defense of the city in order to avoid bloodshed.
The city was captured on September 20, 1870. Rome and what was left of the Papal States were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy as a result of a plebiscite the following October. This marked the definite end of the Papal States.
When Italian troops conquered Rome on September 20, 1870, Italian stamps immediately replaced the Papal State stamps. However, many who retained stamps of the Papal States continued to use them until the end of 1870, in which period we find covers with mixed Papal and Italian postage.
By November of 1870, the dies, plates, and cliches used to print the Papal stamps had been sent to the director of posts in Florence, where a Signore Usigli somehow came into possession of them. In 1878, he made reprints of the 2 centesimi, 3 centesimi, 20 centesimi, 40 centesimi, and 80 centesimi stamps. in colors resembling the original issues. He also made other fancy printings of all the stamps in the same color. Usigli sold the cliches to Bonasi, who passed them on to Moens, Gelli, Tani, and Cohn, all of whom made reprints. Usigli was the only one who kept the original continuous horizontal lines but his reprints can be distinguished from the originals by the color, paper, and gum. The reprints of other printers may be recognized by their horizontal dividing lines that interrupt the vertical and by their incorrect perforation (Gelli and Tani did print a very few copies accurately perforated 13, but the perforations on the reprints are cleaner and more well defined than on the originals.) Ninety percent of the reprints will be detected by their perforations and/or their dividing lines.
There were also remainders produced by the Papal postal authorities less than three weeks before the Italian conquest. These had not yet been gummed or perforated when the Italians confiscated them from the Apostolic printing shop. They were the 5 centesimi blue, 10 centesimi vermillion orange, and some shades of the 20 centesimi (magenta, solferino, dark solferino, and deep purple). They are collectible items and, except for the 5c. blue, are quite common. Their color and paper glazing distinguish them from similar stamps of the imperforate issue of 1867. There have been attempts to gum these and forge the perforations, but the perforations are almost always incorrect. One other remainder, the 80 centesimi dark lilac rose, enjoys the somewhat more respectable status of an unissued stamp. It was gummed and perforated, but not put into use (Scott #25b).
Despite the fact that the traditionally Catholic powers did not come to the pope’s aid, the papacy rejected any substantial accommodation with the Italian Kingdom, especially any proposal which required the pope to become an Italian subject. Instead the papacy confined itself (see Prisoner in the Vatican) to the Apostolic Palace and adjacent buildings in the loop of the ancient fortifications known as the Leonine City, on Vatican Hill. From there it maintained a number of features pertaining to sovereignty, such as diplomatic relations, since in canon law these were inherent in the papacy. In the 1920s, the papacy — then under Pius XI — renounced the bulk of the Papal States and the Lateran Treaty with Italy (then ruled by the National Fascist Party under Benito Mussolini) was signed on February 11, 1929, creating the State of the Vatican City, forming the sovereign territory of the Holy See, which was also indemnified to some degree for loss of territory. Italian stamps were used until the Concordat in 1929 between Vatican City and Italy again provided for separate postage stamps.
I currently have just one stamp from the Papal States, Scott #4c listed as 3 bajocchi black on yellow buff paper with a grid cancellation, released on January 1, 1852. All indications are that it is an original but you can see the fault, described as a “thin” — a major surface abrasion across most of the top of the stamp. I purchased it several years ago at a significant discount from the listed US $45 because of this. I’d like to obtain more as it is a very interesting area (and most of the stamps are much more colorful than this one).
For more information on Roman States stamps, the following webpages are useful starting points for separating the genuine stamps with the forgeries and reprints: “Italian States- a classical minefield” on the excellent Big Blue 1840-1940 blog, “Italian States Stamps – Papal States” on the Stamp-Collecting-World site, and “Introduction to the Philately of the Roman States” by Rev. Fr. Floyd A. Jenkins, S.J. reprinted on the Vatican Philatelic Society website and the source of much of the information presented here today. The latter article originally appeared in serial form in the COROS Chronicle, the journal of the Collectors of Religion on Stamps, between October 1963 and October 1964.