By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent
Vaccari, based near Modena, Italy, offered Italian and worldwide stamps and postal history on Nov. 12. A forerunner cover from the tiny republic of San Marino was one of the standout items.
During the unification of Italy, San Marino was allowed to keep its long-standing independence in return for having aided many prominent individuals in the fight for unity, including Garibaldi himself. Today it is considered the world’s oldest independent state.
An 1863 cover mailed from San Marino to the town of Faenza, in the nearby province of Ravenna, was franked with two of the Sardinian stamps then current in the new Kingdom of Italy, a 5- and 10-centesimi with embossed portraits of Victor Emmanuel II (Scott 10, 11).
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The stamps were canceled first with a boxed rectangular postmark reading “S. Marino” and then with a circular datestamp in Rimini on Sept. 10, 1863. Bidding on the neat little cover began at €6,500 and ended at €16,000, or $17,000. Vaccari does not charge a buyer’s fee.
San Marino, which has remained free since its founding as a monastic community in A.D. 301, did not issue its own first stamps until 1877. During the 20th century, its hundreds of colorful, topical stamps would turn out to be one of the country’s primary exports.