Seapost -> Italian Sea Post Offices

Italian Sea Post Offices

By Mike Dovey

Merchant ships.

Following the introduction of Sea Post Offices in vessels registered in France, Germany and the USA, Italy decided to use a similar system and by the late 1930s all Italian passenger liners had their own post offices on board to deal with mail. These marks were also issued to just a few cargo vessels and these can be quite rare. Postmarks and paquebot marks were used in the SPOs. The postmarks varied from one shipping company to another. In the 1970s some Lloyd Triestino ships' postmarks stated Motonave Postale Italiana/date bridge/above the ship name, some had the abbreviation M/N ship name above/date bridge/company name, and variations. (Motonave = motor ship). Tirrenia company ships' postmarks had a format Tirrenia "M/N" ship name in a double circle. Italia company ships' postmarks had Piroscafo Italiano* ship name in a double circle. [Illustrations].

Paquebot type 4003 on cover
Paquebot type 4003 posted from the m/n GIULIO CESARE

The onboard postal system was resumed after the end of the Second World War and cancellations from various liners were available until the 1980's.

Paquebot type 1 on cover
Paquebot type 1 posted from the MV MICHELANGELO

Table of listed Italian paquebot types:

paquebot mark type paquebot mark type paquebot mark type
4003 1 2
paquebot mark type paquebot mark type  
3 4  

The above marks are known from the following vessels.

TypeVessel TypeVessel
4003 Antoniotto Usodimare 1 Michelangelo
  Amerigo Vespucci    
  Conte Biancamano 2 Etna
  Cristofore Colombo   Nereide
  Donizetti   Stromboli
  Giulio Cesare   Vesuvic
  Leonardo da Vinci    
  Raffaello 3 Donizetti
  Verdi 4 Augustus


Paquebot mark type 2 on cover
Paquebot type 2 posted from the MV NEREIDE

Type "4003" is shown in Roger Hosking's book "Paquebot Cancellations of the World" and was by far the most widely used mark. The other four marks are all shown in Gus Lund's Book "The Paquebot Marks of the Americas" and are not as well known, being used on only a handful of vessels.

Paquebot type 4003 on cover
Paquebot type 4003 used on the maiden voyage of the t/n RAFFAELLO

Naval ships.

Post offices in warships hold a single circle date stamp, typically displaying NAVE followed by ship name/date/post horn at foot. These often appear on mail with an oval ship's name stamp headed NAVE ITALIANE/star in wreath motif/NAVE plus warship name.

Additional material provided by Phil Densham.



Roger Hosking's "Paquebot Cancellations of the World". (Still available - 3rd Edition)
Gustav Lund's "The Paquebot Marks of the Americas". (Out of print).

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