Coin of Syracuse

The definitive series “Coin of Syracuse” marked for three decades Italian philately and postal history. First values appeared in 1953 and, despite a tentative in 1960 to launch a new defintive series (Michelangelo’s paintings), the official replacement arrived in 1980 with the new Italian Castles defintive series. The “Siracusana” series, also known as “Italia Turrita” (“Italy decorated with tower”, since the female profile is identified with a personification of Italy) expired on January 4th 1988.

First emission dates back to June 1953, with winged wheel watermark type III:


5 lire dark grey,


10 lire vermilion,


12 lire dark green,


20 lire brown,


25 lire violet,


35 lire reddish rose,


60 lire blue,


80 lire dark ochre.

On February 1st 1954 a new value was added, still with winged wheel type III watermark:
– 13 lire, pink.

On December 28th 1954 the “high values” were issues, with winged wheel type II watermark (typical of recess printing production):
– 100 lire brown,
– 200 lire blue.

1953 and 1954 values were all re-issued with the new Stars watermark, introduced in 1955:
– 5 lire grey,
– 10 lire vermilion,
– 12 lire dark green,
– 13 lire pink,
– 20 lire brown,
– 25 lire violet,
– 35 lire reddish rose,
– 60 lire blue,
– 80 lire dark ochre.

Even the high values (100 and 200 lire) were re-printed with stars watermark. Nevertheless, there is no specific page dedicated to objects franked with these re-issued values. With recess printing process it is impossible to identify the watermark without removing the stamp from its support. On the contrary, the other values are all printed in photo gravure and with oblique illumination it is (nearly) always possible to tell the watermark. Then the 100 lire and 200 lire were re-issued in small format:


100 lire brown,


200 lire blue.

Further values were issued after the introduction of Stars watermark, so there is no equivalent with winged wheel watermark for the following:


1 lira dark grey,


6 lire ochre,


15 lire grayish violet,


30 lire yellowish brown,


40 lire rose,


50 lire olive green,


70 lire turquoise,

90 lire reddish brown,


130 lire red and dark grey.

Starting from 1968, the Italian Postal Administration introduced optical devices for the identification of fluorescent marks. Siracusana stamps were re-issued with fluorescent paper: in order to facilitate the identification, the stamp image was reduced 1 mm in width and 1 mm in height, while the overall dimensions of the stamps remained the same. In this way a wider white frame around the image should have been easier to identify through fluorescence by the optical devices. Up to 1972 or 73 the stamps under the UV light show a yellowish fluorescence, while later production shows a whiter colour:
– 1 lira dark grey: May 6th 1968,
– 5 lire grey: February 20th 1968,
– 6 lire ochre: May 6th 1968,
– 10 lire vermilion: February 20th 1968,
– 15 lire violet grey: February 20th 1968,,
– 20 lire brown: February 20th 1968,,
– 25 lire violet: February 20th 1968,,
– 30 lire yellowish brown: February 20th 1968,
– 40 lire rose: May 6th 1968,
– 50 lire olive green: February 20th 1968,
– 60 lire blue: May 6th 1968,
– 70 lire emerald: May 6th 1968,
– 80 lire brownish rose: May 6th 1968,
– 90 lire reddish brown: February 20th 1968,
– 100 lire brown: March 11th 1968,
– 130 lire red and dark grey: March 11th 1968,
– 200 lire blue: May 6th 1968.

New values issued after 1968 exist only with fluorescence and smaller image:


55 lire dark violet: May 24th 1969,

120 lire blue and green: November 22nd 1977,


125 lire orange and violet: February 27th 1974,


150 lire violet: March 15th 1976,


170 lire green and yellowish brown: November 22nd 1977,


180 lire grey and violet: November 15th 1971


300 lire emerald: July 18th 1972,


350 lire red and brownish red: November 22nd 1977,


400 lire brownish pink: March 15th 1976.

A lot of 10 lire with winged wheel watermark (1953 issue) was printed with fluorescent ink, and the same happened for a lot of 10 lire with stars type II watermark (1956). At that time fluorescence had no practical use, so the presence of fluorescent ink is just incidental.


Nota sulla validità: in merito alla validità, il Catalogo Enciclopedico Italiano ed 2008-2009 cita la Siracusana come valida “fino al 2 gennaio 1988”. Il catalogo Sassone, edizione 2002, cita invece “Validità fino al 4-I-1988”, come il Catalogo Unificato, edizione 2001. Il testo di F. Filanci, D. Bogoni, E. Angellieri, F. Luperi, A. Malvestio, M. Manelli La Siracusana – La variante infinita, Poste Italiane, 1995 afferma che la Siracusana fu fuori corso “a partire dal 4 gennaio 1988”. Il testo riporta il Decreto Ministeriale che mise la serie fuori corso, quindi si possono fare alcune considerazioni di tipo matematico:
– data del Decreto: 4 aprile 1987;
– pubblicazione del Decreto:  Gazzetta Ufficiale 233, 6 ottobre 1987;
– testo del decreto: “a partire dal 90° giorno dalla pubblicazione […] sono dichiarati fuori corso”;
– calendario alla mano: 6 ottobre 1987 + 90 giorni = 3 gennaio 1988, primo giorno di non validità;
– il 3 gennaio 1988 è una domenica ed il termine di validità si pospone al giorno feriale successivo (a questo proposito ho visto citazioni all’articolo 2963 del Codice Civile, che recita “Se il termine scade in un giorno festivo, è prorogato di diritto al giorno seguente non festivo” ma che si riferisce ai termini di prescrizione),
– il primo giorno in cui la Siracusana non è valida è il successivo 4 gennaio 1988.
La lettera primo porto sotto riportata (grazie ad A.D. per il gradito dono!) è in tariffa (i francobolli sommano a 600 lire) ma non è più validamente affrancata.