1/05/2012 Italy, Colonies, States & Areas
This iconic stamp engraving of the crowned Lion of Tuscany (the Marzocco) was produced for the Duke of Tuscany, The Grand Duke Leopold II of Lorraine, and shows the seated Marzocco holding the shield bearing the Duke's Crest of the Fleur de Lys.
The engraving is taken from Donatello's 1420 sculpture, currently housed in the Bargello Museum, which was the emblem of the Medici family of Florence and which for centuries stood atop a pillar in the Piazza della Signoria, the main square.
The design was used for several different stamp issues, the first in 1851 was printed on bluish paper, subsequently changing to greyish paper and watermarked crowns in a series of lined boxes. The subsequent issue in 1857 was printed on paper watermarked vertical wavy lines.
At the time of issue, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany included the territory of Pisa where to re-enforce the dominance of Florence live lions had been kept at the commune's expense from the Middle Ages until they were banished in 1771.
In 1859 the Grand Duke abdicated and a provisional government was formed which aligned itself to the House of Savoy whereupon the stamp design changed to include the Cross of Savoy in its design.
The 1851 2 crazie scarlet on bluish paper is one of the scarcest stamps of the Italian States and which owing to the very narrow spacing between the designs (1.5 mm) is seldom seen with clear margins. This beautiful example offered in our current auction is very fine and comes complete with a certificate of expertisation from Enzo Diena.