The first Italy stamps were issued 24th February 1862. These were similar in design to those issued by Sardinia in 1855 but perforated. The unification of Italy gradually assimilated the independent states which had been issuing stamps since 1850. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed on 17th March 1861. The first complete issue inscribed “Poste Italiane” was released on 1st December 1863. This was printed in both Turin and London. After World War I, Italy gained territory from Austria, particularly in the area of the Tyrol (Trentino) and Venezia Giulia. Stamps for these areas were issued on 11th November 1918. As Germany's ally, Italy declared war on 10th June 1940 and the following wartime period saw a tremendous array of overprinted and uniquely designed occupation stamp issues. Invaded by the Allies on 3rd September 1943 prolonged action continued throughout the war. British, American and other Allied forces Post Offices continued to operate until 1945.
On 17th September 1943 stamps for the Allied Military Government were issued in Sicily; further issues were released for use in Naples. The Royal Italian Government was re-established. At that time control of the southern regions was transferred to them by the Allies and the stamps of Italy issued prior to this date were used. On 23rd September 1943 Mussolini proclaimed the Italian Social Republic which administered those parts of Italy which were occupied by Germany. Overprinted stamps for this area were issued in February 1944.
In June 1944 King Victor Emmanuel abdicated in favour of his son Umberto, who became Regent and then King of Italy. On 10th June 1946 a republic was formed and Umberto abdicated. The first stamps of the republic were issued on 31st October 1946.
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