Vatican City - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Vatican City, a landlocked sovereign city-state consisting of a walled enclave within the city of Rome has a total land area of 0.17 square miles and a population of around 825. Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, is a walled enclave enclosed within Rome, Italy. It is ruled by the Pope, whose residence is called the Apostolic Palace. More than half of Vatican is taken up by Vatican Gardens which is decorated very tastefully. It is the only country to be listed entirely as a World Heritage Site and that too under its ‘Special Protection’. Vatican is the first country to become carbon neutral by offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions with a climate forest in Hungary. The major sources of its income are from the museums and post office, sale of stamps, coins, medals, souvenirs, admissions, and sale of publications.

Travel Resources:

Any time  is a good time to visit Vatican. Almost all activities take place in st. Peter’s Square. Vatican City houses some of the world’s famous arts. St. Peter's Basilica is a superior example of Renaissance architecture. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its ceiling and Last Judgment by Michelangelo and the magnificently restored frescoes by Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Botticelli. Raphael's "Transfiguration", Leonardo da Vinci's "St. Jerome" and Caravaggio's "Deposition" and "Denial of Peter" are items not to be missed.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
The VaticanB003R4ZGAA$14Presents both an insider perspective and a traveler’s perspective. Photographs are a standout.
Inside the Vatican978-1426204500$14Great photographs and valuable information about the Vatican. Not an art book but provides a great foundation to any visitor.
Streetwise Rome Map978-1931257022$91:17,000 Scale.
International Travel Grounded Adapter PlugB001ISUCNI$5

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Vatican City were a set of fifteen stamps released on August 1, 1929 showing Papal Arms and Pope Pius XI. The set (Scott #1 to #13 and #E1 to #E2) catalogs for around $150 MNH and around $50 used. Surcharged varieties of the first issues with the Pope Pius XI design were issued on June 16, 1934 and that set (Scott #35 to #40) is very valuable and catalogs for around $2300 MNH and around $880 used. In the interim, a set of eighteen stamps showing local scenes were issued on May 31, 1933. The set (Scott #19 to #34 and #E3 to #E4) catalogs for around $200 MNH and around $70 used. The designs show Arms of Pope Pius XI, Vatican Palace and Obelisk, Vatican Gardens, Pope Pius XI, and Saint Peter’s Basilica. Vatican City was established in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty signed on behalf of the Holy See and Kingdom of Italy. It is ruled by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Vatican is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1984.

Vatican City released a set of six stamps on October 12, 1938 to mark the International Christian Archaeological congress in Rome. The set (Scott #55 to #60) catalogs for around $125 MNH and around $45 used. The designs show Crypt of Saint Cecilia in Catacombs of Saint Calixtus, and Basilica of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus in Catacombs of Saint Domitilla.

Other issues of Vatican City enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of five stamps released on October 31, 1951 to mark the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon. The set (Scott #149 to #153) catalogs for around $65 MNH and around $40 used. The designs show Council of Chalcedon and Pope Leo I remonstrating with Attila the Hun. The Council of Chalcedon was held from October 8 to November 1, 451 AD at Chalcedon (Asia Minor). It is regarded as the last council that Anglicans and Protestants both consider ecumenical.
  2. A set of twelve stamps released between 1984 and 1985 in the Papal Journeys theme. The set (Scott #737 to #748) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $15 used. The designs show allegories of the Pope at Pakistan, Philippines, Guam, Japan, Alaska, Africa, Portugal, Great Britain, Argentina, Switzerland, San Marino, and Spain. Vatican City has released a number of sets over the years in the Journeys and Travels of the Pope themes. The sets are sought after and form a good collectible theme.
  3. A set of ten stamps released on March 23, 1993 in the Architecture theme showing buildings in Vatican City and Rome. The set (Scott #917 to #926) catalogs for around $13 MNH or used. The designs show Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Saint Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome, Saint Paul’s Basilica in Rome, Apostolic Palace in Vatican, Lateran Apostolic Palace in Rome, Papal Palace in Castel Gandolfo, Chancery Palace in Rome, Palace of the Propagation of the Faith in Rome, and Saint Calixtus Palace in Rome.
  4. A set of fifteen stamps released on June 3, 2004 in the Euro theme showing Flags of different countries and One-Euro Coins. The set (Scott #1269 to #1283) catalogs for around $30 MNH or used. The flags show Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Vatican City, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, and Spain. Vatican issues its own coins as well and has used the Euro as its currency since January 1, 1999 following a special agreement with the European Union. As not many are issued, Vatican Euro coins are highly sought by collectors.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Vatican City were City State Standard Coinage (100 Centesimi = 1 Lira) Bronze Centesimis issued in 1929 showing Crowned Shield and Date in Obverse and Olive Branch and Value in Reverse. The issues had mintage upwards of 10K and catalogs in the $20 range for UNC. The first gold coin was a 0.2546 troy ounce 100 Lire issue of 1929 showing Papal Bust in Obverse and Standing Jesus with child at feet in Reverse. The issue has low mintage (10K) and catalogs at a premium to bullion value.

Numismatic items of Vatican City include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$5 and upUNC Lires from the 1950s onward starts around $5. Silver Coins from the 1950s onward starts around $20. Low mintage commemorative silver proofs, Mint Year Sets from the 1960s, Gold Coins, etc start around $50 and go well into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Crucifixes, rosaries, calenders, collectibles, medals, jewelry items etc., are some souvenirs from Vatican City.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$5 and upCity posters, Lynne Neuman City Prints etc start around $5. 1800s themed Vatican signed and number color prints start around $50. Original Vintage Oil paintings start well into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and up19th century maps, souvenir spoons, etc start around $10. World Fair Vatican Pavilion curios start around $30. 17th century papal medal baroques, Stained Glass Windows etc start into the 100s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$5 and upArt Treasures of the Vatican Promo Cards start around $5. Vintage Souvenir Themed Pens, Communion Wedding Cross Keys, Gold and Silver Pope themed jewelry etc start around $30. Vintage vestments, themed music boxes, collector plates, etc start around $100. 19th century and old reliquaries start well into the 100s.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

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