Vatican City Issues Special Stamps After Papal Resignation

Vatican City, Vatican stampsCall me old fashioned, but when I’m on the road there’s something special about writing a postcard, sticking on some local stamps and sending it to loved ones back home. Receiving mail from overseas is almost as much fun.

I especially like rare stamps from smaller or less frequently traveled countries. Sadly I couldn’t send any postcards from Somaliland because they don’t have a mail service. I was also disappointed that on my recent trip to Iraq we never stopped at a post office.

Luckily you don’t have to go so far to find strange and soon-to-be collectable stamps. The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has forced Vatican City to issue a special set of stamps.

They are emblazoned with an angel holding the Arms of the Apostolic Camera and the words “Sede Vacante MMXIII” (“Vacant See 2013”). They come in four different denominations of 70 and 85 euro cents, 2 euros, and 2.50 euros.

Stamps for the vacant see are designed shortly after a new Pope takes office and are kept until he dies, to be used for the brief period before the next Pope is elected.

Stamp Magazine reports that since the Vatican started issuing stamps, the Vacant See issues have only been used for a total of 20 days. I suspect this means that franked (used) Vacant See stamps will later become pretty valuable owing to their rarity. So if you’re in Italy, head on over to that little country inside Rome and send out some postcards. Your friends and family will thank you for it a few years from now.

[Photo courtesy Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office]

Emailed photos become instant postcards with Postcardly

postcardsIf you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re a bit too…lazy to send postcards when you’re on vacation trip. Like most of us, I got sucked into the convenience of email, and it was a good excuse to not deal with looking for a post office in a foreign country. On the other hand, I love sharing vacation photos. Which, understandably, tests the patience of those who failed to receive a postcard from me while I was on said trip.

If you possess similar habits, I suggest you check out Postcardly. This recently-launched company allows you to email photo attachments from your laptop, an Internet cafe, or your Smartphone. Postcardly will then turn that photo into a real postcard (you provide the text, and they print it up on the back of the card), and mail it to as many people as you want (delivery takes between one day and a week). Postcardly isn’t the first company to come up with this concept, but it differs in that their postcards are the real deal; they’re not a phone app (i.e. no need for roaming capability or a global phone), pop-out cards, or printed on flimsy stock. They’re keepsakes, if you will.

Pretty nifty, especially for kids or people like my dad, who can’t fathom computers (or really, anyone; who doesn’t love receiving a postcard?). Postcardly costs $4.99 a month for five postcards, $9.99 a month for 15 postcards, or a one-time charge of $19.99 for 20 prepaid postcards. Currently, they only mail cards mailed domestically; international service coming soon. Go here for a free trial of three postcards. And don’t forget to write!