Finding The Vatican Postal Museum In 2022

Marvin Lanahan -

Over the years the Philatelic and Numismatic Museum of the Vatican Museums has moved several times. In 2010 I found it in the basement of the Vatican Museum. This year finding it proved to be a true adventure!

The Borgia Tower, erected by Pope Alexander VI,
viewed from the courtyard of the Belvedere,
the first seat of the Philatelic And Numismatic Museum

When planning our 2022 fall trip to Vatican City we purchased one of the early access tour tickets to the Vatican Museums. On the scheduled date, we were able to enter the Vatican Museum building shortly after 8 am and were about the 3rd tour group to be let in. After gaining access our tour group work its way through the various museum rooms to see all kinds of statures, sarcophaguses, tapestries, and the famous hallway of maps, and eventually ended up in the Sistine Chapel. At that point, we were told that there were two exits from the Sistine Chapel. One doorway for those wanting to continue on the tour to St. Peter's Basicilla and a second for those who wanted to return to the Vatican Museums and continue touring on their own. We left the tour group.

After exiting the Sistine Chapel we found ourselves walking through the Vatican Library eventually ending up in an outdoor courtyard, the Court of the Pigna. We eventually found a sign that directed us back inside the Vatican Museum on a pathway toward the Philatelic Museum. After visiting several other rooms we went up a short stairway and finally found the philatelic collection. The pathway through the Vatican Museum seems to be one long pathway of artistic collections with the stamp museum being last on the list, but we eventually found it!

Finding the Philatelic and Numismatic Museum inside
the Vatican Museum building can be very difficult.

Display of the stamps the Vatican Philatelic Museum is laid out to present every stamp issued by the Vatican Post Office since the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The stamps are arranged in date order sequence, grouped by each papal pontificate since 1929. There are a few display cases showing material from the papal states. There are also several display cases that show some of the preparatory sketches made during the development of the stamp designs. Basically, the Philatelic Museum presents a collection of mint Vatican stamps, showing a few covers and no information on first-day covers or the various postal markings that have been used.

Material in the Vatican Philatelic Museum shows all of the Vatican stamps
issued since 1929, arranged by date issued, and grouped by papal pontificates.

The Vatican Philatelic Museum has several
display cases of stamp developmental sketches.

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The Vatican Philatelic Museum also has several display cases of material from the Papal States. This is an example of a letter from Rome to Venice prostmarked 1/15/1868, franked with one 20 cent imperforate.

The Vatican Philatelic Museum is more orriented to the general public than the serious stamp collector. For the serious stamp colector it lacks substance depth. It would have been nice to have seen some of the terrific first day covers along with the various postmarks that the Vatican Post Office has produced over the years. At least the postal museum is now out of the Vatican Museum basement and probably will receive more visitors per year than in the past. Perhaps it will help introduce more people to Vatican stamp collecting. However, it is hard to find!

Marvin Lanahan, Vatican City Postal Museum 2010 (webpage)
Danilo Vignati, The Philatelic and Numismatic Museum of the Vatican (webpage)