The first charity stamps of Italy were issued in 1915. These types of stamps feature a "value added amount" or "surtax amount" in addition to the postal denomination of the stamp.
The issue of Italian stamps, to raise money for charitable purposes, began out of necessity. The charity stamps were issued during or just after World War I, when Italian army was fighting against the equally powerful armed forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, creating large numbers of badly wounded soldiers and needy civilians.
As a result, the need arose to quickly raise money to fund public charities for the aid of Italian war victims and their families. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this was to levy surtax or value added tax on letter mail.
In the year 1915 four charity stamps were issued to raise money for the Red Cross. The stamps were issued with two different designs. The 10c denominated red stamp features a scepter carrying a flag with the coat of arms of Savoy in a wreath. The ‘Red Cross’ symbol is at the bottom. The stamp value ‘10’ and the surcharge value ‘5’ are on the right. The other three stamps were issued with the same design of an eagle wearing a crown displaying the Arms of Savoy. The stamps were issued with different colours and different values.
Italy, as well as most other countries of the world, utilizes the added amounts on these surtaxed postage stamps to raise money for national organizations, public events, and public charities.
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