The Messina-Reggio Earthquake:
Commemorative Relief Stamps

compiled by Gregg Patruno

Germany (10-20 Pfennig, 1.9 inch) -- Hungary (10-20? Filler, 1.6 inch)

Subjects Above:
Row 1 -- Traditional Decorated Cart (Sicily), Greek Theater and Mount Etna (Taormina), Volcanic Island (Stromboli), Townspeople on a Mountainside Lane (Taormina?), Greek Theater and Mount Etna (Taormina)
Row 2 -- Greek Temple (Agrigento), Greek Temple (Agrigento), Medieval Abbey (Taormina)
Row 3 -- Church (Messina), Cathedral and Archbishop's Residence (Palermo), King Vittorio Emanuele and Queen Elena (Italy)
The stamps' triangular shape may have been to symbolize Sicily.
(If you can confidently identify the "?" picture above, with the light blue border in Row 1, please write to [email protected] -- thank you!)

Shortly after the earthquake, an international committee based in Germany (or possibly Denmark?) issued similar sets of 11 relief stamps for sale in Austria (10-20 heller), Britain (1.5-2.5 pence), Denmark (10-20 ore), France (10-25 centime), Germany (10-20 pfennig, single color and dual color), Hungary (10-20? filler), and Russia (5-10 kopeck). Other sets denominated "5-10 ct" and "5-10 cents" probably represented the Netherlands? and the US?, respectively; and Italy? may have also used one of these two for its own denomination (5-10 centesimi) -- or may have issued still another set. (Modern reprints also exist, which fail to match the originals in color, gum, watermark, perforation gauge, or sheet layout.) Some authentic sets received special cancellations commemorating the moment of the catastrophe (12/28/1908, 5:20am), like the Messina and Reggio postmarks on the Dutch? and British stamps below.
Netherlands? (5-10 Cents, MESSINA) -- Britain (1.5-2.5 Pence, REGGIO CAL)

The 10 scenes from Sicily and Calabria were printed together in numbered sheets of 50 (the dual-color German version is shown below) and the Royal Couple stamps were printed in separate sheets of 50 with the higher denomination. (Some of the participating countries may have skipped the Royal Couple stamp, due to policies against portraying foreign monarchs.) Descriptions of these triangle stamps have been published in several articles and catalogs, but these generally contain significant errors.
Germany (10 Pfennig)
Sheet of 50

Additional postal commemoratives were issued by Austria:

by the Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross:

by several local Italian charities:

and by the Soviet Union (on the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the disaster):