malta

Malta

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Officially dating back to 1860, the postal history of Malta unexpectedly reaches well into the  16th century when letters carried privately on sailing vessels were taken to other nearby islands. One of the earliest recorded examples of such a missive, dated June 1532, was delivered to the Bishop of Auxerre and sent by The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John. The medieval Catholic military order was headquartered in Malta from 1530 until 1798 and undertook postal duties as part of their benign occupation.

After 1798, during subsequent occupations of Malta by French and British forces, the reorganisation of the postal system led to a few select rooms in the San Anton Palace, which currently serves as the official residence of the President of Malta, being set aside as a post office and the beginnings of the post office led to island-wide letter sending. Subsequently, a special boat service was set up to Sicily, delivering parcels and correspondence every Thursday. By 1806, Malta had become a key component of colonial contact, as a node on a wide-reaching packet service operated by speedy privately-owned vessels carrying mail from Falmouth, England, to Gibraltar and Malta.

In August 1857, a supply of British stamps was sent to Malta but it was only in 1860 that the first Maltese postage stamp, the Queen Victoria Half-Penny Yellow, was put into circulation.

On 13 December 1974 Malta became a Republic and in 1979 the British presence finally came to an end. On both occasions, commemorative stamps were designed by Emvin Cremona, regarded as one of the notable Maltese artists of the 20th century he also designed the stamp issued to commemorate Malta's independence from Great Britain in 1964. In 2004, when Malta joined the European Union, further commemorative stamps were issued and once the Euro was adopted in 2008, stamp issues were denominated in the dual currency for a short period.