Postage stamps and postal history of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Not to be confused with the Postage stamps and postal history of Malta.
A stamp from the first series of SMOM stamps issued in 1966

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, otherwise known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or SMOM is a Roman Catholic order based in Rome, Italy. The order takes its origins from the Knights Hospitaller, an organization founded in Jerusalem in 1050. Following the loss of Christian held territories of the Holy Land to Muslims, the Order operated from Rhodes (1310–1523), and later from Malta (1530–1798), over which it was sovereign.

Order's postal service in Malta

The Casa del Commun Tesoro, which housed the Order's post office in Malta from 1708 to 1798

When the Maltese islands were administered by the Order, the knights set up a postal service. The earliest known letter is dated 14 June 1532, and it was sent from Grandmaster l'Isle Adam to the Bishop of Auxerre in France. The first proper postal service was set up in 1708, and the service was carried out at the Casa del Commun Tesoro in Valletta. The first postal markings on Maltese mail appeared later on in the 18th century, sometime between 1755 and 1791.[1]


A miniature sheet issued by the SMOM in 2004

The postal administration of the order, known as the Poste Magistrali, was instituted on 20 May 1966 under a Decree of the Grand Master of the order and the first stamps were issued on 15 November 1966. Until recently the stamps were denominated in the currency of the order which was Scudi, Grani and Tari, which roughly equated to the currency of Malta before it joined the Eurozone; 1 scudo = 12 tari = 240 grani = 12 Maltese cents.[2] Since 1 January 2005 the stamps have been denominated in euros.[3]

The stamps are inscribed Poste Magistrali and bear one or more small Maltese Crosses. Early issues were printed by De La Rue, but today a variety of Maltese and Italian printers are used. As well as postage stamps, the Order has produced aerogrammes, maximum cards, first day covers, miniature sheets, postage due stamps and postcards with imprinted stamps.[2]

Each year, one stamp issue is devoted to St. John the Baptist, who is the Order's Patron Saint, and one to the celebration of Christmas.[3]


Post boxes of the SMOM at their headquarters in Rome

The stamps are issued for both postal and charitable reasons. Despite over 50 bi-lateral postal agreements[3] the stamps are usually classed as cinderella stamps as they do not have postal validity throughout the world. Most postal agreements are with countries in which the order does charitable work.

The SMOM is not a member of the Universal Postal Union.[4]


  1. Maltapost privatisation latest red-letter day in postal history. Times of Malta, 21 January 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  2. 1 2 Said, Godwin., ed. Said S.M.O.M. Stamp and Coin Catalogue 1996. Valletta, Malta: Said International Ltd., 1996. ISBN 99909-43-16-8
  3. 1 2 3 Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  4. UPU membership list. Retrieved 23.04.10.

External links

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