The Malta Postal Museum, which opened its doors to the public in June 2016, is the latest in a string of initiatives that are helping Malta preserve its rich and diverse heritage. Set in a typical Maltese house and spread over four floors, the museum traces the history of the postal service in the islands as far back as the 16th century and has a wealth of related articles.
Among the historic artefacts on display at the Postal Museum Malta are a number of hand- written letters delivered by what went for a postal service back in the day - mostly ships plying between Mediterranean ports and a string of land-based couriers. One fascinating example is a letter sent from Malta by a French knight dating back to 1576. Of more historic significance is a letter written by Lord Nelson requesting assistance during the blockade of the French in Valletta in 1799.
Although philately is nowadays not the popular hobby it once was, Malta has always been held in high esteem among stamp collectors both in terms of the quality of Malta’s stamp designs as well as the relative rarity of Malta’s stamps, since issues come in obviously limited numbers. Malta’s stamp designs gained a worldwide reputation from the late fifties onwards, when for twenty-three years most designs were left in the capable hands of Emvin Cremona – one of the pillars of Maltese 20th century art. Cremona’s designs are bold, hard-edged and vary from depictions of the human form to pure abstracts. Cremona was among the first stamp designers in the world to part with the stamp’s traditional rectangular format – introducing ground breaking pentagonal shapes in some designs. The museum is lucky enough to hold a highly interesting collection of Cremona’s original hand drawn designs – for the art lover this is perhaps the museum’s highlight.
While Great Britain issued the world’s first postage stamp in 1840, Malta started issuing its own stamps not much later, in 1860. The museum has a complete collection of Malta’s stamps over the last 150 years and any avid stamp collector will surely gloat over a few Malta rarities – such as the 1919 St.Paul Shipwreck stamp – reckoned as a world collectible.
But the museum is more than just a haven for philatelists. It’s a surprisingly child friendly museum and activities to promote the love of stamp collecting among younger children are held frequently. The museum’s shop also has some beautifully crafted merchandise and if you are visiting with young children it will be difficult to resist getting your hands on the soft toy version of the museum’s postman mascot…
All photos courtesy of the Malta Postal Museum.
The Malta Postal Museum is located at 135, Archbishop Street Valletta – just behind the Grand Masters Palace.
It is open Mon to Fri from 10:00 - 16:00hrs and Saturdays from 10:00 – 14:00hrs. Entrance fee is a modest €5 for adults and €2 for children. Information corrcet at time of publish