Marco Polo was born in
Venice in 1254. His father and uncle were merchants. In 1260 they
traveled by land to China, where they remained in Kaifeng the eastern
capital of the Mongol emperor, Kublai Kahn until 1269. Two years later
they returned to China taking Marco with them and arriving at Shang
Tu, China in 1275.
Marco Polo entered diplomatic corps of Kublai Kahn and
carried out missions throughout the empire, even serving as governor
of Yangchow. In 1292 he served as an escort for a Chinese princess on
a trip to Iran. Once that mission was completed Marco and his family
continued on to Venice where they arrived in 1295.
The map that provides the background of the souvenir
sheet is Mappa Monde o Vero Carta Generale del Globo Terestre
Representato in due Planisferi E nuouamente coretta e in piu parte
Aumentata secondo le Relatione piu recente, prepared by Nicholas
Sanson of Abbeville (1600-1667), engraved by Gio. Lhuilier and
published in 1684 by Gio. Iacomo de Rossi. The
route of the Polos on their journey to Iran and then to Venice is
traced in red on the map.
The image of Marco Polo on the stamp on the sheet is
from the first printed edition of Il Milione, Marco Polo’s account of
his twenty-five years in Asia. Marco Polo died in 1324.
See the other stamps that were issued by the Vatican
with this souvenir sheet by