On August 1, 1929, the Vatican released its first stamps, a definitive series known to collectors as the "Conciliation" issue, referencing the reconciliation between the papacy and the Italian government. It consisted of thirteen regular postage and two special delivery stamps. The seven low values, which depict the papal tiara and crossed keys, are strongly reminiscent of the Pontifical State stamps. The remaining values feature a photo of the then-reigning pontiff, Pius XI, taken by the official papal photographers, Fotografia Federici.
The Conciliation series of stamps was overprinted numerous times, making it one of the most interesting subfields of Vatican philately. On January 10, 1931, the thirty-cent value in the series was issued surcharges in red vermillion by the Vatican Polyglot Press. The new, twenty-five cent value paid several heavily used domestic letter and foreign postcard rates. In 1934 and again in 1937, the six high values of the Conciliation issue were surcharged with new values because of an increase in postage rates on letter mail to Italy.
On May 31, 1933, the Conciliation series was replaced by a set of pictorial definitives featuring Vatican landmarks and Pope Pius XI. Colloquially referred to as the 'Gardens and Medallions' (giardini e medaglioni), this was Vatican City's first bicolor issue. The vignettes were engraved by Austria's master engraver, Ferdinand Schirnbock, and were his last work before he died in 1930. Enrico Federici engraved the frames.
Philatelic scholar Dr. Greg Pirozzi has suggested that the 1933 Gardens and Medallions were actually intended to be the first series released by Poste Vaticane, but Schirnbock's death and the Italian State Printing Office's difficulty printing bicolor issues caused it to be delayed nearly four years.