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Swiss Stamps

Definitives of 1850-1852

(Arms & Posthorn Type)



The first Swiss stamps for the newly established Confederation of Switzerland began appearing during 1850. 


The 2.5 Rp., 5 Rp., and 10 Rp. denomination bi-colored (Black and Dark Orange Red) stamps were all printed on wove paper of various colors.  The 15 Rp. denomination was printed in Red (shades) on white, wove paper.  Their central vignettes featured a post horn above the Swiss coat of arms.

There are four classes of these new stamps, based on established delivery zones from the point of origin of the letter.

The stamp denominations inscribed "ORTS-POST" (German) and "POSTE LOCALE" (French) were for LOCAL POSTAGE within the major Swiss cities.

The stamp denominations inscribed "RAYON" (French) and a Roman Numeral were designated for postal delivery zones outside the major Swiss cities.  The way the word "RAYON" is used in this context, in French, means "DISTANCE".

The Swiss, during this period referred to distances in way-hours, with one way-hour being equivalent to about 4.8 kilometers or about 3 miles, thus ....

  • Rayon I - 5 Rappen - paid standard letter postage up to 10 way-hours or about 30 miles.
  • Rayon II - 10 Rappen - paid standard letter postage up to 25 way-hours or about 75 miles.
  • Rayon III - 15 Rappen - paid standard letter postage up to 40 way-hours or about 120 miles.

Postage rates for heavier letters or those traveling distances greater than 120 miles would, of course, need to be paid by multiple stamps.


The two 2.5 Rp. denomination LOCAL POSTAGE definitive Swiss stamps, shown above were issued on April 5, 1850

Both of these stamps have a black frame line around the cross, and they are printed on white, wove paper.

The printers had a serious problem with the positioning of the black frame lines around the crosses on these stamps, so the decision was made to remove them.

Occasionally, the frame lines were not completely removed from the plates, so stamps showing partial frame lines do exist.


The LOCAL POSTAGE definitive Swiss stamp, inscribed "ORTS-POST", shown above, at the left, began appearing, without the black frame lines around the cross, sometime during June 1850.

This variety is very scarce, being worth about twice the price of the same stamp with the black frame lines around the cross.

The LOCAL POSTAGE definitive Swiss stamp, inscribed "POSTE LOCALE", shown above, at the right, began appearing, without the black frame lines around the cross, sometime during April 1851.

This variety is extremely rare, with very few authenticated examples being known.


The two 5 Rp. denomination RAYON I definitive Swiss stamps, shown above were issued on October 1, 1850.  Both of these stamps are printed on blue (shades), wove paper

The variety with the black frame lines around the cross is shown above, at the left.  This variety is scarce, but it is readily obtainable, at about three times the cost of the variety without the black frame lines.

The variety without the black frame lines around the cross is shown above, at the right.  This variety is common.


On March 30, 1851, the 5 Rp. denomination RAYON I definitive stamps were re-issued in Prussian Blue (shades) and Orange Red, and they were printed on white, wove paper

The variety with the black frame lines around the cross does exist.  This variety, with complete frame lines, is exceedingly rare, and very few authenticated examples are known.

The stamp shown above, at the left, is a sub-variety with
partial black frame lines around the cross, resulting from the incomplete erasure of the frame lines from the plate.  This particular sub-variety sells for only a fraction of the price of the variety with complete frame lines around the cross. 

The variety without the black frame lines around the cross is shown above, at the right.  This variety is common.


The two 10 Rp. denomination RAYON II definitive Swiss stamps shown above were issued on October 1, 1850.  Both of these stamps are printed on Yellowish (shades), wove paper

The variety with the black frame lines around the cross is shown above, at the left.  This variety, with complete frame lines, is exceedingly rare, with only a couple authenticated examples being known.

There is sub-variety with
partial black frame lines around the cross, resulting from the incomplete erasure of the frame lines from the plate.  This particular sub-variety sells for only a fraction of the price of the variety with complete frame lines around the cross.

The variety without the black frame lines around the cross is shown above, at the right.  This variety is common, though there are some expensive paper shades associated with this particular issue.


The two RAYON III definitive Swiss stamps shown above were issued on January 1, 1852.  Both of these stamps are printed in Red (shades) on white, wove paper.

The stamp on the left is denominated in Rappen, featuring small denomination numerals and denomination abbreviation letters in the lower ornaments.

The stamp on the right is denominated in Centimes, featuring small denomination numerals and denomination abbreviation letters in the lower ornaments.


The 15 Rp. denomination RAYON III definitive Swiss stamp shown above was re-issued on April 27, 1852.  This re-issued stamp features large denomination numerals in the lower left ornament.





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Remember that the lots on most of the European eBay sites are priced in EUROS.  The lots on the Switzerland eBay site are priced in SWISS FRANCS.  The Swiss Franc is roughly equivalent to the US Dollar.  Shipping charges may be more, and the lots may take longer to arrive.  Also, make sure the foreign seller ships to your country, before bidding on or buying his lot.










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Definitives of 1850-1852 (Arms & Posthorn Type)






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