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Swiss Stamps


Commemoratives of 1900-1924

The first commemorative Swiss stamps appeared in 1900, celebrating the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).  Only three commemorative stamp sets were issued during the period from 1900 to 1924, but as far as philatelic complexity, two of these issues are real whoppers!

True, Switzerland has issued a LOT of definitive stamps for day-to-day usage on letter mail.  But as far as special stamp issues, Switzerland has always been very conservative, and they remain so to this day.  Generally, the annual postage stamp output of Switzerland consists of one Pro Juventute (charity) set, one Pro Patria (charity) set, and maybe a limited number of commemorative stamps.  This makes collecting the modern stamps of a country much more manageable, as opposed to some other countries' output of over a hundred issues every year, with most of them having never been seen by the general public in those countries.


The three commemorative Swiss stamps shown above were issued on July 2, 1900 (Plate I) to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union.

The three designs feature an allegorical representation of the Universal Postal Union.

Plate I

Plate II

Plate III
(Re-engraved)

Plate I

Plate II

Plate III
(Re-engraved)

Plate I

Plate II

Plate III
(Re-engraved)


Each denomination of this set was printed from three different plates.  Examples of ALL of them are shown above.

The issue dates for the stamps from each plate are shown below.  Their significance will be described later.  These UPU commemorative Swiss stamps were valid until December 31, 1900.

  • Plate I : All denominations - July 2, 1900.
  • Plate II : 5 C. - July 17, 1900, 10 C. - July 17, 1900, 25 C. - July 12, 1900.
  • Plate III : 5 C. - August 1, 1900, 10 C. - October 17, 1900, 25 C. - December 14, 1900.

First, lets look at the plate impressions and the perforation methods used for Plate I and Plate II.


Plate I

All of the impressions on the plate are 2.2 mm apart, and all the stamps from this plate were line perforated approximately 11 3/4 x 11 1/2

The line perforation device consists of a single row of teeth.  The perforation process is applied separately to each horizontal and vertical row of the sheet.  With sheets perforated in this manner, the crossing of the horizontal and vertical rows of perforations is irregular.  This results in the corners of each stamp being irregular looking and in the horizontal and vertical perforation gauges being slightly different.


Plate II

All of the impressions on the plate are 2.8 mm apart, and all the stamps from this plate are harrow perforated 11 3/4

In this perforation method, the pins in the perforating machine are arranged in little rectangles or boxes (thus the German term "Kastenzahnung" or "boxed perforation") that are the size of each of the stamps.  With the downward stroke of the apparatus, all the stamps in the sheet are perforated in a single process.  This method results in the corners of each of the stamps being the same and the individual stamps being the same size (perforation gauge).


Though there are some engraving differences between the stamps from these two plates, they can easily be told apart by the appearance of the perforations.

Solid Numerals
Plates I & II

Lined Numerals
(re-engraved) Plate III


The so-called "re-engraved" stamps from Plate III are easy to identify. 


Plate III

All of the stamps from this plate are harrow perforated 11 3/4.  The impressions are usually a little bit clearer, especially in the background lines.

The BIG difference is in the denomination numerals, as shown directly above.  On the stamps from Plate I and Plate II, the colored shading of the numerals is solid.  On the stamps from Plate III, the colored shading is lined, following the shape of the letter.


Now back to the issue dates ...

Stamps from Plate II began to appear about two weeks after those from Plate I were issued.  Thus, the stamps from Plate I are a bit scarcer than those from Plate II. 

The 5 C. denomination stamps from Plate III are common.  The 10 C. denomination stamps from Plate III are very scarce, especially in used condition, as they were only available for sale for a couple of months.

The 25 C. denomination stamps from Plate III are very rare.  Only 3,850 stamps of this denomination were printed, and they were only available for about two weeks before the UPU stamps were withdrawn from sale.  As a result, very few of these 25 C. denomination Swiss stamps were sold, and only a very small number of them were actually ever used on letter mail.


The three commemorative Swiss stamps shown above were issued on August 1, 1919 to celebrate Peace, following the end of World War I.

The three designs depict allegories of peace, as follows:

  • 7.5 C. - Two soldiers shaking hands.
  • 10 C. - Goddess of Peace with a palm branch.
  • 15 C. - Dawn of Peace, above a wounded soldier.

Rathaus zum Äusseren Stand
(English: City Hall of the External State)
Circa 1880



The two Swiss stamps shown above were originally issued on October 9, 1924 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union.

The designs feature the Rathaus zum Äusseren Stand, located in the Old Town section of Bern.  A Youth Parliament was established there in 1731From 1799 until 1847 the building was used by the Federal Assembly of the Helvetic State of Bern, and from then until 1900, it was used by the Bernese Circuit CourtThe building's Empire Hall was the venue for the signing of the first Bernese Constitution in 1831, the signing of the Constitution of the new Federation of Switzerland in 1848, and for the creation of the Universal Postal Union in 1874.  It has been privately owned since the 1930's, and, very sadly, today, it is a restaurant called Restaurant zum Äusseren Stand.

This issue is not as simple as the image above would imply.  For these two stamps, two different perforation processes and three different colors of gum were used, creating 10 major collectible varieties, as listed in the Zumstein catalog.  For anyone that wishes to explore the varieties of this issue further, a PDF of the listing page in the Zumstein Schweiz Liechtenstein catalog is located
HERE.







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Switzerland

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