The governments of the Swiss Cantons were among the first
adhesive postage stamp issuing entities in the World. Today, the
postage stamp issues of the Cantons of Zurich, Geneva, and Basel
are prized by philatelists and are among the World's greatest rarities.
The Canton of Zurich issued the 4 Rp. and 6 Rp. adhesive definitive postage stamps, shown above, in 1843. They were imperforate and printed in black, over a background network of red lines. There were five types of each denomination.
The first printing (Zu. 1S-2S, Mi. 1I-2I, Sc. #1L1-1L2), shown above, has vertical red lines in the background.
The second printing (Zu. 1W-2W, Mi. 1II-2II, Sc. #1L3-1L4), not shown, has horizontal red lines in the background.
In 1862, reprints were created of these two denominations, which show signs of plate wear and which do not have the red lines at all. The reprints of these stamps are also very expensive.
The pair at the top of the scan (Zu. #3, Mi. #1, Sc. #2L1) shows the 1843 postage stamp issue of Geneva. It is a 10 C. denomination stamp pair, comprised of two 5 C. denomination stamps. These were used as pairs and individually, depending on the rate for the particular piece of mail.
two stamps at the bottom of the scan are from the three varieties
issued between 1845 and 1848.
The 1845 issue has a smaller eagle in the design and is printed in black on yellow green paper (Zu. #5, Mi. #3, Sc. #2L2).
The 1846 issue has a larger eagle (Zu. #6, Mi. #4, Sc. #2L3).
The 1848 issue is identical to the 1846 issue, but it is printed in black on dark green paper (Zu. #7, Mi. #5, Sc. #2L4).
1847, what appears to be the 1846 design, printed in yellow green on
white paper, was actually a cutout from an 1846 stamped envelope which
was affixed to folded letters. This usage was authorized by the postal
authorities. The mint stamped envelopes, with this design, are not terribly
rare, but cut-out used examples and examples on folded letters are rare
and very expensive.
Shown above is the wonderful bi-colored and embossed 1845 issue of Basel. For one of the earliest adhesive postage stamps, the manufacture of the Basel issue involved advanced multi-color printing technology that wouldn't be attempted by other nations for decades. Considered one of the most beautiful stamps in the World, today it is also one of the most expensive classical issues of the World.
original stamps are printed in black, crimson, and blue, and they are
exceedingly rare (Zu. #8, Mi. #1, Sc. #3L1).
Proofs of this postage stamp were printed in black, vermilion, and green and are very rare, as well (Zu. #8I, Mi. #1I, Sc. N/L).
The Scott Catalog lists the stamp in the first scan, above, under Zurich, and the stamps in the second scan, above, under Geneva. The specialized catalogs, however, list them all in a separate section, as Transitional Issues.
These stamps, as a matter of fact, were all issued between 1849 and 1851, and they were in used concurrently with the first issues of the Helvetic Confederation, beginning in 1850.
The stamp shown
above, at the top (Zu. #12, Mi. #4, Sc. #1L5), was issued by the Swiss Canton of Zurich, and is referred to by
specialists as the "Winterthur" Issue.
The stamps shown above, at the bottom (Zu. # 9-11, Mi. #1-3, Sc. #2L5-7) were all issued by the Swiss Canton of Geneva.
As they are bi-colored, like the 1850-1854 stamps of the Helvetic Confederation, and as they feature the Helvetic Confederation's arms, it is rational that they would be referred to as Transitional Issues.
SPECIAL NOTE: As of 2018, I only have one of the stamps shown on this page in my Swiss collection, and it is one of the most common Zurich varieties. These scans were located on the Internet and modified to be presentable here. The combined Scott Catalog value of the varieties shown here is about $200,000.00, which is completely out-of-reach for the average stamp collector.
Nice appearing REPAIRED examples can be acquired for much less though, for the collector with just a few thousand dollars to spend!
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Swiss Canton Issues 1843-1850