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Swiss Canton Issues


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.

Canton of Zurich

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.

Canton of Geneva

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.

The 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).

In 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.

Canton of Basel

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.

The 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).

Swiss Canton

Transitional Issues

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!

eBay Auction and Store Links


The following links feature category-focused affiliated seller listings on various eBay sites worldwide. They may enable visitors to shop for and to buy specific items for the particular collecting subject they've just read about. 

The affiliated eBay seller auction lots provided by eBay, Inc. are not the responsibility of the management of this website.  On high priced material, make sure the lots you are buying are properly authenticated.

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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Swiss Canton Issues 1843-1850