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Swiss Stamps

Technology and Landscape

Definitives of 1949

A new definitive series of Swiss stamps, with a theme of Technology and Landscapes, was issued on August 1, 1949.

The originally issued designs of this beautifully engraved set of stamps are as follows:

  • 03 C. - High tension conductors.
  • 05 C. - Viaducts near St. Gallen.
  • 10 C. - Mountain railway at Rochers de Naye.
  • 15 C. - Rotary snow plow.
  • 20 C. - Reservoir at Grimsel.
  • 25 C. - (Type II) Dam at Lake Lucerne near Melide
  • 30 C. - Poser station on Lake Geneva at Verbois.
  • 35 C. - Alpine postal road in Val d'Anniviers.
  • 40 C. - Rhine harbor at Basel.
  • 50 C. - Aerial tramway from Schwägalp at Säntis.
  • 60 C. - Railway viaduct near Filisur.
  • 70 C. - Triangulation tower at Finsteraarhorn.

All of the denominations were issued in sheets of 50 stamps, but they were primarily intended for dispensation in vending machines.

The 5 C., 10 C., and 20 C. denominations were each issued in booklets containing 10 panes of 8 stamps. Unexploded booklets are very expensive. As these Swiss stamps were printed in a special sheet format (nine vertical rows) for use in creating booklet panes, they all exist in tête-bêche and inter-space pairs.

The 5 C., 10 C., 20 C. (Type III), and 40 C. denominations were also issued in coils. With the exception of the 20 C., which was of a different type, the only way to tell these apart from the sheet stamps is by having examples with a control number on the back of the stamp. In the coil rolls, the back of every fifth stamp had a control number printed on it. These control numbers were printed on top of the gum, so there is no way to tell used coil stamps, that have been soaked off envelopes, apart from the sheet stamps. Most of the control number examples from this set are pretty expensive.

An Accidental RARITY

The RARE 20 C. first printing (the so-called Type I) is shown at the top of the image above. At the bottom left is the originally issued 20 C. (Type II), and at the bottom right is the originally issued 20 C. coil stamp (Type III).

One might think ..... How could a 20 C. first class letter-rate postage stamp issued in 1949 be the RAREST Swiss stamp of the latter 20th Century? Here's how .....

After the printing of the 20 C. denomination Swiss stamps had commenced, it was discovered that the original die had been too lightly engraved, which caused printing difficulties and loss of the fine details, and the original die was re-engraved to strengthen the design. The re-engraving caused a couple small differences in the printed stamps, which went unnoticed at the time. This re-engraving (the so-called type II) was completed before the new stamps were issued, and it was these Type II stamps that were actually issued on August 1, 1949.

The stamps printed from the original engraving were released to some post offices between December 1949 and March 1950. It wasn't until sometime in 1951 that the differences between stamps from the original engraving and from the re-engraving were noticed by collectors. By this time, all the stocks of the original engraving had been sold and used for postage.

It is estimated that about 900,000 stamps of the first printing (Type I) were produced, before printing was stopped and the die was re-engraved. Because they were considered common definitive stamps at the time, many were probably thrown away, so the survival rate of the Type I stamps is estimated to be less than 1% of the original volume issued. Conversely, it is estimated that the total issue of the re-engraved (Type II) stamps was about 1.5 billion.

Today, a MINT NH example of the Type I stamp is about $4,000 and a USED example is about $70. The Type II stamps have very minimal value.

Details of the Three 20 C. Denomination Types

Original printing -- Type I

  • Three horizontal lines between the rock in the foreground and the edge of the mountain.
  • No baseline on the house.
  • No diagonal lines above the "20" and the "H" of "Helvetia".

Re-engraved printing -- Type II

  • Two horizontal lines between the rock and the edge of the mountain.
  • Baseline on the house.
  • Heavy diagonal lines above the "20" and the "H".

Coil Stamps -- Type III

  • Two horizontal lines between the rock and the edge of the mountain.
  • Baseline on the house.
  • Fewer diagonal lines above the "20" and the "H".
  • Lines at the left do not touch the rock.

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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Technology and Landscape Definitives of 1949