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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original printing -- Type I
Re-engraved printing -- Type II
Coil Stamps -- Type III
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