Collectible Swiss Stamps

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Postage stamps in Switzerland have been issued at both the federal and Canton levels since as early as 1843. Despite its relatively small size, the country’s long history makes developing a Swiss stamp collection a thoroughly rewarding hobby for philatelists of all levels.

Whether you want to begin collecting Swiss stamps, or are hunting for an elusive issue to take your collection to the next level, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. Our rare stamp auctions are open to anyone and regularly include both new and old issues from Switzerland and beyond. We also have an online store and convenient “buy it now” options that remove the stress of bidding entirely.

Swiss Cantonal Stamps

Swiss stamp production began at the Cantonal level (the Swiss administrative equivalent to America’s states). The 4 and 6 rappen stamps, first issued by the Zürich Canton on March 3, 1843, are generally thought to be the second stamps ever produced after Britain’s Penny Black. Though popular, their distribution was limited to such a small area. This makes these stamps quite rare and valuable today.

Following Zürich’s example, the Geneva Canton introduced its own stamp in October, 1843. Like the Zürich 4 and 6, the Double Geneva could be used to mail a letter either locally or within the Canton. Its two-faced design was intended to be cut in half for use within a given municipality. A total of no more than 6,000 Double Genevas were printed, and few survive today. As a result, they have been known to fetch upwards of $35,000 at auction.

Another rare stamp from Switzerland is the Basel Dove, issued for use in the Basel Canton in 1845 and notable for being the first-ever three color stamp. At a value of 2.5 rappen, the Dove was the only stamp ever produced in Basel, with a total of 41,480 made before its discontinuation in 1848.

Federal Swiss Stamps

Postage rates in Switzerland were standardized with the founding of the federal state on October 12, 1848. Not long after that, the country began producing nationwide stamps. Among the most famous of these is the Sealed Helvetia series, featuring an allegorical depiction of Helvetia, the female personification of the Swiss national spirit.

The first issue of Sealed Helvetias included important innovations, such as a thin thread running through the paper designed to prevent counterfeiting. Other definitive stamps over the years have included depictions of the legend of William Tell along with many stamps celebrating the beauty of the country’s alpine setting.

Swiss Stamp Outlook

Despite the rich history of Swiss philately, there’s no denying that interest in the country has waned in recent years. That being said, stamp collecting will always be an intensely personal hobby and there is no reason to dissuade anyone from beginning a collection of rare Swiss stamps. In fact, it may actually be beneficial to start collecting now while prices are lower. One of the best ways to begin is with the Zumstein catalogue, which lists over 6,000 varieties of the country’s major issues.