Paper Heritage - Switzerland : The Definitives 1934 - 1950

Not the easiest of issues, particularly in the case of the 1936 definitives. I shall start with some definitions and descriptions of Types:

GUM : Several of the definitives of 1936 - c.1942 exist with two gums, smooth gum and grilled gum. The grill is a criss-cross of tiny dots, clearly visible when the gum is inspected parallel to the light. The pressure applied to the gum was sufficient for the paper beneath it to become ' grilled ' also, permitting the collection of both gum types on used stamps.
I have used the abbreviations ' sm ' for smooth gum and ' gr ' for grilled gum in the table of the 1936- definitive issue. I have used Michel numbers in this article. Michel uses the letter ' y' to denote stamps with smooth gum and the letter ' z ' for stamps with grilled gum.

TETE-BECHE pairs : A pair of the same stamps, joined together, one inverted. In the case of the stamps covered by this article, all tete-beche pairs are horizontal pairs. Michel numbers tete-beche pairs with the prefix ' K ' (for Kehrdruck), although please note that interpanneau pairs in tete-beche format (see below) are also prefixed ' K '.

INTERPANNEAU PAIRS (Gutter Pairs) : These come in two main styles:
. . . . Double Gutters, giving three lines of perforation between the stamps
. . . . Single Gutter, with only a single ' field ' between the stamps.
For the railway issues in question, all the double gutters have blank fields, whilst all the single gutters have two or three lines of vertical crosses down the gutter. The number of vertical lines of crosses are not a distinguishing feature, all the stamps listed existing only in one format or the other. In the 1934 definitives, the stamps either side of the gutter are the same way up; in the 1936-48 definitves, the stamps either side of the gutter are tete-beche.

OFFICIAL STAMPS: These come in three forms :
** Perforated with a cross in this shape ( + ) made of nine holes ( 5x5, with the central hole common to the horizontal and vertical line of holes ). Some issues have smaller holes, others larger holes, but this is not a distinguishing feature for the railway issues, each of which only exists in one format, so I have not elaborated upon this aspect.
** Overprinted with a cross
** Overrpintd diagonally ' Officiel '
Note: Michel prefixes Official Stamps with the letter ' D ' (Dienstmarken)

COIL STAMPS : Sometimes identifiable from the front, due to clipped perforations, but this is an uncertain test ! Unique to the coil stamps, however, is that there is a control number on the gum of every fifth stamp, sometimes partially visible on used copies, incidentally. To my (limited !!) knowledge, the control consists of a letter followed by 4 numerals; some specialist collectors seek to acquire all the different prefix letters which exist for each value, although some of these letters are very rare.

BOOKLETS : Some of the stamps listed in this article are found in booklets, but I do not have the details. In fact, none of the stamps covered in this article occur in combination (se-tenant) with a different stamp, with the sole exception of the 1934 NABA miniature sheet (illustrated later in this article).


Switzerland 1934

Above 1934 Issue (left to right): 10c tete-beche pair, 20c double gutter interpanneau pair, 30c perforated with a cross (for official use)

The 1934 Definitives :

[ . . } 10c Violet (Mi. 272)
[ . . } - ditto - pair with 'double' gutter (Mi. WZ 32)
[ . . } - ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K. 29)
[ . . } - ditto - perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D. 3)

[ . . } 20c Red (Mi. 274)
[ . . } - ditto - pair with 'double' gutter (Mi. WZ 34)
[ . . } - ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K. 31) [ . . } - ditto - perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D. 5)

[ . . } 30c Blue (Mi. 276)
[ . . } - ditto - perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D. 7)

Switzerland 1934 NABA sheet

[ . . ] 1934 Naba Miniature Sheet (four values 5c, 10c, 15c, 20c) (Mi. Block 1)

I have also seen the 5c, 10c, 15c and 20c values from this set with a private overprint ' Phil. Ver. Bern / 1885 - 1935 ', produced for the 50th anniversary of the Berne Philatelic Society.


The 1936 Definitives (and later issues to 1948 - in the 1936 designs):

The 1936 stamps are of broadly similar landscape scenes to the 1934 set, but they are completely new designs. The quickest check, if you are in any doubt, is in the positions of the figures of value. Within the 1936 issue, however, there are distinctly different dies for both the 10c Chillon Castle and 20c St. Gotthard Railway stamps.

Design Variations of the 10c and 20c :
Switzerland 1936 10c Violet

Above: Left : 1936 1c Type I (vertical lines of shading only in ' 0 ' of ' 10 ' . . . Right : Type II (with cross hatching in the lower portion of the ' 0 ', hard to see in this scan), in this example overprinted with a cross (for official use).

The 1936 10c Violet : There are two distinct dies of the 10c violet, Type I having only vertical lines of shading inside the ' 0 ' of ' 10 ' and Type II having both vertical and diagonal lines of shading within the ' 0 '.
Note: The later stamps in this design, in brown and in green, were all in a further redrawn state, Type III, with the inside of the ' 0 ' different again, but this is the only Type in which these later stamps exist, so I have not illustrated Type III in close detail.

Switzerland 1936 20c Red

Above : 1936 20c : Left stamp : Type I with small bollards at the roadside . . Centre stamp : Type II with larger bollards and brickwork of the tunnel arch re-engraved with differences . . Right stamp : Type I with clear signs of a worn plate, especially to the tunnel arch.

The 1936 20c Red : There are also two types for the 20c, different in many small details. Type I has delicately drawn, very short, roadside bollards, particularly true for the six nearest bollards, located beneath the right-hand catenary frame for the overhead electric wires.
The plate for the 20c became very worn, to the point where the brickwork above the tunnel portal lost all its detail. This worn plate, incidentally, is recognized by S.G. as worthy of a catalogue number of its own.
When the stamp was re-engraved, the bollards, especially the six already mentioned, were made noticeably taller and thicker in this, the Type II, than on the original issue, and the brickwork pattern of the tunnel portal was not faithfully copied. There are other smaller design differences too.

Switzerland - various 10c

Above: Left : 10c Brown showing crosses in gutter . . Centre : 10c in the Red-brown (sometimes called Orange-brown . . Right : Coil number ( B 0550 ) - this example is on the back of the 10c Green in the same design.

In the table below, which is for the 1936-48 definitives only, I have given Michel numbers in all the spaces where a stamp exists, barring any mistakes on my part (and mistakes are very easy to make here !!). The vertical columns are as follows:

Column 1 : Stamp Description (sm = smooth gum, gr = grilled gum; for Types I and II, see above)
Column 2 : The normal sheet stamp
Column 3 : Double gutter pair (stamps are inverted against each other as well)
Column 4 : Single gutter pair (with 2 or 3 columns of crosses in the gutter)
Column 5 : Tete-beche pair
Column 6 : Stamp perforated with a cross ( + )
Column 7 : Stamp overprinted with a cross ( + )
Column 8 : Stamp overprinted ' Officiel '
Column 9 : Stamps which exist with coil numbers on the gum are marked ' yes '

1936-48 definitives Basic Stamp (Mi. numbers) Double gutter pair Single gutter pr. tete-beche pair Perf'd with a + Optd with + Optd Officiel Coil
10c Type I sm 299 y I KZ 10 y I K 33 y I D 21 I y
10c Type I gr 299 z I KZ 10 z I K 33 z I D.21 I z
10c TypeII sm 299 y II KZ10 y II K33 y II D.21 IIy* D.30 y yes
10c Type II gr 299 z II KZ10 z II K33 z II D.21 II z D.30 z
20c Type I sm 301 y I
20c Type I gr 301 z I D.23 I z
20c TypeII sm 301 y II KZ 11 y K 34 y D.23 II y
20c Type II gr 301 z II KZ 11 z K 34 z
30c smooth 303 y D.25 y D.34 y D.52 yes
30c grilled 303 z D.25 z D.34 z
10c Brown sm 363a y KZ 13a K 36 a D.48 a yes
10c Brown gr 36a z
10c red-brn. 363b (smooth) KZ 13 b K 36 b D.48 b yes
10c Green 501 ** KZ 15 K 39 yes
30c grn.-blue 504 *** yes
Basic Stamp (Mi. numbers) Double gutter pair Single gutter pr. tete-beche pair Perf'd with a + Optd with + Optd Officiel Coil
* Rare stamp - only 50 printed.

** The Katcher catalogue also list this stamp 'on oily paper' (Kat. 256 O)

*** There are three shades of this stamp, Mi. 303 and two new shades around 1948, both covered by Mi. 504. The original stamp (Mi. 303) is ultramarine. The two stamps covered by a single number (Mi. 504) are a slightly greenish blue shade, more noticeably with a green tinge when compared to the ultramarine, and a Prussian Blue which is a much greener blue. This last stamp can be identified by the fact that the gum is yellower than on the ultramarine or greenish-blue. The Katcher catalogue does distinguish these two 1948 shades, as Kat.289 (greenish-blue) and Kat. 289c (Prussian blue).
The coil stamp for the 30c is on the greenish-blue shade, not the Prussian Blue.

Switzerland 1936 30c

Above: The 1936 30c Ultramarine (left) . . . the 1948 greenish-blue (centre) . . . . the 1948 Prussian Blue (right)
The scanned colours have not quite come out true. Both the centre stamp and the right-hand stamp should appear a little more green


The 1950 Landscape Designs.

Thi is an attractive set of eleven stamps, of which the 5c, 10c, 25c, 40c and 60c are indisputably of railway interest.
The 15c shows snow being blown out of the top of a snow- plough, with a rather curious vehicle at the left of the design. This may well be just a road vehicle, possibly a P.T.T. (Swiss post office) vehicle, but this stamp does appear in some railway catalogues. Can anyone give a definitive answer to this, please?
The 50c show a mountain cable-car (hanging from wires). Whether this fits your collecting criteria for railways is entirely a decision for you! I have included both the 15c and 50c in the listing below, to suit all tastes.

Switzerland 1950 Landscapes

Above : (apologies for the orientation!) : One of the 1950 Landscapes interpanneau pairs, this example having also the Plate Number ( Plate 1 ), between the crosses.

[ ... ] 5c Orange (Mi. 530)
[ ... ] - ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K41)
[ ... ] - ditto -, interpanneau pair (Mi. KZ 17)
[ ... ] - ditto - yellow-orange* (coil stamp, every fifth stamp with number on gum)
[ ... ] 5c Orange optd Officiel (Mi. D. 64)

[ ... ] 10c Yellow-green (Mi. 531)
[ ... ] - ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K42)
[ ... ] - ditto - interpanneau pair (Mi. KZ 18)
[ ... ] - ditto - olive-green* (coil stamp, every fifth stamp with number on gum)
[ ... ] 10c Yellow-green optd Officiel (Mi. D. 65)

[ ... ] 15c Turqoise (Mi. 532)
[ ... ] 15c Turquoise optd Officiel (Mi. D. 66)

[ ... ] 25c Scarlet (Mi. 534)
[ ... ] - ditto - Deep scarlet* (coil stamp, every fifth stamp with number on gum)
[ ... ] Scarlet optd Officiel (Mi. D. 68)

[ ... ] 40c Blue (Mi. 537)
[ ... ] - ditto - Blackish-blue* (coil stamp, every fifth stamp with number on gum)
[ ... ] 40c Blue optd Officiel (Mi. D. 71)

[ ... ] 50c Grey (Mi. 538)
[ ... ] 50c Grey optd Officiel (Mi. D. 72)

[ ... ] 60c Blue-green (Mi. 539)
[ ... ] 60c Blue-green optd Officiel (Mi. D. 73)

* Notes on 1950 Coils :
As with previous coil stamps, there is a number on the back of every fifth stamp. These are usually collected as singles, in a pair or in a strip/5. I am not convinced that one can always identify these stamps by the variation in colour attributed to them.

Switzerland 1950 Landscapes coil

Above: A pair of the 1950 Landscape 10c with coil number (reading vertically down).

Most of the basic stamps listed in this article were also overprinted for use in the Geneva offices of the League of Nations and, later, the United Nations and its various agencies. At the time of writing, September 2004, I am planning an article on these issues, when time permits.

As usual, please contact me to advise of any errors or oversights.


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