Switzerland : Swiss Stamps : The Definitives 1934-1950 : Railways

At first sight, the 1934-48 small landscape designs seem somewhat uninteresting. However, the sheet formats employed, re-drawn designs, changes in paper and the varied ways that they were adapted for official use provides much variety for the collector to explore.

Switzerland Definitive stamps 1934 1936

General Notes on the 1930s/1940s definitives.
Paper & Gum : Paper: Two basic papers were used for the issues described below, Granite Paper and standard non-Granite paper. None of the stamps exist on more than one paper but some of the stamps on non-Granite paper are found both with and without grilling of the gum.
Note: Whilst it is not necessary for these issues to identify the paper employed, Granite Paper displays small flecks of thread embedded in the paper when viewed under a magnifying glass.

Gum: The grill is a criss-cross of tiny dots applied to the back of the stamps. The pressure applied to the gum was sufficient for the paper beneath it to become 'grilled' also, leaving the grilling visible even on used stamps. For those familiar with grills in the centre of early American stamps, the grill on Swiss stamps is not generally as heavy nor as immediately obvious, but can be observed when the back of the stamp is held almost parallel to the light. The grill covers all of the stamp, not just the central portion.

Catalogue Numbering : SG numbers were changed in the early part of this century for the 1936-42 definitives, but both old and new numbers are a complex mixture incorporating small and large sub-letters. Furthermore, to avoid re-numbering a whole section of the catalogue, very similar numbers were inevitably used for re-numbering, leading at times to confusion over whether a listing follows the old or new numbering. We have therefore used Michel numbers in this article. Note that Michel uses the suffix 'y' to denote stamps with smooth gum and 'z' for stamps with grilled gum.

Switzerland Definitive stamps 1934 1936 tÍte-bÍche & interpanneau pairs Switzerland Definitive stamps 1934 1936 tÍte-bÍche & interpanneau pairs

TÍte-bÍche pairs : In the case of the stamps covered by this article, all tÍte-bÍche pairs are horizontal. Michel numbers tÍte-bÍche pairs with the prefix 'K' (German: Kehrdruck), this prefix applying both to two stamps joined directly tÍte-bÍche and also to those arranged tÍte-bÍche across interpanneau margins. Note, though, that the 1934 issue inter-panneau pairs, as with the 20c pair shown above, are NOT arranged tÍte-bÍche. The 1936-48 small landscapes and 1949/50 large landscapes, however, are arranged tÍte-bÍche across the gutter.

Interpanneau Pairs (Gutter Pairs) : These come in two main styles:
. . . . Double Gutters, with three lines of perforation, and hence two gutter margins, 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 rows of crosses down the gutter.

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

Overprinted with a cross

Overprinted diagonally ' Officiel '
Note: Michel prefixes Official Stamps with the letter 'D' (Dienstmarken)

Coil Stamps: These are 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 top of the gum of every fifth stamp, which is often partially visible on used examples. Controls that we have seen consist of one letter followed by four numerals.

Urmarken Schweiz 1934 Eisenbahnmotiv Switzerland Definitive stamps 1934 Railway

Booklets : Whilst some of the stamps listed in this article are found in booklets, there are no railway-related booklet panes which combine two different values se-tenant. However, the 1934 NABA miniature sheet (illustrated later in this article) does have se-tenant combinations, but, due to the high value of these miniature sheets, it would be unusual to encounter any se-tenant examples extracted from one. A typical booklet pane and an outer cover of its booklet are shown above; note the two small staple holes in the margin.
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Urmarken Schweiz 1934 Eisenbahnmotiv Switzerland Definitive stamps 1934 Railway

The 1934 Definitives : All the stamps are on Granite Paper with Grilled Gum.

10c Violet (Mi. 272) [ . ]
- ditto - Booklet Pane/6 [ . ]
- ditto - pair with 'double' gutter (Mi. WZ 32) [ . ]
- ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K.29) [ . ]

20c Red (Mi. 274)
- ditto - Booklet Pane/6 [ . ]
- ditto - pair with 'double' gutter (Mi. WZ 34) [ . ]
- ditto - tete-beche pair (Mi. K.31) [ . ]

30c Blue (Mi. 276) [ . ]

Official Stamps : Perforated with a nine-hole 'Swiss' cross:
10c Violet perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D.3) [ . ]
20c Red perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D.5) [ . ]
30c Blue perforated with a cross ( + ) (Mi. D.7) [ . ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz 1934 NABA sheet Swiss stamps Eisenbahnmotiv Switzerland Railway

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

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1935 NABA Philatelische Verein Bern 1885-1935 Eisenbahnmotiv Railway

Above: Private overprints on 1934 designs for the 50th Anniversary of the Bern(e) Philatelic Club, without postal validity.

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland Coil Stamps

Coil Stamps : As mentioned in the introduction, these are found on several of the lower values of definitives from 1936 and a typical example is shown above.
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The 1936 Definitives (and later issues to 1948 - in the 1936 designs):

The 1936 stamps show the same geographical features as the 1934 set, but they are completely new designs. The most obvious difference is in the positioning of the figures of value but many other details have been altered. Both 1936 10c and 20c values were also reissued in a slightly redrawn state, known as Type II, and this coincided with their ebing printed in new sheet formats.

Further down, we have provided a table for the 1936-1948 definitives by Michel specialized numbers and this table may be used as an alternative check-list. In our standard 'green' listings, for stamps issued between 1936 and 1939, we have provided check-boxes as follows:
[ sm ] for stamps with smooth gum
[ gr ] for stamps with grilled gum

All the remaining stamps in this article are on normal Non-Granite Paper.

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 10c Urmarke Schloss Chateau Chillon

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 10c Urmarke Types Typen

The lower scans show the two types of the 10c: The original issue (Type I) has the '0' of '10' shaded using only vertical lines. The stamp was later re-drawn with two lines of diagonal cross-hatching added within the '0' (Type II).
Note: Two later stamps in this design, a 10c in brown and a 10c in green, were both in a further redrawn state, Type III, with the inside of the '0' different again, but, as they only exist in this one state, no detailed examination is needed.

For ease of reference, we shall list the 1936-1938 issues, grouped by face value.

1936-38 10c Violet : Chillon Castle

Type I . No cross hatching in '0'
10c Violet [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Booklet Pane/6 [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Plain double-gutter interpanneau pair [ sm ] [ gr ]

The 10c violet can be found from a worn plate in which the wall of the castle appears white.

Official:
10c Violet perforated with a cross (for official use) [ sm ] [ gr ]

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 10c Urmarke Schloss Chateau Chillon
Above: Additional formats only found in Type II

Type II . With cross hatching in '0'
10c Violet [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Booklet Pane/6 [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ sm ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Single gutter interpanneau pair with patterned field (crosses) [ sm ] [ gr ]

Official:
10c Violet perforated with a cross (for official use) [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Perforated Cross DOUBLE (rare) [ ?gum? ]

10c Violet overprinted with a cross (for official use) [ sm ] [ gr ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 20c Urmarke Gotthard Railway
1936 and 1937 issues of the 20c Gotthard Railway.

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 20c Urmarke Types Typen Gotthard Railway

Above: Type I, Type I worn plate, Type II. Note the lack of detail on the brickwork above the tunnel entrance on the middle stamp, printed from a worn plate. This wear probably led to the decision to redraw the stamp. Below are detail scans of the first and third stamps above.

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 20c Urmarke Types Typen Gotthard Railway

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 20c Urmarke Types Typen Gotthard Railway Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 20c Urmarke Types Typen Gotthard Railway

Brickwork : Spacing and angles of lines of shading in the first row of bricks above the tunnel mouth differs in the two printings.
Bollards marking the edge of the road : Small in Type I, Thicker and Higher in Type II.

1936-38 20c Red : Gotthard Railway

Type I . Small bollards at road edge
20c Red [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Worn Plate (scarce) [ gr ]

Official:
20c Red perforated with a cross (for official use) [ gr ]

Type II . Larger bollards at road edge
20c Red [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Booklet Pane/6 [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Plain double-gutter interpanneau pair [ sm ] [ gr ]

Official:
20c Red perforated with a cross (for official use) [ sm ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 30c Urmarke Rheinfall

The 30c of 1936 depicts Rheinfall and, in the background, a railway bridge. The 1936 issue is in a slightly pale ultramarine, but the stamp came out again in 1948, this time in turquoise-green. There is also an intermediate colour of greenish-blue which we consider to be a colour shade of the 1936 issue. The first three stamps in the scan above show the 1936 30c in ultramarine, the greenish-blue shade of this stamp and the 1948 turquoise-green 30c respectively, but the scanner has failed to reproduce accurately what are quite significantly different colours.

1936 and later : 30c 'Blue' : Rheinfall

1936 30c. Ultramarine.
30c Ultramarine : Rheinfall [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ sm ]

30c Greenish-Blue [ . ]

The 1948 30c turquoise-green is listed further down.

Official:
30c Ultramarine : Perforated with a cross (for official use) [ sm ] [ gr ]

30c Ultramarine : Overprinted with a cross (for official use) [ sm ] [ gr ]

30c Ultramarine : Overprinted 'Officiel' diagonally [ sm ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 10c Urmarke Chateau Chillon Castle

1939 : 10c Chillon Castle in Chocolate-Brown

10c Chocolate-Brown : Chillon Castle [ sm ] [ gr ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ sm ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ sm ]
- ditto - Single gutter interpanneau pair with patterned field (crosses) [ sm ]

Official:
10c Chocolate-Brown : Chillon Castle overprinted 'Officiel' [ sm ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1936 10c Urmarke Schloss Chillon

1942 : 10c Chillon Castle in Orange-Brown. Smooth Gum only.

10c Orange-Brown : Chillon Castle [ . ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ . ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ . ]
- ditto - Single gutter interpanneau pair with patterned field (crosses) [ . ]

Official:
10c Orange-Brown : Chillon Castle overprinted 'Officiel' [ . ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1948 10c Green Urmarke Chateau Chillon Castle

1948 : 10c Chillon Castle in Green. Smooth Gum only.

10c Green : Chillon Castle [ . ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ . ]
- ditto - TÍte-BÍche Pair [ . ]
- ditto - Single gutter interpanneau pair with patterned field (crosses) [ . ]

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Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1948 10c Green Urmarke Chateau Chillon Castle

This is the same stamp as the third stamp shown in the row of 1936 30c stamps higher up, now edited to what appears, on our screen at least, to be a much closer representation of the colour of the 1948 printing.

1948 : 30c Rheinfall in Turqoise-Green. Smooth Gum only.

30c Turquoise-Green : Rheinfall [ . ]
- ditto - Coil Stamp numbered on the back [ . ]

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Specialized Chart for the 1936-1948 Definitives including Gum Types.

In the table below, which is for the 1936-48 definitives only, we have given Michel numbers in all the spaces where a stamp exists. The vertical columns are as follows:

Column 1 : Stamp Description (sm = smooth gum, gr = grilled gum; for explanation of Types I and II, see higher up)
Column 2 : The normal sheet stamp
Column 3 : Double gutter interpanneau pair
Column 4 : Single gutter pair (with patterns of crosses in the intervening fields)
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. tÍte-bÍche 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 Type II 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 Type II 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 chocol. sm 363a y KZ 13a K 36 a D.48 a yes
10c chocol. gr 363a z
10c Or.-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)

*** As well as shades of the 30c of 1936 (Mi. 303, ultramarine to greenish-blue), there are also lighter and darker shades of the turquoise-green of 1948, Michel 504, sometimes approaching turquoise-blue / Prussian 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.

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The 1950 Landscape Designs.

Two stamps in this set are included in only some of the railway catalogues, the 15c snow-plough and 50c cable-car designs. We have chosen to include the 15c snow-plough which may possibly be railway. In the case of the cable-car, we have listed it but provided no scans.

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1949/1950 Landschaften Urmarken Landscape series railways

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1949/1950 Landschaften Urmarken Landscape series railways

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1949/1950 Landschaften Urmarken Landscape series railways

1949/50 : Landscape Definitives : Postage & Officials

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) [ . ]

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) [ . ]

15c Turqoise (Mi. 532) [ . ]

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

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

50c Grey (Mi. 538) [ . ]

60c Blue-green (Mi. 539) [ . ]

1949/50 Landscapes overprinted Officiel
5c Orange optd Officiel (Mi. D.64) [ . ]
10c Yellow-green optd Officiel (Mi. D.65) [ . ]
15c Turquoise optd Officiel [ . ] (Mi. D.66)
25c Scarlet optd Officiel (Mi. D.68) [ . ]
40c Blue optd Officiel (Mi. D.71) [ . ]
50c Grey optd Officiel (Mi. D.72) [ . ]
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. We are not convinced that one can always identify these stamps by the variation in colour attributed to them.

Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1949/1950 Landschaften Urmarken Landscape series railways Briefmarken Schweiz Switzerland 1949/1950 Landschaften Urmarken Landscape series railways

The scans above show a coil number on a 5c landscape definitive and what appears to be a tax (perhaps 'postage due' marking) on the 25c of the set. We have seen all values of this set with plain 'T' or 'T in a circle' cancellations but have no information on whether they officially served as postage dues.

Most of the basic stamps listed in this article were also overprinted for use in the Geneva offices of either the League of Nations or, later, the United Nations and its various agencies.

Postscript :
To conclude, we show below some postcards of the three railway views in the 1934-1948 issues, two of which have been subjected to some artistic retouching.

Chateau de Chillon (south of Montreux on Lac Lťman, alias Genfer See, alias Lake Geneva):
Schweiz Switzerland Chillon
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The Gotthard Railway near Giornico, from above and below:
Schweiz Switzerland Gotthardbahn Giornico

Schweiz Switzerland Gotthardbahn Giornico
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Rheinfall & Railway Bridge, romanticized:
Schweiz Switzerland Rheinfall & train zug

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