A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Switzerland Semi-Postals

1915 Scott B3 10c red/buff "Girl (Lucerne)"
Quick History
This post will focus on the Switzerland semi-postal stamps. The issues began in 1913, and have been in annual production since 1915. Particularly, these semi-postals have raised funds "For the Children"....Pro Juventute.

The United States has never released a semi-postal stamp (during the classical era), so the concept of raising funds for a particular purpose through a surtax on stamps is a bit "foreign" for U.S. collectors. (pun intended. ;-)

Scott places semi-postals in the "Back of the Book" section, away from the "regular" issues. This makes them even  more "exotic". ;-)

But semi-postals are quite popular, and many countries use this mode to raise funds. Besides Switzerland, among the countries that have issued semi-postals are Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Italy and colonies, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Romania, Russia, Saar, San Marino, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yugoslavia.

Those countries that haven't issued semi-postals during the classical era include the British Commonwealth, Latin America, and Portugal and colonies.

Semi-postals tend to be well designed, and usually have a higher CV, because of relative scarcity in issue volume. Hence they are attractive for WW collectors.

1916 Scott B6 10c brown red/buff "Girl (Vaud)"
Into the Deep Blue
I covered the 2014 Scott catalogue offerings for Switzerland in the prior post. One of the highlights for Switzerland are the semi-postal issues. They deserve their own post, and here it is. !!

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Rappen or Centimes = 1 Franc
1913 Scott B1 5c green "Helvetia and Matterhorn"
The Switzerland semi-postals are famous for their designs. They must have been avidly collected, because most are inexpensive to moderately expensive. (CV <$1-$8+).  A few of the earlier issues are more expensive (-CV $80+).

B1 (1913)- B76 (1935) were sold @ premiums of 2c for 3c, 5c for 5c-20c, and 10c for 30c-40c stamps.

All of them during the classical era went on sale on December 1. The first semi-postal- the 1913 "Helvetia and Matterhorn"- appears to have remained on sale until February 28, 1914.

1915 Scott B2 5c green/buff "Boy (Appenzell)"
The 1915 issue has two stamps and is labeled "Pro Juventute", "for the children". Actually, all of the semi-postal stamps shown on this present post are considered Pro Juventute issues.  There were also "Pro Patria" semi-postal issues - "for the country", beginning in 1938.

1916 Scott B4 3c violet/buff "Girl (Fribourg)"
Every year beginning in 1916, there was a three or four stamp set released on December 1. I can imagine they were eagerly anticipated.

1917 Scott B8 5c green/buff "Girl (Unterwalden)"
All of the earlier issues were typographed.

Unterwalden- 1654 Map
Obviously, there were regional dress and costumes in various cantons in Switzerland. Unterwalden is located south of Lake Lucerne.

 1918 Scott B11 15c violet, red, orange, & black "Geneva"
Beginning in 1918, the stamps were multi-colored. The 1918 set had only two stamps, and was on straw-surfaced paper.

 1919 Scott B13 10c lake, green, and black "Vaud"
The 1919 set was on cream-surfaces paper, as were the sets through 1926.

The Canton of Vaud is in the French speaking portion of Switzerland, and the capital is Lausanne.

1920 Scott B16 10c red & light blue "Zurich"
 Zurich, with its own "coat of arms" was on the 1920 set.

Zurich, located on a lake by the same name, is the largest metropolitan city (1.8 million) in Switzerland. I've visited twice, and a finer city is hard to imagine.

1921 Scott B19 20c violet, red, orange & black "Bern"
One of my favorites- the "bear" coat of arms of Bern on the 1921 set.

According to local legend, the city was named in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zahringen, after the first animal he found on a hunt,

1922 Scott B24 40c blue & red "Switzerland"
The highest denomination of a set often will have the Switzerland coat of arms  design.

1923 Scott B26 10c mulricolored "Glarus (St. Fridolin)"
The landowner Urso was converted by St. Fridolin, and all the lands that became the Canton of Glarus were left to Fridolin with Urso's death.

1924 Scott B29 5c dark violet & black "Appenzell"
Love the bear!

1925 Scott B35 20c multicolored "Grisons"
The Canton of Graubunden (Grisons) had their coat of arms on the 1925 20c.

1926 Scott B39 20c red, black, and blue "Aargau"
The Canton of Aargau coat of arms is on the 1926 set.

1927 Scott B42 10c green & fawn/greenish 
"Orphan at Pestalozzi School"
The 1927 set was on granite paper. The 10c green & fawn/greenish is printed by typography, but other stamps in the set are engraved or by photogravure.

1928 Scott B48 30c dark blue & red "J.H. Dunant"
The 1928 set has a photogravure stamp, showing Jean Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross Society.

1929 Scott B50 10c olive brown & gray blue
"Mt. Lyskamm"
The entire four stamp set of 1929 was printed by photogravure. Mt. Lyskamm is in the Pennine Alps.

Particularly lovely, no?

1930 Scott B55 20c multicolored "Schaffhausen"
Schaffhausen is the most northern canton, and was a city-state since the middle ages.

Deep Blue
1929-30 Air Post in Deep Blue
Deep Blue ("the Steiner") is great if one wishes to collect using the modern Scott catalogue, as it follows the catalogue sequence exactly for Switzerland.

1918 Scott B10 10c red, orange, and black "Uri"
Straw Surfaced Paper
Big Blue
I covered the Big Blue album offerings in the first Switzerland post.  Suffice to say that the early era semi-postal spacing is quite generous for a representational album. !!!

1932 Scott B63 20c scarlet "Wrestling"
Out of the Blue
Switzerland has continued with yearly semi-postals up to the present. They would make a very nice subset collection indeed. !!!

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Jim I don't think your assertion re the USA issuing semi-postals is quite correct, although none were issued during the Big Blue period the USPS did begin releasing semi-postal stamps starting with the Cancer Research issue of 1998.

    1. Yes, my comment is about the 1840-1940 classical era regarding no USA semi-postals.

      I don't pay much attention philately wise to anything past 1970. LOL

  2. Congratulations to philatelics informes of the ´Swiss série Pro-Juventude, best regardes

    1. Postmail- Always nice to hear from a fellow blogger :-)


  3. Do you have a method for identifying forgeries of the early stamps?

    1. Hi Rich

      No, other than being aware of possible resources, either philatelic literature or internet sites, to identify forgeries.

  4. Jim, just purchased a 2018 Scott Specialized Catalogue (huge temporary price drop at Amazon, by the way - was able to score it for $116 and free shipping), and had a good time sorting out an envelope of Switzerland BoB.

    Just curious as to why the used varieties are consistently worth more than mint? I have two used examples of Scott C4, and used is more than 6x the price of mint.

    The values of both are probably way too low to be worried about a forged cancellation, but I still wonder why the used price is in italics, and is much higher than mint.

    Any thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Tom, congratulations on your astute purchase.

      It is a bit of a supply-demand situation. The Germanic countries especially (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) have always had a lot of stamp collectors, and BOB stamps (Semipostals, Air Post) were often obtained mint and not postage used. Hence many more stamps in collections that are not used. And there is demand for used stamps by collectors now.

      Unfortunately, unscrupulous dealers in the past (and present?) would fraudulently cancel unused stamps, instantly raising the CV. That is why I don't like it when used is worth much more than unused. One can look for an apparently genuine cancel, but even then one can be fooled. That is why I prefer to collect unused in those cases. If I buy "used", I will try to obtain the stamp for the same CV% price as unused. Caveat emptor