03 honegger philatelie Wissenswertes

World rarity of the special kind

besonderen art

Geneva stationery, small format, with red rosette No. 4 from Genève, 29.03.49, to Gex/Departement Ain in France.

In the area of classic Switzerland there are rare and even scarcer items among the cantonal issues. Usually, these also include pairs, even unused ones. For the Zurich 4 and Basel Dove there are about six of these pairs known in existence. Occasionally, the Zurich 4 can still be seen in pairs today, also on cover, of which Richard Schäfer lists ten in his important book "Schweiz Kantonalmarken" (letters bearing two individual stamps are included equally). However, letters with one and a half Zurich 4, i.e. one whole stamp and one half stamp as a 6 Rp. franking, are even rarer.

It is similar for the Basel Doves. 20 years ago we wrote down half a dozen unused pairs in our documentation. Also there are eight pairs (or two individual stamps) on cover according to Schäfer, which however does not include mixed franking pairs with Rayons used (two known).

These two cantonal stamps are probably the most internationally famous of the old Swiss Confederation. The Zurich 4 because it is Switzerland's first cantonal stamp as a local franking. The Basel Dove is probably the most popular cantonal stamp. This is not only due to the dove motif, but also to the fact that it was the first three-colour print of a stamp worldwide and even has a relief!

All the above units are in good condition in a price range from 150,000 to over 300,000 CHF. These rarities are somewhat familiar to most old Swiss collectors, even if only a few can afford them.

A little less attention finds another - even bigger - rarity: the Geneva postal stationery, in any of the three formats.

For the sake of thought yet another cross comparison: of the single frankings of the Vaud 4 (catalogue = 58000.-- CHF) Schäfer lists 110 letters. Of the small format of the Geneva stationery, however, only 26 pieces, thus less than a fourth! Since we have also included dated letter pieces in our own file, we stick to the count of Richard Schäfer in order not to cause confusion among the various files.

In the last few years it has been shown again and again that these postal stationeries (applies to all cancelled formats) have been treated poorly even in the large to very large collections. In other words: they are only scantily represented (without stamp variations) or not at all! Wouldn't this be worth considering to pay more attention to such remaining rarities?

The cover we did choose for our 2020 catalogue front page even made the big step from a great rarity to a great world rarity:

Geneva stationery, small format, with red rosette No. 4 from Genève, 29.03.49, to Gex/Departement Ain in France.

In March 1849 the Geneva cantonal stamps could not yet be used for franking abroad. France therefore did not recognise the postage of 5 centimes up to the border and demanded a "2" (décimes) surcharge from the addressee. In general, cantonal covers to foreign destinations are outstandig rare, so far only very few item are known. It looks like this cover even is unique. So far we have not seen a second postal stationery envelope from Geneva to another country!

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