World Stamps

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent

Scarce, used Double Geneva highlights Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich sale

April 29, 2016 11:45 AM

  • Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich sold this scarce, used 1843 Switzerland Double Geneva with deep yellow-green color and a light, red-rosette cancel at auction in April. It brought about $21,600.
  • An on-cover example of the 2½-rappen Basel Dove from that Swiss city’s only stamp issue fetched $17,900 at Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich’s April sale
  • A Geneva third-issue 4-centime stamp of 1849, popularly known as the short-lived “Vaud 4” (after a nearby canton), went for about $15,500 at the April auction by Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich.

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent

Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich conducted an auction April 15-16 of Swiss and European stamps and covers. A scarce, used Double Geneva with deep yellow-green color and a light, red-rosette cancellation was one of the highlights of this auction.

Before Switzerland achieved postal unification in 1850, individual cantons were responsible for their own operations and rates, which resulted in a confusing plethora of local currencies and rules for payment of postage.

Zurich, Geneva, and Basel all briefly had their own stamp issues, listed just before Switzerland in the Scott Standard catalog with a 1L, 2L, or 3L prefix, respectively. Every one of these issues ranks among the philatelic classics, and not one is valued under $1,500.

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The so-called Double Geneva (Scott 2L1) of 1843 was a two-part stamp: each half was worth 5 centimes, for in-town delivery, while the whole 10c stamp paid for delivery throughout the canton. 

The example in the Schwarzenbach sale, with fair to good margins all around and some sheet-margin selvage at bottom, was hammered down for 17,500 Swiss francs, or about $21,600, including the 20 percent buyer’s premium the firm adds to all lots. Like most of the Swiss classics in the sale, it was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

An on-cover example of the 2½-rappen Basel Dove (Scott 3L1), the beautiful four-color stamp that was that city’s sole issue, fetched $17,900.

A Geneva third-issue 4c of 1849 (2L5), popularly known as the “Vaud 4” (after a nearby canton where it also was used), went for about $15,500.

The Vaud 4 was in use for only about two months at the end of 1849 and beginning of 1850, made obsolete by a local currency reform that required its replacement with a 5c stamp of the same design.

Related Article:

1847 Basel Dove cover highlights Oct. 16-17 Schwarzenbach auction in Zurich