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After the imperforated Sitting Helvetia Series (nicknamed ‘Strubel’, reference to a popular children’s book character, due to Helvetia’s laurels crown looking like messy hair), the Swiss Post office first launched its perforated version in 1862. These are specifically rich collection series, due to the richness of variation to be encountered: apart from numerous colour shades of each piece, some may present silk threads (even two are possible), while others none at all. The two first sets were printed on white paper, while the 1881 issues were printed in paper with small fibers (granite paper).
I could not find the reason for the launch of the perforated version, but the bad printing quality of its predecessor may have been one motivation, as the new versions presented richer details and Helvetia’s crown problem was fixed. Still, engraved printing allowed excess of ink which could alter the background of the stamp or even allow from additional frame lines from the excess ink.
Zr no. 32/ Mi no. 24 in numerous shades
Another curiosity I came across was in an odd cancelation on a 1Fr. 1862 piece which otherwise looked mint. The catalogue price indicated a higher value for cancelled pieces and after short research I found out after the series went out of circulation, people could trade their old issues for new ones during a certain period. Post offices overprinted “AUSSER KURS” (meaning they were no longer valid) on these traded-in stamps. These were then sold to collectors and are apparently somewhat common. Two types of such overprints exist: ‘Ausser Kurs’ (type 1) and ‘AUSSER KURS’ (type 2), both in the upward-right direction. The first type is scarcer than the second. Another overprint known, a bit harder to find than the others is the ‘SPECIMEN’.
Zr no. 36/ Mi. no.28c mint with "AUSSER KURS" overprint
The Sitting Helvetias (in its perforated form) are rather straight forward to collect, and the stamps are not necessarily expensive, with a couple of exceptions. Apart from the already mentioned great colour variations, only 3 out of the 26 pieces have actual catalogued varieties in Zumstein. The series was replaced by numerals 1882 issues, but Helvetia continues to appear frequently in Swiss stamps in many ways, and we find her seated again in a 1908 series, this time with a sword in hand. But that is a different issue and yet again a different story.
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