The Basel Dove

Chris Jackson told the Society members about his ‘battle’ with his burgeoning collection of Swiss stamps following his acquisition via a donation of a Lighthouse album printed with spaces for all stamps up till 1988. The text was in German and French and the album was fairly complete. The donor had a deep interest in Swiss stamps. Chris ruefully observed that as expected the oldest and most expensive stamps were not there in the Lighthouse album though there were some from the 1840s and 1850s. However, one or two pencil comments appeared to suggest that the writer had some concerns about their genuineness. Critically the famous Ist Swiss stamp, “the Basel Dove” was NOT there!

Bernard Walmsley confirmed that whilst the elusive Basel Dove is indeed often recognised as the first “bird stamp”, it is an indeterminate dove species, and consequently some bird stamp thematic collectors would discount it. Bernard did point out that he was not that particular, so if anyone had one to spare then he’d gladly take it off their hands!

The two and a half rappen “Basel Dove” was the first ever embossed stamp and became the world’s first tricolor stamp upon its release on July 1, 1845. It is actually featured in Stamp Magazine June 2020 on page 35. It was printed in Frankfurt and its designer Melchior Berri committed suicide before it was issued. 40,000 stamps were produced, of which it is thought 30,000 were used. It was the only postage stamp ever issued by the Swiss canton of Basel and is extremely rare. In SG specialised they are £10000 but caution is required as there are many forgeries, both modern and antique.

The stamp does appear quite often on anniversaries of its issue and these items make a nice addition to any collection. In summary then, perhaps Chris’s best bet to actually add The Basel Dove to his collection, is indeed via it’s portrayal (complete with magnified detail) on a Swiss stamp shown below which was released in 2015 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Federation of Swiss Philatelic Societies!