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Zumstein Spezialkatalog Schweiz [or, Spezialkatalog über die Briefmarken der Schweiz]

Zumstein Spezialkatalog Schweiz [or, Spezialkatalog über die Briefmarken der Schweiz]. By Max Hertsch. 1182 pages (two volumes), b&w illustrations, 7 x 9 ¾ inch format. Published by Zumstein & Cie, 2000. ISBN: 3-909278-19-1.Out of print, can be found second-hand from philatelic booksellers.

Reviewer: Robert Zeigler

rzeigler@zcklaw.com

The premier specialized catalog for Swiss stamps, namely the Zumstein Spezialkatalog Schweiz, is published by Zumstein and Company of Zeughausgasse 24, Bern, Switzerland. The author of the most recent edition was Max Hertsch. The first comprehensive Swiss catalog by Zumstein appeared in 1924. Since then, Zumstein has published specialized Swiss catalogs at irregular intervals. The most recent Zumstein Specialized Catalog, the 25th edition, appeared in the year 2000 in two volumes, in German only, totaling almost 1200 pages, profusely illustrated. Zumstein has also published an annual much less detailed catalog in German and French, which carries basic information comparable to the Swiss Dealer Catalog. It has now been over 20 years since the Zumstein Specialized Catalog has appeared. Since then, there have been many discoveries, and many monographs have appeared that detail those discoveries. It is not possible to say at this time when the next edition of the Zumstein Specialized Catalog will appear. However, the Specialized is far more detailed than any other Swiss stamp catalog. Prices for multiples, many varieties, deductions for hinging in many cases, stamps on cover, and often printing information are given. A limited section on postal rates is also included. There are many sections which go beyond the stamps, including a brief English and French language introduction. While the book is in German, the rather limited stamp vocabulary and the excellent organization and layout makes it fairly easy for English speakers to use. Prices are given in Swiss francs, which have gradually gained in value so that at this writing they are worth more than a U.S. Dollar. (I can remember a time (1969) when a Swiss franc was worth little more than 25 U.S. cents!) The Zumstein Spezialkatalog Schweiz is very comprehensive, though it is still a survey of the field and often does not contain minor varieties or lesser shades and the like. However, it does catalog virtually all known major discoveries up to the date of publication, and the revisions from edition to edition are thorough and sometimes very significant. It does not contain many bibliographic references, which is unfortunate, but it often incorporates the findings of important monographs, such as the very comprehensive study of the Standing Helvetia issue of 1882-1907 by Pierre Guinand et al. The Zumstein Spezialkatalog in large measure is easy for an English speaker to use, as most of it is in an easy-to-read format, and the vocabulary is full of English cognates and often limited to philatelic terms. There are sometimes blocks of text, but they can be translated pretty well with web translators. The price should run about $100.00, though the new edition (whenever it appears) may cost more, substantially more if one must bear the cost of transatlantic postage. It is currently out of print, but sometimes may be found at major philatelic booksellers, such as Leonard Hartmann of Louisville and Vera Trinder in Great Britain.

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