Collectors are familiar with the Swiss semi-postal stamps issued annually in time for holiday mailing since 1913 by the Pro Juventute Foundation to benefit the youth of Switzerland. Some are also familiar with the little envelopes the Pro Juventute Foundation sold from 1926 to 1960 to raise additional funds. These little envelopes were popular for the small designs on their lower left corner.
Figure 1 shows the envelope issued in 1931 franked with one of the Pro Juventute stamps issued that year. But few collectors know what those small envelopes contained holiday greeting cards. In fact, it was the greeting cards that the Foundation was selling, the envelopes were just something to mail them in.
Figure 2 shows the greeting card that would have been in that 1931 envelope.
The cards were popular items to send holiday wishes at Christmas or New Years to friends. The sender usually wrote a brief message on the back of the card.
The designs of the greeting cards ranged from kitsch, such as the 1931 card in Figure 2, to folk and artistic designs. The cards were usually sold in sets of 5 different designs by the same artist and usually two or three different sets of designs.
There were different language versions also; German and French, primarily, but also Italian and, for only a couple of years, Romansh. Figures 3 and 3a show the German and French versions of one of the 1928 greeting cards.
Some examples showing the range of designs of the greeting cards are illustrated in the next few figures.
Figure 4 shows one of the 1930 cards of a small boy trying to put a letter into a mail box thatís way above his head.
Figure 5 is one of the 1937 cards with a fine engraving of a mountain lake.
Figure 6 is a wood-cut design on one of the 1943 cards.
Figure 7 is a folk design on one of the 1949 cards.
Figure 8 shows a mountain gentian on one of the 1956 cards.
Figure 9 is a contemporary painting of a boy with a Christmas candle on one of the 1959 cards.
The Pro Juventute Foundation continued selling greeting cards after 1960 but the envelopes no longer had the little design in the lower left corner but rather just the words, losing their popularity with collectors.
Figures 10 and 10a show a 1962 envelope and its greeting card showing a red rose. The type face and color of the inscription plus the varying sizes of envelopes makes it possible to date these generic envelopes.
The greeting cards and their associated little envelopes are all listed in the late Hubert Schad's "Pro Juventute Briefli 1926-1960" which is available from the APRL.
With Herr Schad, I have put together an electronic publication of post-1960 greeting cards and envelopes, "Post-1960 Pro Juventute Briefli and Greeting Cards" which is also available from the APRL.
Hopefully someone will be able to fill in some of the holes in this listing. If you can please contact me.