Postal agreements prior to the General Postal Union/Universal Postal Union in 1875 were highly diverse, though they show increased uniformity over time from 1850 to 1875 in Europe. This post focuses on mail between Switzerland and Italy. Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
Organization of this Post
- Postal Arrangements (in progress)
- Switzerland to Italy Prepaid Rates
- Italy to Switzerland Prepaid Rates
- Border Crossings (in progress)
The postal conventions of Sardinia were the precursors for the agreements entered into by the Kingdom of Italy (established 1860/61). The process of unification introduces its share of exceptions and interesting postal history opportunities. However, this post will focus on the general rule, rather than the exceptions.
Swiss-Sardinian Convention of 1851
This agreement applied to Sardinia and was made available to various Italian States in the years 1859 to 1861. The first convention was made available to Lombardy, Parma and Modena in June/July of 1859. Tuscany joined in July of 1860. The Two Sicilies did not join until Oct 1, 1861, when the 1860 convention was already in place. The depleted Roman States did not use Kingdom of Italy postal conventions until 1870 and would only be involved in the second convention listed here.
The Swiss-Italian Convention of 1862
This may be the first postal convention negotiated by the Kingdom of Italy after its formation. While I have found sufficient resources for the treaties signed by France, Belgium, England and the Netherlands, I am still looking for online resources showing the original texts of treaties for Italy and Switzerland that do not involved one of the aforementioned entities. Now that I have found numerous other resources in this area, it is likely not going to be hard to find the others (see me in December 2018).
Switzerland to Italy Prepaid Rates
The Alps were a very real obstacle when it came to communications between Switzerland and Italy. It would make little sense to send all mail from one country to another to one or two exchange offices and let the receiving country figure out delivery. After all, sometimes the best (and maybe only) way to get to certain destinations would be taking a pass that crossed the border. Perhaps just as important is the recognition that southern Switzerland had a significant percentage of people who identified as Italian. Discounted border rates reflect these aspects of the relationship between these two countries at the time.
|Aug 1, 1851- border (a)||20 rappen||7.5 grams|
|Aug 1, 1851||40 rappen||7.5 grams|
|Dec , 1859 - border (b)||10 rappen||7.5 grams|
|Jul 1, 1862 - border (c)||10 centimes/rappen||10 grams|
|Jul 1, 1862||30 centimes/rappen||10 grams|
|Jan 1, 1876 (GPU)||30 centimes||15 grams|
|May 1, 1878 (UPU)||25 centimes||15 grams|
|Oct 1, 1907 (UPU)||25 ctm / 15 ctm||15 g / add'l 15 g|
30 centimes per 10 grams : Jul 1, 1862 - Dec 31, 1875
First example - via Geneva and Mt Cenis
|Geneve Jul 23 1863
via Savoy (France) and Mt Cenis
Da Susa A Torino Jul 24 63
Milano Jul 25 63
Second example - via Splugen and Como
|Horgen Apr 24 1867
Chur Apr 24 67 (verso)
? Apr 24 67 (verso - unclear Swiss marking)
Como A Milano Apr 26 (verso)
Milano Apr 26 67 (verso)
Genova Apr 26 67 (verso)
Italy to Switzerland Prepaid Rates
The postal agreements between Switzerland, France and the Kingdom of Sardinia/Italy are relatively simple when it comes to the monetary and weight systems. An Italian centesimi is equivalent to a Swiss rappen is equivalent to a French centime. All three used grams as the unit of measure. This makes the table below somewhat redundant. However, if we wish to go back in time to prior agreements when Italy (and Switzerland) were not unified, things become more complex.
|Aug 1, 1851- border (a)||20 centesimi||7.5 grams|
|Aug 1, 1851||40 centesimi||7.5 grams|
|Dec , 1859 - border (b)||10 centesimi||7.5 grams|
|Jul 1, 1862 - border (c)||10 centesimi||10 grams|
|Jul 1, 1862||30 centesimi||10 grams|
|Jan 1, 1876 (GPU)||30 centesimi||15 grams|
|May 1, 1878 (UPU)||25 centesimi||15 grams|
|Oct 1, 1907 (UPU)||25 ctsm / 15 ctsm||15 g / add'l 15 g|
30 centesimi per 10 grams : Jul 1, 1862 - Dec 31, 1875
via Como and Gotthard
Milano Staz Nov 10 70 (verso)
Milano-Como Ambulant Nov 10 70 (verso)
St Gotthard Pass carriage road
Burgdorf Nov 12 70 (verso)
20 centesimi per 7.5 grams : Aug 1, 1851 - Jun 30, 1862
Border Mail Rate - Each location under 45 km from the shared border.
|Milano Feb 16, 1860
P.D. (paid to destination)
Magadino Feb 17, 1860 (verso)
Border Crossings and Exchange Offices
There were numerous border crossings to facilitate local mail between Italy and Switzerland. I suspect there may well be a significant scholarly work or two and several serious collectors who could put any discussion I might bring forth to shame on that topic. However, it is fairly apparent that there were limited higher traffic border crossings that could reach the interiors of Switzerland and Italy.
The discussion of the Geneva crossings in the France/Switzerland post probably give the insight I am looking for with respect to Italian/Swiss mails. The map above shows the Geneva-Bellegarde crossing as heading to Mont Cenis. However, I now think that the Geneva - St Julien crossing is more likely. This isn't to say mail couldn't have traversed the route shown here. But, I believe evidence shows the normal route was likely via St Julien.
Time Period Issues
Time makes all of this discussion tricky - of course. The rapid development of rail lines, improvements in roads and telegraph technologies means routes could change multiple times during a convention period. Happily, there are many railroad enthusiasts that take great pride in uncovering rail development throughout the world. It may take time to locate the resources, but I suspect I can develop a decent picture of routes over time.
Other Interesting Stuff
Patience, these things take time...