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Before the formation of a federal state in 1848, Switzerland was a loose confederation of independent cantons, each having their own postal arrangements. It was during this period that the city of Basel issued its one and only stamp, the famous ‘Basel Dove’. This is the first stamp in the world to have been printed in three colours, as well as the first to include embossing in the design. Because of the beauty of the design this is a popular stamp, and an unused pair is particularly rare.