Swiss Post has launched the world's first authentic embroidered stamp - a limited edition SFr5 stamp dedicated to the embroidery industry in the eastern city of St Gallen.
The unique stamp was designed by Peter Hostettler, who works as a textile designer at the Bischoff Textiles company in St Gallen. The company will be producing the stamp.
It was presented to the public on Wednesday at the opening of the national stamp exhibition in the city.
"It goes without saying that there will be a tremendous run on this article because such stamps cannot - and should not - be produced in endless quantities," said Renzo Lorenzetti from Swiss Post's philately marketing division.
"When all is said and done, it's meant to be something special and a philatelic rarity," he added.
The inspiration for the stamp came from a length of needlelace, which probably served as a neck or wrist tie made around 1700 in Venice. This type of work is called "point de neige" or "punto rosellino" because of the many picots along the curved edging, and the tiny roses in the border background.
A second source for the stamp design was another length of decorative braid, also worn around the neck by men and women: a piece of Valenciennes lace dating from the 18th century.
Swiss Post says that in addition to intensive development work and substantial investments, high-tech equipment and modern production processes were needed to make the idea of a textile stamp a reality.
by Robert Brookes