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Blog > The "Basel Dove” letterboxes

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

During the summer, British Postcrossing members and old university friends Richard (aka roestimann) and Adam (aka mluc32) met in the city of Basel with a mission: to find all of the six “Basler Dybli” maiboxes!

Why are these mailboxes special, you ask? Well, for one, they’re beautiful! They were designed by Swiss architect Melchior Berri between 1843 and 1844, when Basel re-organised how mail was transported in the city. Upon completion and installation, they were considered the district mailboxes and served as direct connections to the postal network.

Basel Dove stamp

Local postmaster Johannes Bernoulli liked them so much that he requested 10 more to be made — and a stamp as well to commemorate the occasion! The stamp issued in Basel (this was before Switzerland had a unified post office for the whole country and cantons could issue their own postage) was called “Basler Dybli” (or the Basel Dove). The 2½-Rappen (cents) stamp was launched on July 1st, 1845 and featured an embossed white dove on a field of red, carrying a letter in its beak.

Although the stamp wasn’t very popular at the time, years later it became a prized symbol of Swiss philately for its classical beauty, but also for being the first stamp ever on several different categories… Can you guess which ones before having a peek? 🕊

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

Amazingly, almost 175 years later, these beautiful mailboxes featuring the same dove motive are still in use! Richard and Adam located all six of them, mailed some postcards from them and took some photographs to document their outing in Basel.

If you’re ever in Basel and are curious to follow their footsteps to discover these special mailboxes, you can find them at: Spalentor, St. Alban Vorstadt, Münsterplatz, Schneidergasse, Lindenberg (Kleinbasel) and at the old chambers in Riehen, which is a little outside the city.

What a brilliant postal adventure! Thank you Richard and Adam for taking us along on your trip around Basel to learn some interesting facts about the postal history of Switzerland!

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes
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44 comments so far

Mosshumla, Sweden
That's really interesting! Thank you so much for letting us know about the Basler Dybli!
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auntiedodo, United States of America
What a great adventure! I love to hear stories of this nature and for it to be a hobby and an adventure combined, is even better!

Thank you for sharing! Happy Postcrossing
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Alexander9179, Russia
Здорово!!!
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jjmedusa, United States of America
This is great! I love birds, so I love these postboxes!
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Sfander, Canada
Loved their journey of discovery! I was curious about why the stamps had become desired...Was it because a figure head was not used, i.e. not a king or queen's head? The other idea I had was perhaps it was tri-coloured or the first time an animal was used on a postage stamp?

Great story and I hope you keep them coming...Thank you.
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Wonderwoman12, Taiwan
Cool !
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mysweetlife63, United States of America
Love, love, love that story! Thank you for sharing these beautiful & amazing boxes with us.
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FABIO, Brazil
Great!! I love birds too....
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Tranchile, Guernsey
Awesome postboxes and very interesting historical story which I enjoyed very much.
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flowerdogs, United States of America
Wow!! Those are super pretty.
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Scottie, United Kingdom
Nice story and Lovely mailboxes with the dove the bird of peace.
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Sfander, Canada
Oh my gosh, I just saw the 'peek' link! Great information and will have to check my antique postcards to see what I have in the way of Swiss stamps. Enjoyed the story very much.
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ned44440, Ireland
Great story. The bucket list is getting bigger!! I had to peek at the answer. I would have been sitting here for a month of Sundays before I came up with the answer.
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jm1122, United States of America
Thank you for sharing this story! So much fun!
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Kewl, Philippines
Great story! I just wish that the Philippine post office still use their mailboxes!
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fez40, New Zealand
I have an old exchange student friend who lives in Basel! Beautiful.
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ramcomp, India
Very classic and beautiful.The stamp and the travel adventure to discover this history.
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Topas, Germany
charming letter boxes. Love such nostalgic objects that are integrated into daily life.
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Beat4953, Netherlands
Thank you so much for sharing this with us
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Demmi, Romania
Great journey for a Postcrosser Bucket List!
What a beautiful experience!
Well done mluc32 & roestimann
(Y) ♥
P.S. ( it would be a good idea to make such a list: #PostcrosserBucketList?)
1: The "Basel Dove” letterboxes in Switzerland
2:
3:
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@Demmi I think you could add "Ride the Mail Rail" to your list and maybe "Visit a mail sorting center" as well :)
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mounten, Italy
Thank you for sharing this historic event, the stamps under the "peek" page are wonderful and expensiv.The letterboxis are so cute!!!
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Sissi69, Italy
Wonderful story and mailboxes.
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maxcat1, United States of America
Thank you for creating this interesting article for us. The link to the "peek" page for the stamp was useful and beautiful. I like the idea proposed in the comments by "Demmi" for a Postcrosser Bucket List and the subsequent additions to it from "meiadeleite." Great way to begin our day :)
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Althea1954, United Kingdom
Very interesting. Will look out for these when next in Switzerland.
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fisherman, Ireland
Very interesting article and research on Swiss Postal History - Well done
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MissAtomicBomb, Philippines
Thank you for sharing this. This is amazing. I'm adding this to my bucketlist.
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vlada_123, Russia
Super!
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Sandristica, Spain
Very nice!
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Giorgis, Finland
As a side note, if you want to visit the 5 mailboxes in Kleinbasel, there is also a geocache about them. Fitting enough, it is a letterbox. :)
https://coord.info/GC2GV14
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Riutsi, Finland
Lovely mailboxes, lovely story. Thank you ♥
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ned44440, Ireland
Love the idea of creating a Postcrosser's Bucket List.

And looking at the stats - look how close we are getting to having used our collective mail boxes 50 million times ☺
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Melina240191, Switzerland
Some of these were often emptied by me when I was still working on the post in Basel 💙💙😊 🇨🇭
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Nzqu, Finland
Beautiful mailboxes! I wonder if there're postcards with pictures of them? :)

The idea of a Postcrosser's Bucket List is great! Maybe you could do a blog post related to it some day?
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Greesh, India
Thanks for sharing,they are very nice and unique
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@Nzqu There certainly are! Here's one: https://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/CH-138635

We'l think about that bucket list — if anyone has suggestions, send me a message :)
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dollart, Finland
Have to keep this in mind when i travel to Basel in august 2019!
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zomertje, Netherlands
Ooo what an amazing and interesting story, will surrely look up at least one of the boxes when I am in Switserland next time.
Thanks for sharing
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GayeDoreen, United States of America
How very fun!
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Flippie, Canada
Thank you sharing your story guys.
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NIDUSKA, Finland
thank you
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Talal90Ahmed, Iraq
coooooooooooooool
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amy666, Switzerland
What a nice story. I knew the stamp and historical aspects, but I did not know such letterboxes exist. Thanks for sharing!
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CherryDarling, Germany
What a cool adventure!
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