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Square, but not proportional

“The Swiss cross is a white, upright, free-standing cross depicted against a red background, whose arms, which are all of equal size, are one-sixth longer than they are wide.” This is how the Swiss Federal Assembly defined the dimensions of the Swiss coat of arms on 12 December 1889.

The arms of the Swiss Cross are therefore not square. The flag itself, however, most definitely is – unlike most other national flags. It had already been handled as such, but the new Coat of Arms Protection Act made the square shape mandatory on 1 January 2017.

The Swiss foundation Pro Patria has made the special dimensions and colour of our flag the motif of its stamps for 2019. Under the guiding principle of “Using heritage to shape the future”, it raises funds to preserve Switzerland’s cultural heritage through stamps with surcharges. Bernese designer Max Henschel has focused on the proportions of the cross and the flag in the hand-drawn CHF 1+CHF 0.50 stamp, which symbolizes heritage.

By contract, the colour red takes center stage in the computer-generated CHF 0.85+CHF 0.40 stamp, which represents the future and features a background made up of different definitions of red, such as “CMYK 0 / 100 / 100 / 0”, “Pantone 485 C / 485 U” and “RAL 3020 Traffic red”.

Jürg Freudiger