Swiss phonecards are of the optic type. They consist of a sandwich of plastic and
aluminium, with an optic band located inside the card. The card is inserted widthwise in the
telephone through a special slot, a laser beam later reading the optic band, determining the
remaining value of the card and burning a code independent to each country.
Produced in Zug, Switzerland, by the Landis & Gyr corporation, optic cards have invaded the market since 1981, upsetting traditional cabin phoning.
Collectors classify phonecards in accordance with their source and attribute them code letters.
Two large families can be distinguished:
- "over-the-counter" phonecards sold by the PTT through post offices, newsstands and special telecom outlets, traditionally known as P-cards.
- phonecards used for advertisement and sold to corporations as give-aways, traditionally known as K-cards.
Other types of phonecards are known to collectors: complimentary phonecards from the swiss PTT, benefit cards sold through the "over-the-counter" channels with profit distributed to charity organizations and test cards used by special PTT workers.
Each phonecard displays a unique number allowing for a clear and easy understanding of the origin, type and date of production. The number, placed on the back of the card, is composed of three digits, one letter, and five digits. The first three digits indicate the date of production: year and month.
For new collectors, I recommend choosing "over-the-counter" phonecards as a start. With a
small amount of visuals produced (55 only for a complete collection), one can quickly achieve an almost
complete collection. Two 20.- models, known as P4A and P4B in Switzerland are rare and can
fetch up to CHF 1500 in used condition. These two exceptions were produced in 1988 and
quickly withdrawn from the market for technical reasons (the cards were too thin). Only a few
pieces are still in circulation, thus explaining their rarity. Other visuals can include
defects, such as misspells, colors changes or stains and are avidly hunted by the collectors
(ex. Barrigue's "Tour de Pise", Eiger or Jean-Jacques Rousseau). Mistakes in the numbering
exist in some cases, but the value of these cards has dropped in recent times.
Avid collectors will want to have at least one card of each number printed. It is not rare then to have one keep up to six or eight times the same visual in a collection, with some rare numbering existing (only 4000 copies).
"Over-the-counter" swiss phonecards come with a strip of "thermolack" paint on the front. The remaining value of the card is easily recognized through small brown markings located on the strip, separated by every 10 centimes. They are caused by the burning of the card's optic band through a laser beam.
The value of the used phonecard is determined by its condition, but also by the condition
of the white band and the number of brown markings located on it.
Collectors use lettering to describe the condition of the card: U ("ungebraucht" in german) describes new cards, while G ("gebraucht" in german) describes used cards. A criteria for quality, measured from 1 to 5, uses the following guidelines:
Since November the 1st, 1996, public phones use chips cards. We still don't have enough informations about how the cards have been numbered to give trustable explanations. As soon as possible an update will be made.
With these basic explanations, I hope to have interested with the passionate hobby of
swiss phonecard collecting.
You need more informations or you want to add something to my explanation. Feel free to contact me via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested to swap with me, please send me an e-mail at: email@example.com
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