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 Wilderness | Stamp Corner : 

Chris Mobsby

Stamp Corner

Cell:+27 (0) 837955682
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Not infrequently I hear the observation that the innovation of such electronic means of communication as the e-mail must surely be sounding the death knell for the hobby of stamp collecting or indeed of philately which includes the study as well as the mere accumulation of stamps.

My stock response is to point out that it is many, many years since the last painting of Rembrandt or Picasso was produced but that their works remain eminently collectable. In fact, shopping via the Internet and having your purchases delivered to your door is quite likely to increase the use of stamps of higher denominations. Why else, for instance, would South Africa issue postage stamps with a face value of R20?
In any case, the majority of serious philatelists, and I use the word “serious” to indicate keen and perhaps studious rather than grave or sombre, tend to restrict their collecting interests to a specific period or theme. As such, they might limit their acquisitions to, say, the issues of Basutoland during the reign King George VI or to mail flown by Imperial Airways between 1924 and 1939. A particularly popular topic for the specialist includes the stamps and correspondence of the Anglo-Boer War. It tends to come as a considerable surprise to many people that distinctive stamps can be attributed to such towns as Lydenburg, Volksrust, Schweitzer-Reneke and Wolmaransstad during the hostilities in the period from 1899 to 1902. Of particular note was Mafeking where a local delivery service was formed to carry despatches between the various outposts that constituted the defence of the town during the siege that was to last from October 1899 until May 1900. Two stamps were produced photographically on ferro-prussiate paper, hence the famous blue colour. The one-penny depicted Sergeant-Major Goodyear on his bicycle while a three-penny value portrayed the Commander of the garrison, General Baden-Powell. It was the General, perhaps equally famous as the founder of the Boy Scout movement, who relieved the town of Rustenburg in June 1900 after a short siege by a large Boer force. At that stage, the only stamps available in the town were those of the Z.A.R., the Zuid-Afrikaasche Republiek, so these were overprinted with the letters V.R. standing for Victoria Regina and thus appeasing the patriotic British residents of the town.
The fluctuating fortunes of either side during the war between Great Britain on the one hand and the Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State on the other gave rise to a number of provisional stamp issues. As the British forces, after heavy initial losses, began to gain the upper hand, the Boers retreated into the Eastern Transvaal. While the temporary government was in Machadodorp, a post-card with the imprint of a one-penny stamp was produced on board a train by the “Staatsdrukkerij te velde” – the State Printers in the field. The copy shown was posted in Waterval Onder on 21 August 1900 and addressed to ’s Gravenhage in Holland but has, unfortunately, no indication of the date on which it reached its destination. However, a similar card, from the same correspondent and to the identical address, is known to have left Waterval Onder on 11 August and been received in the Netherlands seven weeks later thus proving that such an item of postal stationery enjoyed at least a certain amount of international acceptability.

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