A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Transvaal (South African Republic)

1882 Scott 118 1p on 4p olive green
Second Republic
Quick History
The South African Republic (ZAR, Transvaal), one of the Dutch speaking Boer states, was an independent country from 1852-1902. (The other independent country was the Orange Free State.)

But when gold fields were discovered in 1886, it significantly elevated British interest.

The Boers defeated the British in the First 1877-1881 Boer War, but surrendered to the British after the bloody 1899-1902 Second Boer War on May 31, 1902 with the Treaty of Vereeniging.

Scorched Earth: Boer civilians watch their house as it is burned
The British had practiced a "scorched earth policy" during the Second Boer war, because of the Boer forces guerrilla tactics.  And the British concentration camps for (mostly) Afrikaner women and children resulted in 26,000 dead from illness and starvation. The male Boer POW population (26,000) was sent overseas to Saint Helena, Ceylon, Bermuda, and India.

South African Republic and Orange Free State 1897
The British had declared by proclamation that the territory should be known as "The Transvaal" on September 1, 1900.

Suffice to say, through the prism of historical reading about the Boer wars and the era, that this was not the finest moment for mankind.

The turmoil is reflected in the stamps issues. The First Republic released stamps between 1869-1876. There are then "First British Occupation" issue stamps between 1877-1880. The Second Republic issued stamps between 1882-1896. The Second British Occupation stamps began in 1900. Finally, "Transvaal" proper Edward VII stamps were issued between 1902-1910.

The capital was Pretoria, and the population was 1,260,000 (297,000 white) in 1904.

The Union of South Africa was established in 1910.  Transvaal, existing now as a province, ceased their own stamp production.

1895 Scott 165 1p red, Lithographed
"Coat of Arms, Wheat Field and Railroad Train"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Transvaal 1869-1910, 293 major number descriptions. Of those, 50 are CV <$1-$1+, or only 17%.

Reprints- 1885-93, 1894, 1895-96, 1896
Transvaal is a real challenge for the WW classical era collector. The reprints (whiter paper, perf 12 1/2, large holes) on the Scott 123-137, 140-163, 166-174 are plentiful. The usual nominal goal is to have genuine originals in the collection. The problem is the reprints outnumber the originals by thousands to one. They were made from the original printing plates- with the help of the original engraver! - by Mirza Hadl, a stamp dealer from Paris.

If one wishes to be content with reprints, well, there is little blame in that. ;-)

Then there are counterfeits, especially the 1900 "V.R.I." overprinted issue.

The earlier First Republic (1869-1870) issues and First British Occupation (1877-1880) issues (Total 117 major numbers) are expensive and specialist's territory.

My own collection has plenty of reprints and counterfeits.

If one is really interested in the stamps of Transvaal, then joining the Transvaal Study Circle would be a good idea.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
"1871 Scott 7 3p lilac "Coat of Arms""
"A1" Forgery
We will start out with a bang or a dud- depending on one's point of view- with a forgery. But first, something about the First Republic issues.....

The "First Republic" refers to the South African Republic stamp era 1869-1877.  It was then subsequently occupied by the British. The republic (Second Republic) was restored in 1884 (actually 1882 for stamp issues), and lasted until 1900 when it was annexed by Great Britain as "Transvaal".

The "First Republic" stamp issues of 1869-1876 (49 major numbers) feature the "Coat of Arms" in two designs- "A1" and "A2". " A1" has spread wings on the eagle. "A2" has folded wings on the eagle. All of the denominations are design "A1", except for the 3p denomination, which is design "A2".  As we shall soon see, this distinction will be important.

The 1869-1876 "Coat of Arms" issues are quite complicated. Paper (thin, medium, thick, soft, hard, transparent, pelure), type of perforation (imperf, rouletted), and impression (fine, poor, overinked) are variables that determine the issue. And they tend to be expensive- often in the CV $hundreds.

Definitely specialist territory. The WW classical era collector will probably have no stamps at all, or perhaps a few representative specimens.

Forgery closeup of  "A1" Design
Then there are the forgeries.  I picked up this 3p specimen last week, but something was wrong. It was a 3p denomination (should be "A2" design), but it was an "A1" design- the eagle has spread wings. !!

How to tell?

* Obviously, my 3p denomination, which shouldn't exist with the "A1" design, is a dead giveaway.
* The "D" of "EENDRAGT" (Left lower corner above) is not significantly larger than the other letters, and does not touch the top of the ribbon- Forgery. In the genuine, the "D" is large, and touches the ribbon top.
* And, as was humorously pointed out by the Serrane Guide (APS Handbook- c1998;p 342), the warrior seems to be holding a glass of beer in his hand. Finally, the carriage pole is about 1 mm from the oval in the forgery, rather than ~ .2 mm in the genuine.

"1875-76 Scott 34 3p gray lilac"
"Imperf; Pelure Paper"
I had a particularly unlucky past week, as the other 3p denomination I picked up- supposedly a Scott 34- was also a forgery. It again has the "A1" design- not seen in the 3p denomination.

And the "Pelure paper", although thinner, was not pelure.

1878 Scott 72 1p red/orange, Overprinted
Imperf; First British Occupation
By 1876, there was a faltering economy, native clashes, and internal dissension within the South African Republic. With the "acquiescence of at least part of the European population", the British moved in to occupy the lands.

With the occupation of the British in 1877, Type "A1" and "A2" "Coat of Arms" stamps were overprinted.

The 1877-79 issue had six stamps as imperforate (illustrated), and six stamps as rouletted 15 1/2, 16.

1878 Scott 76 6p blue/blue, Overprinted
Imperf; First British Occupation
CV for the 1877-79 First British Occupation overprinted issue is $20+ - $50 for nine stamps.

The "13" concentric circle should refer to a particular town?

1878 Scott 100 4p olive green"Victoria"
During the first British occupation, a "Queen Victoria" seven stamp engraved set was released between 1878-80. CV is $5+-$9+ for four stamps.

Note the concentric circle "11". Which town?

1883 Scott 120 3p red "Coat of Arms"
After the first Boer War, the independence of the South African Republic was recognized by the August 8, 1881 Convention of Pretoria- known as the "Second Republic".

The "Queen Victoria" issue of 1878-80 remained valid, and some were used  as postage up to 1885.

Types of the 1869-71 issue in perf 12 were produced in 1883 (illustrated).  The four stamps have different colors than the preceding 1869-71 issue.

There are "reprints" (actually forgeries) of this issue. According to the SG catalogue, "pale red" for the 4p is the color of the genuine, while  "dull deep orange- red" is a "reprint".

CV is $3-$7+ for the issue.

1885 Scott 129 4p bronze green Reprint
"Coat of arms"
The 1885-93 thirteen stamp issue is shown here. CV is <$1-$3+ for ten stamps.

Unfortunately, this is the beginning of the numerous "reprints" (forgeries). The "reprints" were produced from original plates from 1911 onward. As the "reprints" are made from the original plates, they cannot be readily distinguished.

The best bet is find a (genuine) used stamp. The reprints tend to be unused, or CTO, but unfortunately even SON can be reprints. ;-(

The paper for reprints is usually whiter and thinner than the originals. The perfs are all 12 1/2, with large perf holes. The originals also can be perf  12 1/2, but also perf  13 1/2, 11 1/2 X 12, 12 1/2 x 12.

Unfortunately, even with these guidelines, separating genuines from reprints is an inexact science, in my opinion.

I was going to do a comparison between "genuine" and "reprints", but even my so called 'genuine" stamps could be reprints, I realized. 

1885 Scott 140 1/2p on 3p violet
Black Surcharge
Beginning in 1885, one can find vertically surcharged specimens in red or black (five stamps).  CV is $7+-$10+ for three stamps.

Unfortunately, forged surcharges have been made on "reprint" stamps.

1893 Scott 144 1/2p on 2p olive bister
Black Surcharge
In 1893, there were red or black horizontal surcharged specimens on five stamps released.CV is <$1-$7 for the issue.

1894 Scott 151 6p blue "Coat of Arms"
Wagon with Two Shafts
In 1894, a "Wagon with Two Shafts" issue on five stamps was released. Rife with reprints.

The trick to determine if the stamp is a 1894 example is to examine the wagon.

Wagon with two Shafts closeup
There are two Disselboom (Afrikaans) types- referring to the wagon pole. Here, there are two shafts.

1895 Scott157 4p slate Reprint
Wagon with Pole
The 1895-96 nine stamp issue is defined by the "Wagon with Pole" type.

CV is <$1-$1+ for seven stamps.

Note: I am showing obvious reprints, because at least I know that is what they are. ;-)

Wagon with pole closeup
Note the single wagon pole (one shaft) for the 1895-96 issue.

1895 Scott 163 1p on 2 1/2p purple
Green Surcharge
In 1895, several (Scott 127, 159) were surcharged in red or green. CV is <41.

"1895 Scott 164 6p rose Revenue stamp, Green OP"
Probable Counterfeit
In 1895, a revenue stamp (illustrated) was overprinted for postal use. CV is $2+. The genuine has a rose color. The counterfeit has a dark red color, and has a shiny green ink overprint. I suspect this is a counterfeit.

1895 Scott 165 1p red, Lithographed
"Coat of Arms, Wheat Field and Railroad Train"
CTO postmarks
In 1895, for "Penny Postage" in the South African Republic, this delightful design was released, using lithography. CV is $2+.

What is this? Two identical postmarks in my collection? No doubt, CTOs!

What a quagmire of fakery this country is turning out to be. :-(

1896 Scott 167 1p rose & green Reprint
Arms Type of 1895-96 with Pole
An issue, based on the Arms Type of 1895-96, but with the denomination printed in green, was produced in 1896 on nine stamps. Perf is 12 1/2. CV is <$1-$3+.

Reprints are plentiful. (And that is what I am showing.)

1900 Scott 205 2 1/2p ultramarine & green Reprint
Second British Occupation- Issued under Military Authority
The Second Boer War began on October 11, 1899, and the second British occupation began on June 5, 1900. A civilian post office was set up in Pretoria by June 18, 1900.

"V.R.I." (Victoria Regina Imperatrix) overprints were applied to previous South African Republic issues, and released beginning on June 18,1900.  The twelve stamps in the issue have a CV that ranges from <$1 to $4+ for nine stamps.

This issue was extensively overprinted counterfeited.

Genuine overprint: letters worn, tend to lack serifs, the periods are large and oval, The three periods are never in exact alignment with the bottom of the letters.

Counterfeit overprint: letters clear and clean, with small periods. The three periods are always in alignment with the bottom of the letters.

1900 Scott 230 1sh bister & green
Handstamped in Violet; Issued in Rustenburg
I also picked up for a nominal price this so called "Rustenburg" issue stamp, which is handstamped in violet. This was produced in 1900 on eight stamps, and has a very expensive CV ($100+-$1,000+).

But my stamp was already labeled a forgery. Indeed, comparing the "V.R." illustration in Scott versus this handstamp shows differences.

1901-02 Scott 248 1p rose & green Reprint
Regular Issues Overprinted
Likewise, a "E.R.I." overprint was applied in 1901-02 to the six stamp issue during the Edwardian monarchy.

The same discussion regarding "V.R.I." genuines/counterfeits applies here.

1902 Scott 253 1p rose & black "Edward VII"
Wmk 2
The "Transvaal" era proper began with the Edward VII issues. The 1902-03 sixteen stamp bi-color issue is on watermark "Crown and C A" (Wmk 2) paper. Note the lower denominations have "Postage" and "Revenue" vertical script along each side respectively.

CV is <$1-$5 for eight stamps.

1907 Scott 275 1sh red brown & black "Edward VII"
Wmk 3
The 1904-09 thirteen stamp bi-color issue is on Wmk 3 ("Multiple Crown and C A") paper. Note the higher denominations of the Edwardian issues have "Postage" and "Postage" vertical script along each side respectively.

1905 Scott 281 1/2p green "Edward VII"
Between 1905-10, four stamps in monocolor for "Edward VII" were issued. CV is <$1 for three stamps.

1907 Scott J3 2p brown orange
The 1907 seven stamp postage due issue is rather functional. CV is $1-$5 for four stamps.

Scott has a note that most of the cancelled examples of this issue were outside Transvaal during the Union of South Africa era 1910-16.

retroReveal J3 cancel- Umkomass, SA
Indeed, retroReveal shows my example was cancelled from Umkomass, SA in June, 1914, -  on the SA coast, and not within the Transvaal province.

Deep Blue
1904-09 Wmk 3 "Edward VII" Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has twenty-one pages for the stamps of Transvaal, and includes a space for all the Scott major numbers. The first nine pages (First Republic (1869-1870) issues and First British Occupation (1877-1880) issues) are mostly empty in my collection.

1878 Scott 98 1p red brown "Victoria"
First British Occupation
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 1 1/2 pages, has 52 spaces. Coverage is 18%.

Fortunately, BB ignores the expensive 1869-1879 issues ( 117 major numbers), and begins coverage with the 1885-93 Second Republic issues.

There is only one "expensive" (CV $10) stamp required for the spaces.




148 or 153, 149 or 154, 150 or 155, 156,157,151 or 158,159,



Next Page

252 or 268, 253 or 269, 254 or 270, 255 or 271, 256 or 272,

257 or 273, 258 or 274, 260 or 275,


Postage Due


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1910 Scott 284 2 1/2p ultramarine ($10)
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1894-1896- 1894 "Wagon with Two Shafts" issue vs 1895-96 "Wagon with Pole" issue for space choices.
D) *1902-09- Wmk 2 vs Wmk 3 for space choices.

1905 Scott 274 6p brown orange & black
Wmk 3, "Edward VII"
Out of the Blue
What can I say - the stamp issues are very challenging, and the history is not pretty.

I must admit I have not warmed up to South African Republic/Transvaal. A real mess for the WW classical era non specialist, in my opinion.

Note: Map and Boer War pics appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?

Boer Women and Children in a Concentration Camp


  1. Mirza Hadi made quite an impression (mess?) with Transvaal stamps.
    He may have acquired in 1911 as much as 3-5 million printed issues.
    Most of his were sold in stacks of 4 per blocks for a few franks - a good way to identify reprints.
    When he sold full sheets, he cut off the selvage to save postage.
    Although the printers, Enschede denied it, it's a good bet that he probably acquired the printing plates.
    The ones he "printed" I believe were on slightly different paper.
    South Africa, Persia, Rhodesia were others of his stock.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. StampsWorld-thanks for fleshing out the activities of Mirza Hadi, and perhaps ways to identify reprints.

  2. another excellent post Jim that shows how the dramatic history of a region is reflecting in its philatelic history. We must not forget though that while the Boers went through a period of intense suffering (and near genocide from the British use of concentration camps) at the hands the British during the Boer Wars, at the same time their treatment of the majority native African populations under their rule was anything but benevolent, developing policies which in the twentieth century would culminate in the adoption of the Apartheid system by the (at that point) Boer-dominated South African state.

    1. Thanks Gene for that reminder.

      Many and sharp the num'rous ills
      Inwoven with our frame!
      More pointed still we make ourselves
      Regret, remorse, and shame!
      And man, whose heav'n-erected face
      The smiles of love adorn, –
      Man's inhumanity to man
      Makes countless thousands mourn!
      Robert Burns