History of South Africa 1896 - 1910 with emphasis on Transvaal
as the Economic centre
at 2011 Leamington Spa Weekend by Paul
Report by Otto Peetoom
display and talk by Paul is an ongoing subject as he has
presented the audience with earlier chapters of the History
in previous years.
The earlier story was published in The
South African Philatelist from the
February 2011 edition.
In his own style Paul entertains
those present which includes a South African habit of
throwing Afrikaans words into his dialogue. On this occasion
those who understand Afrikaans were relieved that none
of the characters in his story were given a klap (a slap)
by some disapproving party.
His talk starts with the failed1896 Jameson Raid, the
build up of Armour by the Transvaal funded by its gold.
President Kruger celebrated his birthday on 10 October
1899 followed by a declaration of War the following day.
Ladysmith is besieged and as the war progresses the British
outnumber the Boers. At Pietersburg stamps were issued
by the Boers to demonstrate that they were still in charge.
War ends, Gold must be mined and in 1904 Chinese labour
In December 1905 when the Conservative
government under Arthur Balfour collapsed, Smuts joined
Botha in London and sought to negotiate full self-government
for the Transvaal within British South Africa. Using
the thorny political issue of Chinese labourers, the
South Africans convinced Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
the Cabinet and Parliament to allow the Boers to run
the core of their economy.
In 1910 the Union of South Africa
came into being and although Botha was appointed Prime
Minister, Smuts was given three key ministries: those
for the Interior, the Mines and Defence. Undeniably,
Smuts was the driving force and visionary in South Africa.
recommended reading Chinese
Miner’s on the Rand, 1904 – 1910
By Franco Frescura The SA Philatelist October 2010.
Inverted Centres of South Africa and An Unchronicled
By Otto Peetoom
1902 KEVII Revenues are known with this particular variety
being the 2/6 and 5/- values - Sheets were printed in
two panes of sixty. As the 2/6 inverted centre is encountered
more often, the general consensus of opinion is, that
there were perhaps two sheets of the 2/6 value and only
one of the 5/-.
The Union of South Africa claim to fame is the 1927 London
10/- printing with an inverted Table mountain. Thought
to be printer’s waste and discovered in the Nissen
Stock after Stanley Gibbons acquired it in October 1977.
A single copy and two vertical pairs are the only known
examples of SG 39a.
KEVII ½d with an Inverted Centre
Has anyone seen this Item?
In the June 1926 edition of The South African Philatelist
on page 51 under a title An Unchronicled Error the following
One of the old hands in the Union
Postal Service, whom we have known for many years and
whose word we have no reason to doubt, asked us, in
the course of conversation the other day, whether the
halfpenny K.E. Transvaal, bi-coloured, was known with
the centre inverted. Such a variety not having come
to our notice, we asked for further information, where
upon an interesting story unfolded. When the bi-coloured
halfpenny was current, our informant was on the stamp
counter of the Johannesburg G.P.O.
One day, he said, an old Jew with his head closely guarded
by a bowler, bought a sheet of halfpenny labels from
one of the stamp clerks and departed with his purchase,
only to return a few minutes later with the query “Are
these all right?”, at the same
time passing his sheet across the counter.
The clerk, we were
told, noticed that on all the stamps the King’s
Head was inverted and replied to the effect that they
were not all right, and offered to exchange them for
another sheet. The customer, however, insisted on retaining
his stamps and departed with them. Our informant states
that, before handing the sheet back to its owner, his
fellow clerk showed him the sheet, and both he and his
mate realised that they were looking at something good.
Nothing more has been heard of the stamps, and although
the stamp clerks lost no time in examining their stock
no further sheets of the variety came to light. A watch
was, we were informed, kept on all the halfpenny stamps
for years afterwards, without result.
Perhaps some of our readers know something
of the above variety. If so, we shall be very glad to
hear from them. Incidentally, we may mention that the
postal official who unfolded that above story possesses
a copy of the fairly well known Transvaal K.E. 2/6 revenue
stamp with the inverted centre.
1. The Edwardian Stamps of the South African Colonies
by Brian Trotter page 242
2. Article in the October 2011 edition of The South
African Philatelist page 166/67 by Otto Peetoom
3. A Facsimile of a ½d KEVII inverted centre
Displayed at 2011 Leamington Spa Weekend by
Report by Otto Peetoom
This fascinating subject
was new to most of the audience and focuses on events
1899 - 1901 Boer War and Alan’s display includes
many interesting items of postal history & memorabilia.
Whenever the Boers retreated they blew up everything
of use and badly damaged the railway system. For the
British the movement of troops and equipment required
the control of the railways. In 1899 four Railway Pioneer
Corps were formed with the task of repairing the railways
damaged by the enemy.
Often temporary repairs were effected that would bypass
the damage and Alan’s display includes photographs
that demonstrates the foregoing.
The Railway Corps made use of Postal Stationery and
employed their own handstamps on private and official
These handstamps are either encountered as cachets or
at times used to cancel postage stamps. They used British
or Z.A.R. stamps & stationery and also operated
their own T.P.O.’s.
Alan pointed out that when using GB registered envelope
the rate was 2d and when they employed Z.A.R. envelopes
the rate was 3d. The various T.P.O.s consisted of a
Northern T.P.O. that went from Pretoria to Pietersburg
and the Western T.P.O. ran to Krugersdorp. The Midland
T.P.O. to Bloemfontein and possibly as far South as
the major junction of Naauwpoort some 30+ miles South
Eastern line to Lourenco Marques was important to the
Boer forces as it was their only access to the sea.
In the Eastern Transvaal the railway line from Pretoria
to Komatipoort went via Waterval Boven. This route consisted
of two T.P.O.s, one from Pretoria to Waterval Boven known
as the Eastern T.P.O. with a cancels coded A, B, C &
D. Between Waterval Onder and Komatipoort it was known
as T.P.O. East with cancellers No 1 & 2. The route
between Waterval Onder to Waterval Boven created constant
problems to the Pioneer Corps because it had to transverse
a steep incline plus a tunnel using two locomotives on
The Encyclopaedia of South African Post
Offices & Postal Agencies
Volume 4 by Ralph Putzel provides the
From Waterval Onder to Waterval Boven the line climbs
208 metres in 7.5 kms, from the Elands River Valley
and the Lowveld to the eastern edge of the Highveld
a gradient of 1:20. Consequently it was found necessary
to build a rack-railway over this distance, which passed
through a steep, curved tunnel near the waterfall.
Waterval Onder situated
90 metres below the waterfall on the Elands River:
During the Second Anglo-Boer War President Kruger
stayed there from July to August 1900 before his departure