Introduction by Otto Peetoom
|Many years ago I began
asking philatelists what they considered to be the Union’s
rarest varieties, my question seemed to surprise most people and
their tentative replies varied considerably.
Having researched the Union varieties on and off for some time,
I have accumulated numerous illustrations, mainly from auction
The aim is to determine the numbers that might exist and also
to attempt reconstructing the relevant sections of original pieces.
It is a pity that so little has been published on the major varieties
of the Union and I hope that my articles might attract further
input providing a considerable contribution to South African philately.
In general most people regard the double print on the 1913
½d King’s head as South Africa’s rarest variety
and for many years it was the highest priced Union item in the
Stanley Gibbons catalogue. Visually I do not find it impressive
and on the five known examples the doubling on each stamp varies
from seventy to ten percent. As a result I have not been tempted
to acquire this particular variety.
The major Union varieties include double prints, missing colours,
watermark, overprint and perforation errors. An inverted centre
exists on the 1927 10/- Table Mountain definitive. Five examples
were found in the famous Charles Nissen stock sold to Stanley
Gibbons in October 1977 for a price of £861,000. This
impressive variety is said to have come from printers waste.
The Union Handbooks are a wealth of information, the last edition
appeared in 1986, one would anticipate that this ought to be the
most up to date, comprehensive and accurate publication, but sadly
it is not.
I have often heard collectors complain as to why Gibbons do
not list certain variations, however in the front of each Stanley
Gibbons catalogue under Information and Guide lines
a clear and specific criteria is given as to which types of
varieties they do or do not list.
Other specialized publications that include odd ball errors
and varieties, some caused by intrusions, fold over’s
or mis-perforation include the defunct Robemark loose leaf catalogue,
the current South African Stamp Colour Catalogue and of course
the various editions of the Union Handbook.
Many of their listings are beyond the scope of the Stanley Gibbons
catalogue. Several Stamp dealers, myself included, have often
contributed to the discovery, listing and pricing of Union varieties.
My first claim to fame was in early 1980’s when I bought
a 2d Official pair as SG 035, but it proved to an inverted overprint,
now listed as SG 045a.
|To fully appreciate
the value of the Union Handbooks it is necessary to work through
each edition and carefully extract the relevant information.
early handbooks were produced by individuals such as G.W. Reynolds
1924 - 25, J. Ritchie 1926 and L. Simenhoff in 1931. In 1946
The Philatelic Federation of Southern Africa took over the task
of producing a handbook. Their next edition appeared in 1952
followed by a Part II in 1955, then the 1960 Golden Jubilee
edition combined the foregoing and the last two were published
in 1979 & 1986.
I have noticed that certain items listed in the early handbooks
were excluded in later editions. I believe the reason for this
was that some varieties effectively ‘disappeared’
- they were not seen or traded and some of the Union’s
rarest varieties remained in the hands of the same families
Price comparisons between varieties in early
editions set against prices in subsequent handbooks, are useful
and a worthwhile exercise. I noticed that some of the rarest
items were forgotten or neglected and in later editions were
either grossly devalued or simply deleted.
For example in Simenhoff’s 1931 catalogue a Professor
J.J. Smith is named as being the owner of the double prints
on the ½d Kings head and the 1926 ½d Springbok.
Smith passed away in June 1949, his obituary appeared in the
August 1949 S.A.P. and his collection also included a unique
block of eight of the unhyphenated 3d Groote Schuur missing
the frame colour completely on five stamps and partially on
the other three.
The 3d missing frame featured in the1946 Handbook valued at
£40 and at that time the ½d Kings Head double
print was quoted at £60. The 1952 edition included the
3d variety unpriced and it was omitted from the 1960 - 1986
handbooks. After 60+ years in the Smith family, several of
their important varieties were sold and the 3d block of eight
appeared in an April 2000 Stephan Welz sale, Stanley Gibbons
listed it the following year as SG 45f and it is now the highest
priced South African stamp.
Another forgotten major variety was the 1926
½d Springbok with a double print, only three pieces
are known. In my opinion it is more impressive and rarer than
the one on the ½d Kings head and this was reflected
in the 1946 handbook pricing the Springbok at £90, fifty
percent higher than the Kings head.
Yet the Springbok double print also slid into obscurity, not
deleted from the handbook, but devalued out of all proportion
and in the 1986 edition it slid to a mere R2,000 against R10,000
for the ½d Kings head. Thus in a period of forty years
its value went from being 50% higher to 80% lower.
The Smith collection included a lower corner marginal strip
of five of the ½d Springbok, the first stamp doubled
completely and the second approximately half. Sold by Stephan
Welz in November 1999 for R77,000 (£8,000).
It made its debut in the 2002 Stanley Gibbons catalogue priced
at a mere £300! In 2012 it was quoted at £3250
and then surprisingly it shot up to £20,000 in the 2014
½d Springbok with Double Print of Frame SG
By Otto Peetoom
Variety reported under this
heading in the
July 1926 The South African
Philatelist on page 60.
Johannesburg philatelist, Mr Alex Bronks, has acquired a sheet
of the halfpenny pictorial showing the green frame doubly printed
on six stamps in the bottom left-hand corner, two stamps having
the frame completely double printed, the second impression not
being complete on the other copies. An illustration will appear
in our next issue.
The South African Philatelist
Sadly no illustration, a three line note on page 66 explained,
that owing to the variety having changed hands no illustration
was forthcoming but they hoped to include it in the very near
I looked through the rest of the 1926 (missing the December
issue) and also the 1927 and 1928 S.A.P.’s - no illustration.
In the July 1928 The South
African Philatelist under Familiar
names there is a picture of Mr A. Bronks, the notes indicate
that he was a stamp dealer and an advertisement in the S.A.P.
confirms this and his premises located at 16, Old Arcade, Market
J. Ritchie listed the variety in his 1926 handbook
and so did L. Simenhoff in his 1931 catalogue.
The varieties on the sheet were split into three units and described
by Simenhoff as:-
a) Double printed frame plate,
half stamp; row 17, No.1 (in strip) £25.
b) As a, but one complete stamp
and two partially. Row 18, No.1, row 19 No’s 1 and 2 (in
strip) Collection H.T. Jones £95.
c) As a, but one complete stamp
and one half. Row 20
No’s 1 and 2 in corner strip - Collection Prof. J.J. Smith
one, Double Print - On row 17/1
Approximately forty percent of the frame is doubled being
a diagonal area covering the left corner. The contemporary
report did not note that the stamp above on R16/1 also has
a small area of doubling in its lower left corner.
The variety is not in a strip as stated by Simenhoff, but
is part of a left marginal block of
forty two (6 x 7) being the first six stamps from rows 11
Part of a marginal arrow is opposite the first stamp on row
This multiple was in the Lamont Smith collection sold by Stephan
We1z on 14 June 1989 as lot 426
Estimated R3000-4000 it realized R7,344 (£1,690)
The second impression (doubling)
of the frame on R17/1 extends upwards into the lower left
corner of the first stamp on row 16.
Lamont Smith Sale
The collection consisted of a host of varieties and specialized
material from Southern Africa and the buyers, often with a limited
budget, were spoilt for choice. With almost 360 lots of South
Africa in this sale it meant that lot 426, with the double print
on the ½d Springbok, might easily be overlooked and the
item did not even qualify for a colour illustration. This variety
is illustrated in Runner & Mailcoach (1969) by
Rosenthal & Blum opposite page 145.
two - Double Prints on rows 18 and 19
Illustration Courtesy of Spink
Unit two - Double
Prints on rows 18 and 19:
Ex H.T. Jones it was later included in the Jacob (Jack)
B. Bloom collection.
Jack passed away in 1992 and his collection remained in the
hands of his family for many years and effectively locked
away many of the Union's sought after rarities.
Jack's example of the ½d double print was partially illustrated
in the 1979 edition of the Union handbook opposite page 91 and
left a question mark over the actual size of the unit. The foregoing
illustration showed six stamps with three affected by doubling.
The frame on the stamp from R19/1 is completely doubled, whereas
on R18/1 it appears around 85% and approximately 20% double
Bloom's Union collection was auctioned by Spink on 24 October
2013 and lot 2072 revealed a ½d block of twelve with
the double print varieties, offered at £12,000 - 15,000
it sold for its top estimate - I was the underbidder!
three - Double Frame on Row 20
Courtesy of Murray Payne
Unit three - double
frame on row 20:
This multiple is a lower left corner marginal strip of five
with three normal stamps.
Complete doubling on R20/1 and approximately half on R20/2.
Ex Professor J. J. Smith collection, it was sold by Stephan
Welz on 30 November 1999 as lot 388 - estimated R60, 000-80,000
it realized R77,000 (£8,000). This strip reappeared in
a 1 November 2006 Warwick & Warwick sale as lot estimated
at £5500 and sold for £5405 - In my opinion, someone
got a bargain.
The lucky Buyer sold his Union collection through Murray Payne
and this famous strip was lot 449 in Auction No 14 on 12 March
2013. Estimated at £7500 against a catalogue value of
£3250, it sold for a justifiable £17,500 - I was
½d Springbok with Watermark Sideways SG
By Otto Peetoom
Ex the 1926 London 2/6 Booklet SB5
During 2009 a ½d used vertical
pair from a booklet pane, perforation 13½ x 14 and cancelled
BARBERTON 24 OCT 27 was submitted to the Royal Philatelic Society's
Expert Committee by Tony Howgrave-Graham. On 15 July was granted
a certificate No 202972 stating it is geniune. Next it appeared
in the SACS Leamington Spa Auction and I bought it.
Currently this pair is the only example of this particular variety
and the Stanley Gibbons listing is entirely based on this particular
Two impressions of the Springbok head watermark
can be clearly seen at each end of the stamps
Typographed ½d Springbok Pictorial - Imperforate at left
to margin - UHB 33 V20
The above Article
will appear shortly
- 29 Pretoria Typographed 1d Ship Pictorial
Imperforate on three or four sides
By Otto Peetoom
Figure 1 |
At the particular
point in time when this error was found we may anticipate that
its discovery would have been reported in The South African
Philatelist but coincidently the S.A.P. was not published
during the period January 1928 to January 1931.
I searched through copies of the foregoing starting from the
February 1931 edition but drew a blank and the 1931 Standard
Catalogue of the POSTAGE STAMPS of the Union of South Africa
by Simenhoff plus his February 1932 Supplement reveal no mention
of the variety in question.
Finally in the next edition of the Union Handbook catalogue,
published by the Philatelic Federation of Southern Africa in
1946, there appears the first listing of two perforation varieties
attributed to the Pretoria Typographed 1d Ship stamp from Plate
No 35Vr. Lists: Imperforate
three sides (one stamp in pair) and No 35Vs. Imperforate
four sides (one stamp in pair)
The 1d Plate 3 includes a marginal characteristic
of having three cuts in the Jubilee lines in the bottom right
corner of each sheet. THE SHIP PENNY by Gordon Ward
classifies Plate 3 as ISSUE No 4, dated 12 August 1929.
Ward does not mention the above perforation varieties.
The 1952 Union Handbook/Catalogue includes an
illustration of a lower marginal block of four; the two vertical
stamps on the left side are Imperforate on three sides, but
it does not specify that the variety occurred on plate 3.
As a result of the foregoing, the remaining Editions of the
Handbooks - 1960, 1979 & 1986 list the imperforates under
General varieties - Issues 1 to 3 and in the 1986 edition they
are UHB 34 V39 & 40.
The South African Colour Catalogue only lists a 1d
Imperforate pair as SACC 30Pe,
but does not specify whether its format is horizontal or vertical.
In 1995 the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Catalogue included
1d Ship perforation variations for the first time and their
SG 31a Imperf (vert pair) & SG 31b
Imperf 3 sides (vert pair).
In a footnote we are informed that:
Both Nos. 31a and
31b occur in blocks of four with the other vertical pair imperforate
On the London printings of the 1d Typographed
sheets the perforation comb moved from left to right and in
Pretoria the operation moved from right to left.
Each stroke of the comb perforated
one vertical row plus the top & bottom of the stamp to the
left of vertical.
Should the machine miss one beat of its intended sequence it
will create a complete imperforate vertical row plus each stamp
at left imperforate at top & bottom. In this manner the
result produces one vertical row of stamps that is imperforate
on three sides with the left vertical side perforated.
This variety is UHB 34 V40 (1986 Edition) and is meant to correspond
with SG 31b, although I am not aware of the existence of any
mutilated vertical pair as described in the Stanley Gibbons
The block of four in Figure
1 illustrates an authentic example of a three sided imperforate
variety. In a December 2011 Feldman auction, their sale included
a used block of four cancelled at Johannesburg in 1934.
Imperforate on four sides UHB 34 V39 (1986 Edition)
Should the single comb perforator
miss two consecutive beats it would then create one vertical
row with stamps imperforate on all four sides and the adjacent
vertical row with its stamps imperforate on three sides.
I created a facsimile, illustrated as
Figure 2, that demonstrates how
it ought to look. Such a unit or a strip of three would prove
beyond doubt that the centre stamp has four sides imperforate.
Should one remove the middle vertical pair, it will match the
Stanley Gibbons description of SG 31a. Known pairs and blocks
seen are without the left stamp with three sides imperforate
which does cast doubt on their authenticity.
A pair with all four sides imperforate, accompanied by a 1965
P.F.S.A. certificate stating it is genuine is accompanied by
a letter from the P.F.S.A. dated 24 September 1965 providing
amplification for the certificate and reads:
These stamps were perforated by a single row comb lying
vertically on the sheet and reapplied to each vertical column
in sequence. When applied with the horizontal teeth to the left
of the vertical, which was usual, one beat of the perforator
dealt simultaneously with the right side, top and bottom of
every stamp in the vertical column.
If a beat was missed, the right side, top and bottom were left
imperforate. If only one beat was missed, this produced the
error Imperforate on three sides
which is catalogued.
If two successive beats were missed, such an error was produced
se tenant horizontally with a stamp totally imperforate.
therefore follows that if the left hand stamp of your pair
has the right side imperforate (as it obviously has) it
must have both top and bottom imperforate also, even though
cut off above the level of the perforation holes.
The real question therefore was, could the left side be
accepted as imperforate?
This is accepted as so by the Committee.
A block of four, illustrated above as Figure
3, may raise a similar question as to whether the
left side is really imperforate. In my opinion the margin
on the left is wide enough to suggest it is genuine.
A block ex Thys Rall featured in a 1 July 1992 Stephan
Welz sale as lot 157 creates further confusion as
the bottom lower right stamp appears imperforate at
In this instance a portion of perforations were trimmed
off leaving only one isolated perforation at its extreme
South East corner.
Imperforate horizontal pairs
Should the single comb perforator
miss three consecutive beats it would create a sheet which
includes two vertical rows with the stamps imperforate
on all four sides plus an adjacent left vertical row with
its stamps imperforate on three sides. Complete imperforate
horizontal pairs may be taken from such a sheet.
I am aware of only two multiples that suggest that this
version exists; the 1979 UHB illustrated a block of eight
(ex Naylor) on Plate XXIII opposite page 98.
Stephan Welz & Co. in their 23 May
2001 sale offered as lot 566 a block of twenty in lot
566 - illustrated in Figure 5.
We may again cast some doubt
as to whether it is actually the product of three missing
beats of a comb perforator, if it is why would anyone
remove the vertical row on the left?
Could it originate from a sheet with two missing beats
with the vertical perforations at the left trimmed off?
However the illustrated block does confirm that there
was a sheet with at least two consecutive missing beats
and the variety on a 1d Ship with four imperforate sides
is 100% genuine.
Article appeared in the April 2012 S.A.P.
Illustrations from Stephan Welz Auctions 1989 (Lamont Smith) 1992
(Thys Rall) & 2001
Illustration of Figure 3 - Eddie Bridges collection
P.F.S.A. Expert Committee (1965)
Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalogue - Hugh
Jefferies (Catalogue Editor)
The Ship Penny by Gordon Ward
The South African Colour Catalogue
Union hand books - 1931 - L. Simenhoff, 1946,
1952, 1960, 1979 & 1986 (all P.F.S.A.)
10/- TABLE MOUNTAIN with CENTRE INVERTED SG 39a
By Otto Peetoom
The variety is more than likely Printer's waste
that left Bradbury via the back door & came into the possession
of the famous London dealer Charles Nissen.
Stanley Gibbons bought the 'Nissen
Stock' in October 1977 for £861,000 and amongst this holding
was found a block of four and a single of the 10/- Table Mountain
each with an Inverted Centre.
Article was Published in the October 2011 edition of The
South African Philatelist
||From the known examples
it appears that most of the vertical perforation were split thus
it was practical to create two vertical pairs. There is also a
single example with a wide margin that is detached from the stamp
& has been rejoined.
During the late 1970's & early Eighties Stanley Gibbons
initially attempted to market the variety in South Africa. I
believe it may have been offered in one of SG's early South
African auctions, but there were no takers.
Collecting stamps with inverted images is very popular in America.
Thus the 10/- inverted Table Mountain found ready buyers on
the US market.
The top marginal pair featured in Feldman's 11-14 November
1986 Sale as lot 50765. Estimated SF 50,000 with a start price
of 30,000 & sold for 42,000 Francs
This vertical pair featured in an article in an Australian
stamp magazine called The Stamp Collector.
In their December - January, 1993 issue on pages 12 & 13
there is a two page article entitled
The Union of South Africa - The King's Head and
the Pictorials by Mogens Juhl, FRPSL. He described
the variety as: The Jewel of the Union's Stamps
& provided an illustration.
||Ivy Shreve Mader in
their 9 - 10 March 1992 New York sale offered the single example
as lot 959. Their description stated that it has a 1979 BPA certificate
that notes “Uncertain Status”
During the San Francisco International in 1997, this single
was for sale on an American dealer’s stand. Alan Macgregor
& I shared a stand at this show & we jointly purchased
the variety. It was sold to a wealthy collector in South Africa
& as far as I am aware he still owns it.
The former owner of the corner marginal pair, sold in June
2009, belonged to the late Mr Robert Cunliffe. I met him during
the late 1990's at the Rare stamp show in London (think it was
We had a chat about the Upside Down Mountain
Given its sale price of $50,000 I feel certain that it was
more than likely that the buyer is another collector of inverts
rather than a Union collector.
The Controversial Listing of SG 39a By Stanley Gibbons
In the Gibbons catalogue their policy is to list &
price South African bilingual stamps as pairs. Varieties such
as missing colours are only listed as singles whenever the Country
name is missing.
For instance the Frame omitted on a 1d Ship, 3d Groote Schuur
& 1/- Gnu - SG 43b, 45f, 56b & 62a.
So why price SG 39a as a single when two bilingual pairs exist?
It appears that this was done as a ‘Marketing Policy’
in order to make allowance for the single example. My own thoughts
are that it would not go amiss if SG was to add a footnote to