Earlier works on Union
Philately were by individuals such as Rich, Ritchie
and G.W. Reynolds. The latter was the first Editor
of The South African
Philatelist from February 1923
to August 1924. When Reynolds relocated from Johannesburg
to Durban, he handed the reins of the SAP to H. Blom
and he remained the Editor until December 1925. J.
Robertson, a well known dealer, took over in January
1926. During the early 1960, as a schoolboy, I used
buy my stamps from Robertson who was located in the
Old Arcade in Johannesburg.
During the late 1920’s
L. Simenhoff compiled a manuscript which, with the
assistance of A.E. Basden of the Pretoria Philatelic
Society, was published in 1930 and entitled
Standard Catalogue of the Postage Stamps of the Union
of South Africa. Over the years
the foregoing and its subsequent editions are usually
referred to as the UNION HANDBOOK or UHB. A supplement
to Simenhoff’s book appeared in February 1932.
The 1946 Edition
In the late 1920’s
the Philatelic Federation of South Africa came into
being and as maybe anticipated they took over the
rights of Simenhoff’s publication. An updated
version, with the same title, appeared in 1946. Quite
appropriately the Editors of the foregoing book were
Basden and Simenhoff. Acknowledgements went to several
well known Philatelists such as Adler, Bishop, Kotze,
Lichtenstein, Harvey Pirie, Sydow, Axer, Bevis, Crockett,
Legator, Lyle, Robertson, Webb and Wright.
The Natal Philatelic Society had it printed in Durban
and thanked for their support and distribution of
The 1952 Edition
In June 1950 the PFSA
saw the need for a new edition and that appropriately
appeared in 1952. It coincided with the Tercentenary
of the landing of Van Riebeeck and the International
Stamp Exhibition held in South Africa.
This book was compiled by an elected Committee and
the Editors were Dr Alec Kaplan, Sam Legator and William
Sheffield. Its title was amended
HANDBOOK / CATALOGUE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA STAMPS.
Personally I am of the opinion that it is the best
version of the UHB that was published.
The 1955 Edition
In 1955 an update referred to as
Volume II appeared and the Editors
Berry, Hagger, Legator and Sheffield wrote in their
milestone has been the abolition of the overprinted
“OFFICIAL” stamps and finally, the acceptance
by the Government and the Philatelic Federation of
Southern Africa of the status of the Darmstadt Trials.
which we are sure will be appreciated, is the inclusion
of the BIBLIOGRAPHY at the end of each section. These
articles which have appeared in the SOUTH AFRICAN
PHILATELIST for over twenty years. The
foregoing was an excellent innovation that immediately
died in the next edition.
The 1960 Edition
The same Editors combined the 1952 and 1955 Volumes
into one and further updated the Handbook. It was
hailed as the GOLDEN JUBILEE EDITION
and in the Introduction the Editors commented:
Further it was appreciated
that there could be no more auspicious occasion to
publish this new work than 1960, the fiftieth anniversary
of the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
The 1964 additional
Section Part II
This part of the ongoing updates to the Union Handbook
is almost an obscure section of the UHB and is not
often encountered. When consulting the UHB, my first
instinct is to look in the 1952 edition, bypass 1960
and 1964 and take onboard what was said in the 1979
reprint and finally consult the 1986 UHB.
The 1979 Edition
This edition was effectively a reprint and stop gap
in the market until a new revised edition could be
collated and it took a further seven years before
it eventually saw the light of day.
Ralph Putzel, from Collectors Mail
Auctions, got himself involved in the production of
the 1979 UHB. Putzel is well known for his other publications
on the Post Offices and cancellations of South Africa
and South West Africa.
In the introduction Putzel wrote:
For some time now pressure
amongst collectors has been building up for a new
edition of the South African Handbook. As this is
a tremendous task solely handled nowadays by Mr S.J.
Hagger R.D.P.S.A., it will still be some time before
a comprehensive new work is ready.
Handbook is now virtually unobtainable and as there
are hundreds of new collectors of Southern Africa,
the Publishing Committee of the PFSA decided early
in 1979 to order a Reprint of the 1960 (Golden Jubilee)
Edition plus the additional Section (Part II) published
Two features of the 1979 UHB are worth
mentioning, on the plus side - Almost fifty photo
plates of important items were inserted into the book.
Whenever researching any specific subject I have on
several occasions referred to them.
The worst feature of the book is the binding, it refuses
to stay open and I have often felt like throwing it
into the nearest bin!
Stan Naylor wrote the Foreword
This edition will no doubt
become the definitive reference work for all serious
collectors of, and specialists in, the stamps of the
Union of South Africa.
I clearly recall when I first acquainted myself with
this edition; I was at the monthly Strand Stamp Fair
in London and walked around the corner to Vera Trinder
in Bedford street to buy it. The covers of the consignment
of books were slightly damaged (dented) in transit.
Being a dealer, I took immediate interest in the
prices and was shocked and disappointed that they
had been slashed to a point of ridicule. It soon became
apparent that if you needed to price any obscure Union
item, you looked in previous editions and adjusted
the figure by comparing the current price of other
The range of shades found on the various printings
of the Union definitives that were so meticulous listed
in the 1952 UHB were no longer apparent as Hagger
simply lumped everything together. This is not something
I anticipate in a so called specialist handbook. For
a great many years The
South African Philatelist published
the quarterly reports from the Government Printer
detailing dates and printing figures.
None of this information appears in the UHB and students
of Union Philately will need to gain access to old
editions of The
South African Philatelist in
order to study such data.
Observations on Research Versus
Whenever I research anything to do with the Union,
I systematically trawl through every edition of the
Union Handbooks and then supplement my search by looking
through The South
One of my ongoing projects is the major varieties
of the Union and to date I have published some of
my work in The South
African Philatelist, The Springbok and
more recently on the South African Collectors’
website. It may be of interest to some of
you that certain major varieties that were listed
in early handbooks were either deleted from the 1986
edition or devalued to a proportion that hinges on
In October 2013 Spink auctioned the late Jack Bloom
collection of South Africa. Lot 2188 delivered a pleasant
surprise a used 1953 4½d Merino Ram with yellow
omitted with a 1969 PFSA certificate and a comment
that two examples are recorded. I had not heard of
this variety before, but surely Hagger must have been
aware of it - Then why is it not listed in the 1986
Another recent interest is
the Screened Rotogravure definitives; I approach the
subject, as I so often do, by starting completely
from scratch. Because of the great number of printings
and shades found on the ½d and 1d my strategy
is to start from the other end i.e. working from the
high values back down to the ½d.
It required many days to extract all the printing
figures from The
South African Philatelist between
1949 and 1954.
To date I have covered the 5/-, 2/6, 1/-, 6d, 4d,
3d, and 2d and that also includes some of the values
overprinted OFFICIAL. Once I analyzed the data I referred
to the Union handbooks to see what else I might learn,
frankly...not a lot. Several later printings had larger
perforation holes, but the UHB does not say so.
In the 1986 UHB Hagger wrote in the
Wally Japha for his helpful
suggestions and proofreading covering the chapter
dealing with the Officials.
Does this imply that Japha compiled the Official section
in the 1986 handbook?
According to the data from the Government
Printer the first delivery of the Stereo type Officials
was 29 June 1950 for a ½d and 4 July 1950 for
the 2d, 6d, 1/-, 2/6 and 10/-. Clearly these Officials
would only be available in July 1950, but the 1986
UHB dates them June 1950.
The 1/- Screened rotogravure provides
fascinating study, listed as SG 120/120a and 047/047a.
The South African
Philatelist Government reports
indicate many Job numbers delivered in numerous batches
for cylinder 6926 6935 and two batches for cylinder
The 1/- Official overprints listed as SG 047/047a
were delivered in six batches between 4 July1950 and
27 January 1953.
The 1986 UHB on page 102 lists the
1/- as Group IV Issues 5 and 6 and 50B is said to
be found as Brown and blue.
Shades of chocolate, sepia to blackish brown and pale,
chalky or milky blue. What does the foregoing
do to assist the specialist... nothing!
There is no need to despair, simply locate the counterparts
of these stamps over printed OFFICIAL.
Six batches of stereo overprinted 1/- are all separately
listed with six UHB numbers and each and everyone
is allocated its own specific shade and there is:
UHB 0130 Jun 50 Chocolate & pale
blue SAP/Jul 50
UHB 0137 Mar 51 Sepia brown &
dark dull blue SAP/Dec
UHB 0143 Jun 51 Sepia & chalky
blue SAP/Mar 51
UHB 0150 6-9 52 Sepia & grey
blue SAP/Mar 52
UHB 0155 Feb 53 Dark sepia &
milky blue SAP/Jan 53
UHB 0162 1-7 54 Sepia & deep
violet blue SAP/Mar
In the first instance the range of
shades set out on page 102 includes sepia
brown, but not
sepia on its own or indeed dark
sepia. Dark dull blue, grey blue and deep
violet blue also fails to feature on page
102. Blue is a primary colour, lighter tints are achieved
by adding white and darker shades by adding black.
To comment on the above, on the one
hand the Official section delivers everything and
more to either make the Specialist a very happy person
or indeed to baffle such an individual completely.
If one gave an advanced collector a batch of 1/- Officials
and set the task of finding all six shades and placing
them in the correct order that individual would be
classified as a genius.
Only 0162 is easy to identify as it came from cylinder
66 3. The 1/- listed by SG as 120a/047a Blackish brown
and ultramarine is easily confused with one of the
shades found on cylinder 66 3, it would be helpful
if the Handbook said so.