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Books on South African Philately
New Book - Catalogue of the adapted German postmarks in
Southwest Africa after 1915

By Uwe Albert / Hans Koppe

In August 2016 the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Sammler Deutscher Kolonialpostwertzeichen e.V. (Study Group of the Collectors of German Colonial Stamps) issued a new publication, the first issue of the Catalogue of the adapted German postmarks in Southwest Africa after 1915.

The foreword with introduction is available in both German and English, which will allow also
non-German speaking collectors to use this catalogue. The postmarks are all shown in the original version as well as the adapted version with description of the changes done. For each cancel the known period of use is mentioned as well as estimation of the occurrence on the market. Market values in Euro for the cancels on entire are given. Also a coloured image of each cancel used on piece is shown.

This work is a comprehensive summary the complex area of the adapted postmarks of German Southwest Africa on 104 pages in 17 x 25 cm, coated softcover and high quality section sewn binding.

Price € 19.- + € 4.- international shipment.
This catalogue is only available direct from the Study Group and can also be paid through PayPal.

Reference address:
Harald Krieg; Keltenstr. 32; 41462 Neuss/Germany; e-mail:
(also for PayPal payment in Euro currency only).
More information (also in English) about the Study Group:

The Stamps of the Union of South Africa 1910 - 1961
The various Editions of this book is usually
Referred to as the Union Handbook (UHB) and
Perhaps revered by some as the Bible of the Union Stamp Issues
The last Edition appeared in 1986

Illustrated at right the front cover of the 1930 Edition
Compiled by L. Simenhoff - Published by the
Pretoria Philatelic Society
A Supplement was added in February 1932

A 1946 Edition was edited by Basden & Simenhoff and
For the first time published by the
Philatelic Federation of Southern Africa

A Review of the Union Handbook 1930 - 1986
By Otto Peetoom

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 book.

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
. 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 Introduction:

Another 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.

An innovation 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.

The old 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 in 1964.

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!


The 1986 Edition

Stan Naylor wrote the Foreword and concluded:
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 known items.

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 the
Union Handbook

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 African Philatelist.
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 the ridiculous.

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 UHB?

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 Preface:
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 66 3.
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 50
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 54

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.

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