Article was Published in South African Philately
No 4 (October
Prior to the turn of the twentieth century and from
the history of South African philatelic societies.
It may be appreciated that most of the societies tended
to falter and then spark back to life at a later date.
The pre-Union Stamp Exhibitions are
very important from a historical point of view, however,
as there were no collectable ‘souvenirs’
or a special datestamp. It would come as no surprise
if the majority of Southern Africa collectors are
not familiar with these events.(1)
At the time, when the first competitive Stamp Exhibition
in the Union took place, there were six philatelic
societies in the country. Johannesburg, Pretoria,
Durban, Bloemfontein, East London, Cape Town plus
one in Rhodesia.
This stamp show took place, thanks to the initiative
of the Philatelic society of Natal, thus
it was not a ‘National’ show let alone
‘the first international philatelic exhibition’
as incorrectly intimated by Reisener.(2)
Once again this is in short supply, at the time there
was no South African philatelic journal and the last
issue of South African Philatelic Advertiser and
Natal Philatelist No 13 appeared in May 1912.
The only source is either the local Natal press or
British philatelic journals.
Stanley Gibbons Monthly
31 July 1912 - Philatelic society
of Natal 20 June 1912 meeting
...A discussion as to the feasibility of a Philatelic
Exhibition during next winter season was the next
item on the bill of fare...
Finally it was resolved that ‘The Secretary
be asked to take steps to obtain an expression of
opinion on the subject from all existing South African
31 Oct 1912 - 5 September
Some discussions took place as to the classes
in the competitive section of the Exhibition which
the Society is organizing.
It was finally decided to leave the matter in the
hands of the Committee. The Secretary announced that
all arrangements in connection with the Exhibition
were progressing favourably.
Labels (3) advertising
the affair have been printed and supplies sent to
most of the philatelists in South Africa. Those who
have not yet received a supply should write to the
Stanley Gibbons Monthly
31 January 1913 South Africa Letter by Emil Tamsen...
In July 1913, we are going to have a Philatelic
Exhibition in Durban, under the auspices of the Natal
Philatelic Society and I hope it will be a success.
Durban, the Brighton of South
Africa, is simply lovely in July and everybody who
can possibly get away from the Transvaal runs down
to the sea. Consequently many collectors will be there
and thus there ought to be a good competition.
I look forward to seeing a really
good collection of Natal stamps. The 1869 - 70 issues,
Gibbons’ No’s 26 to 58, have always been
scarce here and I would like to see these well represented.
The first issue of 1857, No’s 1 to 7, are only
a matter of £ s. d., but the later issues afford
more philatelic study, especially as there are more
copies with forged than with genuine surcharges about
28 February 1913 - 23 January 1913 meeting
A donation of £5 to the Exhibition funds
from Mr C.A. MacDonald was acknowledged with thanks.
31 March 1913 - An undated
Natal Society report
The Guarantee Fund of the Exhibition now totals
£40, whilst donations to the amount of £8
7s have been received.
Messrs. Whitfield King and Co.
of Ipswich, have informed the Committee that they
intend exhibiting a large range of their popular albums.
The Committee of the Exhibition
have arranged with a large insurance company to effect
insurance on exhibits at the following rates:
9d per cent
Burglary...........5s per cent
As the Committee intend to employ
police officers to watch the exhibits day and night
and only locked glass cases are being used, intending
exhibitors will have no cause to be anxious regarding
the exhibits during the time they are in the custody
of the Committee.
Officers of the Staffordshire
Regiment, now stationed in Natal, interested in Philately,
have been made honorary members of the Society.
Anyone interested in the Exhibition
can obtain all information regarding the same from
the Honorary Secretary, Mr Norman Welsford, Box 588,
30 April 1913 - Another undated
The Hon. Secretary stated the Administrator of
Natal, Hon. C.J. Smythe, J.P. had accepted the nomination
of Patron of the Exhibition. Other nominations accepted
include: Hon. Vice-President, Mr W. Coleman, Postmaster,
Durban; Vice-President MR H.G. Mackeurtan.
1 Exhibitions held in Pretoria 1903
& 1906 plus Durban 1906. See Above
2 The Special Commemorative Postmarks,
cachets & covers of South Africa (1975) by
3 Advertising Labels
- Reisener illustrated one on page 191.
4 Information sourced from ABPS website
‘Who was who’
5 Tamsen states that three Gold Medals
were awarded, but lists six Gold medals for Sweden,
CGH, Transvaal x 2, Malta and Transvaal Forgeries.
Continued in next column
Durban Stamp Exhibition
30 June to 5 July 1913
An exhibition poster was illustrated in the October
1970 edition of The South African Philatelist.
It informs us that it was held at the Old Library
Buildings (Next to the Post office)
The Opening Ceremony by H.E. The Governor General
Lord Gladstone, P.C.
Admission on the opening day was 2/-, other
days 1/- or a season ticket for 3/6.
On the fiftieth Anniversary of this show an
article appeared in the August 1963 SAP by Sylvester
I have identified one of the
exhibition judges as George Blockey (1874 -
He was made a RDPSA in 1932.
Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal 1913
- 30 August 1913
South Africa Letter by
A full and detailed report on the Exhibition was
included by Tamsen and he wrote...The South African
Philatelic Exhibition was held in Durban, Natal, from
the 30th of June till the 5th of July (Open from Monday
to Saturday) and was a great success. Lord Gladstone,
the Governor-General of the South African Union, opened
In his speech he stated that he had never been
a stamp collector, except in so far that he once,
some fifty years ago, tried to accumulate a million
of penny British stamps, under the impression that
he was to get £100 on the completion of his
task, but he soon came to an end (evidently without
achieving his object).
He said that he was pleased to see the beautiful
and comprehensive collection exhibited, showing great
industry, perseverance and skill and that collecting
was an interesting pursuit and a valuable one, as
it led to the acquisition of useful knowledge, geographical,
historical, artistic and otherwise and that it deserved
to be encouraged.
He added that perhaps it was proper he should
perform the ceremony, as the representative of His
Majesty the King, who had one of the finest collections
in the world and who had given his patronage to the
Society and he declared the Exhibition officially
Personally I had not expected that the Natal
Philatelic Society would have got so many exhibits
together as they did; over sixty were sent in, besides
more than twenty of philatelic literature. Some of
the British Colonies were well represented, Canada
in two exhibits, Newfoundland in two, New Zealand
in three, but many were not represented at all. The
prizes were three Gold (5)
three Silver and three Bronze Medals for nineteen
Of European stamps there
were only three exhibits, Mr N. Welsford getting a
Gold Medal for Sweden...
The most important portion of the Exhibition was Class
‘Created specially to interest South African
There were eighteen exhibits... seven
Cape of Good Hope, four Natal, one Orange River Colony,
two Rhodesia, three Transvaal and one of Zululand
G.L. Allis, CGH - Gold and two Gold
Medals for Transvaal to J.W. Kayton Schofield and
Tamsen detailed all the other awards
and also described the various categories being: -
Class IV Junior collectors,
Class V collections of rare stamps,
not less than fifty and not more than one hundred.
Class VI British Colonials - a Gold for Malta.
Class VII ‘Philatelic Literature
Class VIII ‘The most suitable
album, book or device for a special collection’.
Class X ‘Special Arrangements
of Stamps’ Gold to Leon de Raay for ‘Collection
of Transvaal Forgeries’.
Class XI ‘Single Issues Specialized’
was a special post office on the premises with
a special postmark reading ‘S.A. Stamp
Exhibition, Durban’ and date (without
this no Philatelic Exhibition is complete nowadays);
the official in charge was kept pretty busy
The interesting point about the cancel is the
reversed ‘N’ of the word EXHIBITION
...About the financial side of
the Durban Exhibition I have not heard as yet, but
I fear there will be, as usual, a deficit, which the
guarantors will have to make good. The Exhibition
as such was a success and all credit is due to the
Natal Philatelic Society... End
of Tamsen’s Report
Comment on Gold Medals
in South African Philately No
5 (Feb 2017)
March 1920 edition
of The Union Philatelist an obituary for
Mr G.C. Herbert appeared and includes...his collection
of Mauritius was awarded a gold medal at the Durban
Exhibition of 1913...
Comment on Number
The South African Stamp Collector No 4, October
1916 in an article The Philatelic Society
of Natal - Its Genesis and Work it notes...the
Society should promote an Exhibition during the 1913
Durban Gala season...The entries numbered