Southern Africa Philatelic Conference 2008    

Some 30 members of one or more philatelic societies devoted to Southern Africa assembled at the Falstaff Hotel in Leamington Spa between 7 and 9 November. A now familiar format of longer displays occupied us on Saturday, shorter mostly one or two frame displays came on Sunday morning. The auction of some 400 lots followed on Sunday afternoon. Three dealers helped us to part with our spare cash.

The programme was once again varied in terms of types of material and geographical coverage. Eddie Bridges showed us Basutoland from missionary mail, through the Cape and Union administration and stamps to its own issues. The puzzle of a possible British Army establishment there during the Boer War was raised, as was the absence of information on postal stationery in recent listings.

Michael Smith displayed a comprehensive collection of postal stationery of the Orange River Colony 1900-1910. He was followed by John Sussex’s display of South West Africa from the German period to the use and overprinting of the Union¹s stamps followed up by its stationery, postage due and official stamps all overprinted for SWA.

South African airmails from early experimental flights to routine mail services were reviewed by Nick Arrow with some fascinating examples of services affected by the effects of bad weather or war.

Tony Howgrave-Graham treated us to the numerous sets of Official overprints on Union pictorials and wondered whether errors were deliberate or accidental such as the case of the diaresis.

Finally Sebastian Payne presented a Powerpoint typology of Union parcel cancellations. Their natural wastage and unpopularity make them unusual and rare.

The South African Collectors’ Society held its AGM just before an annual dinner at which Michael Smith was awarded the Tony Chilton Trophy for the best display of the day.

On Sunday morning, general displays by attendees commenced with John Shaw’s study of the 5/- Ox wagon Pictorial issue from the Bradbury Wilkinson recess printing to the stereo processed overprinted Official of 1954.

Tony Howgrave-Graham produced some rare early S.W.A. cancels which included, with others, an Otabe manuscript and some perished rubber marks from Otjiwarongo, Otavifontein and a temporary Brakwaser rail cancelation. Tony concluded with a cover from a P.O.W. officer in Albrecht’s Camp.

Routes and rates on Cape mail were brought to life by Robert Johnson who had divided the destination mail into distinct groups, domestic, clerical, political, military and trade / commerce. He showed, with other items, missionary mail from Finns and Germans and American whalers from Massachusetts.

Republican P.O. bulletins and official photographs of the early commemorative stamps and first definitive issue, circa 1961/3, formed the basis Godfrey Mellor’s display, augmented by the actual stamps.
Brian Hurst showed Bechuanaland ½d, 1d and 2½d stamps of 1903 including plates and overprint varieties.

The Boer invasion of North Natal was the subject of Richard Stock’s presentation.

Chris Board postulated that the Union ½d pictorial postal card, which had a ½d adhesive stamp added before circulation, was issued in 1931 prior to the 1d pictorial postal card which was issued later that year. Chris also showed how 24 of the 36 tourism publicity photographs which were produced by S.A. Railways for the Wembley exhibition, were used for the later ½d pictorial postal cards of 1934. This accounted for the non-sequential numbering, in black, on the reverse of the card.

Otto Peetoom displayed (almost) 100 years of Rhodesian postage due stamps and marks, from BSAC to 1979.

Alan Harley showed some examples of Z.A.R. mail interrupted because of the Boer war.

An interesting display on the 1910 Cape Town pageant, from Otto Peetoom, started the next session.  Paul van Zeyl then changed the emphasis by displaying surcharged and overprinted French postal stationery used in their post offices in Zanzibar.

Chris Oliver showed some letters written by Flight Lieutenant Cyril Boxhall to his wife. He was an Education Officer of the R.A.F. Education Service based in South Africa during the war years. A prodigious writer, he is known to have written 29 letters to his wife in South London between 1942 and 1944.

Special printings of the G.B. Victorian ½d orange stamp overprinted for use in the Bechuanaland Protectorate in 1888/9, were displayed by Tony Stanford, including two tones of black ink used.

Sebastian Payne displayed the short lived, 4½d; 1/3 and 1/6 stamps, issued as an addendum to the pictorials issue in 1953 to meet the needs of postal rate changes. He posed the question that there could have been two printings of these stamps, particularly the small value as perforations varied. Sebastian appealed for information on the dates of use of all of these three stamps.

The last display of the morning, and of the weekend, was given by Francis Kiddle. Francis showed a miscellany of Cinderella material from Boer war stamps produced in the U.K., railway stamps and numerous labels.

The Wicks medal for the best article in the Springbok was presented to Tony Howgrave-Graham just before he started the auction.

This conference was particularly strong for its different aspects of Union of South Africa. This showed that there are still new topics for study and collecting. All displays were much appreciated and aroused lively discussion in the room and the bar.

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