Southern Africa Philatelic Conference 2010
12th to 14th November

Approximately 24 members and 4 dealers attended.  On the Saturday the invited displays were presented and these would be considered for the award of the Tony Chilton Memorial Trophy. Other smaller and less formal displays were shown on Sunday morning. The auction held every year on the Sunday afternoon was much larger than usual with over 500 lots offered.

Otto Peetoom showed the 1953 Northern Rhodesia Mkushi typewritten postage due overprints, produced by Mr. Beck, the postal agent there at the time. Most of the 23 known covers, either in the flesh, or as photocopies were displayed. Otto was fortunate enough to correspond with him and has written about the full story of these fascinating items of philately.

John Shaw first pictorials collection has an emphasis on the essays and the recess printed stamps. The former included three De la Rue ship penny essays and all known varieties of the Springbok essays. The latter included colour trials perforated Specimen and inscriptional pieces of all values in all three perforation groups including the rare 2/6d and 5/- Group II plus 2d and 4d values with inverted watermark.

Robert Johnson showed Cape of Good Hope rectangular issues from 1888-95, firstly with a fine array of fancy cork cancellations, then covers showing the gradual progression of foreign postage rates to equalize with the UPU rates, also explaining the frustration experienced by the colony before it eventually joined the UPU. We saw the reduction in the rate to the USA from 1/- to 7˝d, then to 6d, then 5d and finally, in 1892, to the UPU rate of 2˝d. Unusual and rare items shown were the 2d registered book post rate, “Posted Out of Course” marks and a cover from Beaufort to Port of Spain at the time the city was devastated by a hurricane, thus without any transit marks. Finally, we saw some unusual destinations such as Finland and Romania.

John Sussex, who has been collecting South West Africa for less than 3 years, showed postal history from 1880-1929, illustrating how the Germans had developed the territory. The forerunners included an Upington (Cape) railway letter in to SWA, a rare parcel card, provisional cancellations leading to permanent offices, an account of the Hurto rebellion when 14,000 German troops were sent to put it down and the use of “Feldpost,” either written or printed for use by the troops and a registration label, paradoxically for German troops but in English. The World War One German occupation period was covered by “Detained” cachets and modified cancellations, and prisoner-of-war mail. Finally there was a 5d postage due charge and a glorious 9d postage due charge, the authorities apparently not believing the Printed Paper Rate declaration. It is worth noting that John had acquired all the items shown since the 2009 Leamington conference, proving what can be achieved!

Paul van Zeyl treated us to his quickfire, humorous and academic discourse, this time on the development of the Transvaal. He told us that, under Chaka, the main and virtually only male interests were hunting and women! Until Paul Kruger emerged, it appears the Boers in-fighting had virtually destroyed the Transvaal, but Kruger united them against the British, while Cecil John Rhodes was aiming to destroy the Boer Government. Paul discussed the socio-economic features of the Transvaal, the fact the Boers would not attack the native people whilst taking sanctuary with the missionaries and the influence of the Russian Jews; one of the latter, Mr Lippett, found great difficulty being accepted in the Boer government, since being aged only 30 and not sporting a large beard, he had no credibility with Boer males!

The final Saturday display was by Bob Hill who chronicled a series of postcards, from 1907-1918, from one Harry Milner to a Miss Hilda Hall. Harry was a sergeant major, possibly with the South Africa Railways & Harbour Brigade. He carried out a long and possibly unfulfilled courtship with Hilda over 11 years, giving enticing accounts of the places he visited ("you would enjoy this place"), each time becoming more inviting without ever actually proposing marriage. This was a very humorous presentation with much audience participation, chocolate bars being freely distributed to those who correctly answered his questions!

The South African Collectors’ Society then held its AGM.

Sunday started with Max Whitlock presenting aspects of King George V issues in the Union. When that monarch ascended to the throne, 100 years ago, it appears that it was met with indifference in South Africa. One stamp was produced in 1910 and during the whole period whilst definitive stamps depicting the king’s head were on sale previous inter-provincial stamps were still available for postal use. South Africa was then quick to change to an S.A. pictorial definitive issue. Max also showed the JIPEX stamps with some combined on a newspaper “Star Mail” issued at the Jubilee Exhibition.

Richard Barnett presented a detailed study of the Protea and Succulent definitive issues of the Republic which he had put together for his wife. He also showed two covers that marked the recent centenary of the Rhodesian Double Heads issue.

David Morrison, the postal history dealer, showed artists essays, proofs and stamps depicting Southern African Kingfishers. Some of surcharges he illustrated had been carried out by a Maseru printer in nothing more than a shack. David explained how some of the varieties on this issue came to be issued.

Simon Peetoom displayed Railway Letter cancellations of S.W.A. These are rarely encountered and most that survive are philatelic. The main rail route north was shown was from Upington in South Africa to Swakopmund, via Windhoek. There are a range of different cachets, even a Windhoek Cloakroom example was shown. Simon later showed a range of covers with temporary postmarks, also known as skeleton postmarks and he explained how few of these fascinating cancels are recorded.

Richard Weaver showed the surcharges on the third Namibian definitives.

Eddie Bridges talked about the fascinating tale he discovered in the SA archives relating to the Booysen and the Darmstadt trials. It illustrated how politics can interfere with philatelic research as the authorities were nervous about the fact that any stamp printing had taken place in Germany and were not happy to release potentially sensitive information to the public.

Bob Hill showed an assortment of interesting and unusual cancellations. He asked if anybody had previously seen references to Possession Island or the cachet ‘ROAD POSTAGE’ on a cover from Brakpan Mine.

Nick Arrow displayed illustrated covers, cards and letter-heads; he was particularly amused by a hotel that advertised, in 1900s, “electric light and bells in all rooms.”

Tony Howgrave-Graham displayed early Union slogan cancellations, Paquebot marks and more S.W.A.

South African Defence Force covers from the Angola border and elsewhere on the African continent were included in Chris Oliver’s display. The former depicted a variety of censor marks and special unit cachets. In recent years the Defence Force has been assisting the United Nations with Peace keeping in Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo; Comoro Islands and The Central African Republic.

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