General issues: British colony 1853-1910
Country name on general issues: Cape of Good Hope
Special issues: Occupation issues Vryburg 1899, Local issues Mafeking, Vryburg 1900
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1853-1910
Population: 2 100 000 in 1901
Political history Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good HopeAlso called Cape Colony is located in southern Africa. At the onset of the colonial era, the peoples living in what is to become the Cape Colony are to the south and the west the Khoisan and to the east and the north several Bantu peoples most notably the Tswana and the Xhosa. In 1652, the Dutch settle in Cape Town and establish the Cape Colony. During the Napoleonic wars, the British, in 1795, occupy the Cape Colony to prevent it from falling into French hands – the French having occupied the Netherlands in Europe. In 1814, the Cape Colony is ceded by the Dutch to the British.
The original Dutch settlers – the Boers – subsequently leave the Cape Colony on what is known as the Great Trek. The Boers move inland, there to establish republics that will eventually develop into Orange Free State and the South African Republic. Less well known is the Griqua Trek. The Griqua are a people of mixed Boer and Khoisan parentage that, like the Boer, moved inland – there to settle in what would become Griqualand West and Griqualand East.
The British steadily extend the Cape Colony: in part by annexing lands where no political entities had yet been formed, in part by annexing the Bantu kingdoms Fingoland, Pondoland, Tembuland and Transkei and the Griqua states Griqualand East and Griqualand West – and in part by annexing other British colonies to the Cape Colony – British Bechuanaland, British Kaffraria. The Penguin Islands off the coast of what is to become German South West Africa are attached to the Cape Colony in 1874, Walvis Bay – a British exclave in German South West Africa – follows suit in 1884.
In 1877, the British decide to annex the South African Republic as the British colony of Transvaal. The Boers reject British annexation and, from 1880 to 1881, the First Boer War is fought – the outcome being that, from 1884, the South African Republic is reinstated as an independent country. In the late 1890’s, tensions between the British and the Boers once again escalate into war: the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. In 1899, the South African Republic – now supported by Orange Free State – invades the Cape Colony and Natal and, in the Cape Colony, occupies parts of it around the cities of Mafeking and Vryburg. The British, however, quickly gain the upper hand. In 1900, the British occupy large parts of Orange Free State and the South African Republic – the Boers revert to a guerrilla war and are fully conquered in 1902. The Boer republics then become the British colonies of Orange River and Transvaal.
The Cape Colony is joined with Natal, Orange River Colony and Transvaal to form the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Postal history Cape of Good Hope
The first stamps are issued for the Cape Colony in 1853. These are triangular stamps showing the allegory of ‘Hope’ – an allegory that will be used on many stamps issued by the Cape Colony.
The stamps of the Cape Colony are used outside the Cape Colony in Griqualand East, until annexed by the Cape Colony in 1874, in Griqualand West from 1871 until 1877, when Griqualand West issues stamps of its own and in Basutoland from 1880 until 1910, when the stamps of the Cape Colony are superseded by those of the Union of South Africa.
During the Second Boer War, special issues appear – stamps issued both by the British and by the South African Republic as follows:
- When Vryburg is occupied by the South African Republic in October 1899 stamps are issued by the South African Republic for use in the occupied city. The issues are overprints on stamps of the Cape Colony reading ‘Z.A.R.’ and a new face value – Z.A.R. is short for Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek, the name of the republic in Afrikaans.
- After Vryburg is regained from the Boers, the British in May 1900 issue provisionals – stamps from the South African Republic overprinted ‘V.R. Special Post’.
- During the Boer siege of Mafeking, from November 1899 until May 1900, provisionals are issued by the local British administration. First available stamps of the Cape Colony and Bechuanaland – both British Bechuanaland and Bechuanaland Protectorate – are overprinted ‘Mafeking Besieged’ and a new face value. Next two stamps of local design and print are issued.
The stamps of Cape of Good Hope are superseded by the stamps of the Union of South Africa from 1910. The stamps of Cape of Good Hope remain valid for use in the Union of South Africa until 1937.