General issues: British colony 1874-1880
Country name on general issues: G.W., G.
Currency: 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1874-1880
Political history Griqualand West
Griqualand West is located in southern Africa. The Griqua are a population group in southern Africa that has its origins in Boer colonists mixing with the indigenous Khoisan people in the Boer territory around Cape Town. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Griqua trek from Cape Town into the hinterland to lead a semi-nomadic life. In the early 19th century, two groups of Griqua settle in Cornelis Kok’s Land and Waterboer’s Land – lands named after the ‘Kapteins’ or leaders of the Griqua.
Part of the Griqua, from there, trek further east to settle in Adam Koks Land. When Adam Kok’s Land is annexed by Orange Free State in 1861, the Griqua move on, settling in Griqualand East. Griqualand East will be annexed by the British to Cape of Good Hope in 1874.
Meanwhile, in the 1860’s, diamonds are found in the area of Kimberley attracting many – mainly British – diamond diggers that, in 1870 on Griqua land, found the Klipdrift republic that also goes by the name of Diggers republic. Waterboer calls upon the British to support him in his claim on the land – which is also claimed by the Boer republics of Orange Free State and the South African Republic. Rather than support Waterboer, the British decide to annex the Klipdrift republic and the remaining lands of the Griqua. The official pretext is to protect the interest of British citizens. It is, however, also suggested that the main reason was to gain control over the revenues from the diamond mines before one of the Boer republics would do so. The British, subsequently, form the colony of Griqualand West in 1873. Griqualand West will be annexed to Cape of Good Hope in 1880.
The Griqua have, since the end of the 19th century, been largely submerged in other population groups. The diamond mine in Kimberley was used until 1914.
Postal history Griqualand West
In Griqualand West, from 1871 until 1877, stamps from Cape of Good Hope are used. A single provisional for Griqualand West is issued in 1874 – an issue from Cape of Good Hope with a handwritten new face value. In 1877 and 1878, a larger number of overprints is issued for Griqualand West. The overprints read ‘G.W.’ and ‘G’ – the latter existing in many varieties. Most of these overprints have a somewhat higher catalog value – and many forgeries exist. The issues for Griqualand West are known to also have been used in Cape of Good Hope. They were superseded from 1880 by the issues of Cape of Good Hope and from 1910 by those of the Union of South Africa.