South West Africa From 1915-1923

6/06/2014     South West Africa

With the outbreak of World War One in 1914 the German colony in South West Africa was quickly overun and then fully occupied by South African forces under the command of General Botha, with a military government being established by July 1915. In 1919 the occupied colony was declared a mandated territory by the Treaty of Versailles. During the inter-period between the end of German South West Africa and the introduction of the first South West Africa stamp in 1923, the stamps of the Union of South Africa were used at all existing post offices, with many of the postmarks being altered German cancellers.

With a surprisingly large number of post offices serving a small population of immigrants (around just 10,000 in 1921!), this period provides wonderful scope for the postal history collector. Many of these cancellations are scarce, especially on cover, with fine strikes of the various "RAIL" postmarks being rare. Six main lines together with branches provided a good rail network to most places in the former German colony.

Amongst other devices manuscript cancelling was used at some offices, as were military handstamps during the earlier period of occupation, and there is further interest to the postal history collector with the various Army cachets, Prisoner of War cachets, censor sealing & cacheting which were liberally applied.

We are delighted to offer over the next few sales individual covers from an outstanding collection of South West Africa postal history from this interesting period. We have used “Putzel” numbers in our descriptions, as used by Ralph Putzel in his splendid and highly detailed handbooks.

Stamp Talk!

Get our stamp articles and auction news direct to your inbox!