The Mafeking 'Blues'.

30/08/2012     South Africa

During the 1900 Siege of Mafeking , special photographically produced 'local' stamp issues were printed in blue, comprising of 1d Cadet Sgt-Major Goodyear 'Bicycle' and 3d Baden-Powell stamps. Plus at the same time, the same process was used to make siege banknotes.

Mafeking was an important railway town, and was well prepared when Cronje and his Boer troops first attacked in October 1899. The Boers soon isolated the town however, and local native runners were the only means of getting news and letters out of the town. They crossed the enemy lines at great risk, and were paid quite hefty sums to carry just a few letters; hence the need for the stamps to be overprinted with a surcharge, in order to cover these costs. The stocks of postage stamps soon ran out, and many were purchased as souvenirs by the defending troops.

The 1d Goodyear stamp depicts a local military Cadet who was just twelve years old during the Siege. He was one of many local lads who risked their lives delivering mail and helping on the lookouts and was perhaps the original "model" of a Boy Scout. His portrait was captured by a local photographer, Dr Taylor who constrained by the technology of the day was obliged to balance the youngster by wedging a rock beneath his peddle as he posed on his bicyle. In Dr. Hayes' final design his intials can be found in the lower border beneath the portrait.

The 3d Baden-Powell stamp was from a photograph by Mr Ross. Both values were printed in sheets of twelve on laid paper.

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