17/03/2016 South Africa
The Official Stamps of South Africa
You could be forgiven for running shy of the “OFFICIAL / OFFISIEEL” overprinted stamps of South Africa, due to a preponderance of interesting varieties the SG listings appear at first glance to be lengthy and complicated however there are in fact only 51 basic stamps!
Initially these overprinted stamps were only to be used on correspondence from Government Departments addressed outside of the Southern African Postal Union. Sale of these stamps to the public was forbidden but as you can imagine in a country filled with avid stamp collectors many of the official stamps found their way onto letters and into albums and dealers stocks!
The first Official stamps had been brought into use on 1st December 1926 and it only took until April 1929 for their use on general mail and their sale to the public to be authorised!
The overprinting, that main source of additional varieties beloved by collectors of these issues, was undertaken by the Government Printer in Pretoria. In the type-set forms used to produce all the overprints up to 1950 the spacing between the lines of the overprint varied considerably, so unlike most overprints listed in the SG catalogues you will see that a variance in the space between the lines is to be expected.
The varieties listed by SG are of two basic types, those on the overprints themselves such as stops added after “OFFICIAL” or “OFFISIEEL” or perhaps “OFFICIAL / OFFICIAL” and “OFFISIEEL / OFFISIEEL” on the same stamp rather than the correct bilingual layout, or the varieties on the stamps themselves which also appear listed under the regular listings without overprints, as well as the Official listings.
In our current sale we are offering an excellent array of Official stamps, including 30 lots with varieties – the most notable 2 lots being illustrated here, a 1930-47 2s6d pair showing a Diaeresis (2 dots) above the second “E” of the “OFFISIEEL” overprint, the other even greater rarity is a 1935-49 1s pair with the left stamp showing the “OFFICIAL / OFFICIAL” overprint error.
In our opinion those collectors wishing to specialise in an interesting Commonwealth area should strongly consider the Official stamps of South Africa, an area where new and interesting items are still being discovered, even though the last printings were made in 1954!