The "Ox-Wagon Outspanned" Stamp of South Africa

30/08/2012     South Africa

Few stamp designs sum up the spirit of a nation but perhaps the 5s black and green stamp issued by South Africa in 1927 came close. It depicts a traditional Voortrekker Wagon.

The Voortrekkers, or pioneers, were emigrants who left the British controlled Cape Colony during the 1830s & 1840s and headed into the vast interior of what is now South Africa. The Great Trek was in fact not a single movement of people but a number of large expedition- like movements under various charasmatic leaders. The Ox-wagon was a major component of these treks, when thousands of primarily Dutch traders, farmers & their families, pushed huge distances into inhospitable frontier areas with their animals and supplies. The wagon was the main tool for shelter and the centre of family life, and it has remained an important symbol in European and Southern African history.

The 5s OX-WAGON OUTSPANNED was issued in various forms from 1927 through to 1954. As with other values in the bilingual pictorial series, there are a variety of different printing methods, redrawings, design changes, various different perforations and colours for the collector to sort out. However, there is no difficulty in identifying this particular never hinged mint pair from the first (1927) issue, as it displays the full Bradbury Wilkinson printer's imprint in the lower margin. A magnificent display item!

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