The first stamp of South Africa was issued on 4 November 1910 and is the first stamp to depict King George V as the authorities in Britain could not agree a new portrait design with their stamp- collecting monarch!
The Union of South Africa was made from combining several provinces so strictly speaking the first stamps of this country were from the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony & Transvaal as they were still valid for postage and had to be used (apart from the aforementioned 2½d value) until the introduction of South Africa’s first definitive series in 1913. The period between the founding of the Union on 1 June 1910 and the 31 August 1913 is known by philatelists as “The Interprovincial Period” as clear, correctly dated postmarks allow stamp collectors and postal historians to collect the stamps from one province used in another province.
From 1926 to 1951 most stamps were issued in bi-lingual pairs to appease Afrikaan & Colonial sensibilities, they are generally collected and worth more in horizontal rather than vertical pairs, this can be traced back to an early printed stamp album which used this format for its page layouts. Vertical pairs are generally worth between a tenth to one third of a horizontal pair, single stamps even less. We warn collectors against expertly re-joined pairs, expensive items should be purchased from reputable sources.
This fascinating area of philately has benefitted from generations of expert research, many constant varieties have been identified and are sought after by collectors. The rarest stamps of South Africa include a number of missing, doubled or inverted frames or centres, the most expensive being the 1933 3d blue with centre omitted.
The Republic of South Africa continues to utilise her outstanding cultural and natural resources to issue beautiful stamps.