January 1883 (approx.) – Post office opens at Vryburg & postal service commenced to Christiana (Putzel)
7 August 1883 – Stellaland proclaimed an independent republic by G J van Niekerk (Theal)
8 August 1883 – Vryburg listed as the post office of Stellaland Republic (Putzel)
February 1884 – Stamps delivered.
23 September 1884 – Postal contract concluded between Stellaland Government and WM Geeringh, the Vryburg-Christiana postal contractor.
7 February 1885 – Sir Charles Warren’s expedition reaches Vryburg.
23 March 1885 – Vryburg post office listed under British Bechuanaland (Putzel)
11 June 1885 – Francis Eaton replaces Ferdinand Hartzenberg as postmaster of Vryburg.
30 September 1885 – Stellaland incorporated into the crown colony of the British Bechuanaland.
2 December 1885 – Stellaland stamps replaced.
F Dekker: appointed approx. 1882
Ferdinand Hartzenberg: 1884 – 11 June 1885 (Initials: “FH”)
Francis Alexander Eaton: 1 July 1885? – early 1886 (Probably did not initial stamps but rather pen-stroke cancelled)
CG Dennison: date?
As far a I could establish the following literature exists:
1. Jonkers, G.H. 1999. Onderzoeken van Stellaland. F.V.Z.A.: Rotterdam.
2. Quik, W.J. 2003. The history and postage and revenue stamps of Stellaland / Griqualand West. F.V.Z.A.: Krimpen A/d IJssel.
3. Jurgens, A.A. 1946. The Bechuanalands, A brief history of the Countries and their Postal Services to 1895. RPS: London.
4. Holmes, H.R. 1971. The Postage Stamps, Postal Stationery, and Postmarks of the Bechuanalands. RPS: London.
5. de Raay, L. 1934. De Postzegels van Stellaland. Amsterdam.
6. Trotter, B & Midwood, N. 2001. Revenues of Southern Africa, Part 1: The Bechuanalands. Privately Published.
Drysdall, A.R. 1991. A previously undescribed Stellaland item. The Runner Post, Issue 22, p. 402 – 412, March.
Drysdall, A.R. 1991. Stellaland Revisited. The Runner Post, Issue 23, p. 419 – 433, June.
Drysdall, A.R. 1992. A postal History of Stellaland. London Philatelist, 101:54 – 66, March.
Drysdall, A.R. 1992. A postal History of Stellaland (continued). London Philatelist, 101:95 – 99, April.
Drysdall, A.R. 2008. The “Twee” Overprint and the Remainders of Stellaland’s Postage Stamps. Collectors Club Philatelist, 87(3), p. 141 – 148.
Groenewald, J. 2002. Stellaland – skielik ‘n stroom seldsame koeverte. The SA Philatelist, 78:4, p. 110 – 113, August.
Drysdall, A.R. 2003. Postal markings on Stellaland stamps. The Transvaal Philatelist, 38(2), P. 43, May.
Seligmann. K. 1993. New information from Dr Karl Seligmann. The Runer Post, Isue 31, p. 624 – 625, June.
Drysdall, A.R. 1993. Stellaland – Addenda from Dr G H Jonkers to Dr Seligmann’s article in RP 31. The Runner Post, Issue 32, p. 651 – 652, September.
Jonkers, G.H. 1993. Royal ceases to issue certificates for Stellaland “Twee” provisional. The Runner Post, Issue 32, p. 653 – 654, September.
Jonkers, G.H. 1994. Postal Contract. The Runner Post, Issue 35, p. 735 – 736, June.
Stellaland never had a device for cancelling their stamps. According to Jurgens there were instructions to the postmaster “to cancel all stamps on letters with pen and ink”. Vryburg is found first listed on 8 August 1883 as the post office of the Stellaland Republic (Putzel). Stamps were delivered to Stellaland during February 1884 and during the first few months stamps are found manuscript cancelled with the date only. The earliest date recorded is 29 February 1884. The postal route during the period of the Stellaland rule was by way of Christiana and hence the ZAR target canceller with numeral 6 seen on stamps (applied in transit).
From August 1884 onwards stamps are seen for most part with both the date and initials (of the postmaster). Initials seen are: “F.H”, “C.G.D” and “F.C.L”. With the aid of old Stellaland documents lodged at the Cape Archives it is possible to positively identify “F.H.” as belonging to Ferdinand Hartzenberg and “F.C.L” as that of Frans Coenraad Dekker. The initials “C.G.D” belonged to a Dennison but only one stamp is attributed to him.
The bulk of the stamps are found with Hartzenberg’s initials and only three stamps are seen with those of his predecessor, namely that of Dekker, who was the first postmaster. Dekker was already postmaster during the pre-stamp period and the earliest stamps cancelled with the date only would probably have been his work.
Sir Charles Warren’s expedition reached Vryburg on 7 February 1885 with the aim to place the area under British control. According to Putzel the Vryburg post office was listed under British Bechuanaland from 23 March 1885.
The practice of the postmaster to cancel the stamp with his initials is not seen later than May 1885. During these last months that the Stellaland stamps were in use it was cancelled only with the stroke of a pen or not cancelled at all. This practice coincides more or less with the takeover by the British and was probably employed by Francis Alexander Eaton whom replaced Ferdinand Hartzenberg as postmaster of Vryburg on 11 June 1885. The fact that stamps were not cancelled could suggest that they were not officially recognized by the British occupiers. The only example of Eaton actually cancelling stamps with his name is a cover dated 26 June 1885, from the early part of his officiate.
A relation is thus found between the means of cancellation and the postmaster of the day. It becomes clear that Hartzenberg, Dekker and Eaton each had a distinctly different way of cancelling their stamps. The first stamps were cancelled with the date only (probably by Dekker), Hartzenberg applied the date and his initials and Eaton either did not cancel the stamp or applied a pen or blue pencil stroke. This coupled with the transit or arrival postmarks of outside offices gives us an interesting array of stamps.
With the British takeover the postal route also changed with all mail now passing through Barkly West and Kimberley. Hence stamps are found cancelled at these two towns in transit with the dates corresponding with the period of British involvement.
Other postmarks found on stamps also cancelled in transit or by receiving offices are Zeerust ZAR (target 8), Rustenberg ZAR (target 3), Hoopstad OFS (numeral 27) and Barkly West CC (BONC 232).
Stellaland was incorporated into the crown colony of the British Bechuanaland on 30 September 1885 with the stamps being replaced on 2 December 1885. The first date stamp to be received by Vryburg arrived on 30 December 1885.
Covers are very rare. Drysdall described 13 in his 1992 article. Groenewald (2002: 110) added a 14th cover. Examples are shown below.