The finances of the ZAR were always shaky. An ill-judged military campaign by President Thomas Burgers in 1876 against Sekhukhune left the country effectively bankrupt, giving the British an excuse to annexe the Republic, renaming it Transvaal. After the defeat of Sekhukhune by the British and allies, anti-British feeling boiled over and the First Boer War broke out in 1880. After a series of comprehensive defeats in January/February 1881, the British elected to sue for peace rather than prolong the war. Following a transition period, British troops withdrew in 1884 and the second Republic was established as an internationally recognised independent state.
The first British occupation stamps are those of the First Republic overprinted V.R. / TRANSVAAL. The 1d, 3d and 6d duties were reprinted, often on coloured paper. In 1878, the “Bourne Head” stamps of Queen Victoria were issued. Designed by Herbert Bourne and produced by Bradbury Wilkinson, these are considered by many to be amongst the most iconic of Victorian stamps. Bourne’s design was also used in the Falkland Islands. They are were also produced in larger format as revenue stamps. The 6d postage stamps were later surcharged 1 penny.