Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) was established in January 1852, and was recognised de jure by the British. Pre-stamp mail is rare. Items were franked at the 6d rate and struck with a circular cancel, and items are known from 1864. The application of Cape of Good Hope stamps to outgoing cross-border mail at Potchefstroom is also well-known. The period to 1877 is called the 1st Republic.
Postage stamps were introduced in May 1870. The first printings of the 1d, 3d, 6d and 1s duties were by Adolph Otto, produced in Germany imperforate or roulette 15½, and were of good quality. The plates were sent to ZAR, but Otto kept copies and continued to produce stamps for the philatelic market for years after ZAR ceased to exist.
M.J. Viljoen was the first local printer, producing stamps in Pretoria between May and July 1870, but his efforts are very poor, typified by blobby or blurred images caused by overinking of the plates. They were issued imperforate, roulette 15½ or more uncommonly 6½, gauges used in most of the subsequent printings. They are easily distinguished.
J.P. Borrius was awarded the contract for printing from 1870-74, producing his stamps in Potchefstroom. His efforts are much more professional than Viljoen’s.
In 1874, the 1d and 6d duties were printed in Pietermaritzburg by Davis & Son. They were issued perf. 12½.
The final printings using the Otto plates were done by the J.F. Celliers on behalf of the Stamp Commission in Pretoria between April 1875 and early 1877 again characterised by clear printings, although the wear on the plates is very apparent, and the varieties of paper used reflect the increasing financial peril in which the ZAR was finding itself.
With the exception of the Davis 1874 perforated issues, all these First Republic stamps have been extensively forged and reprinted in numbers exceeding their original issues by a factor of many hundred.
A typical Goldner forgery of the 6d duty, using re-cut Otto plates and showing the characteristic slightly hooked upper beak of the eagle and the crisp and clear 3-ring numeral cancel, made using originals which Otto had also kept.
Provisional 6d postal stationery envelopes were issued by Jeppe in 1869/70, but in 1872, Davis printed 3d and 6d envelopes which can be considered the Republic’s first official postal stationery.