Smaller postal administrations

Three smaller postal administrations are described here, all of which have connections to ZAR. Stellaland, founded by ZAR burghers; Swaziland, whose postal administration was run by ZAR, and Pietersburg, which operated at the end of the Anglo-Boer War.


In 1882, burghers from ZAR supported one of the Tswana rulers in his fight against competing rulers, and in return for their support were given part of his land. The 1881 Convention of Pretoria signed by the ZAR and the British forbade ZAR to extend its territory further into Tswana land, and two new republics were formed: the State of Goshen (October 1882), whose principal town was Mafeking, and the republic of Stellaland (26 July 1882) whose principal town was Vryburg. Goshen and Stellaland subsequently joined on 6 August 1883 to form the United States of Stellaland.

In 1884, in the aftermath of the First Boer War, the Convention of London redefined relations between ZAR and the British, and part of the territory of Stellaland was ceded to the ZAR. However, both the British and ZAR had a strategic interest in the remainder of the territory. Stellaland, in particular, proposed to levy taxes on all commercial traffic passing through its territory, including de Beers’ lucrative diamond trade. On 16 September 1884 ZAR annexed Stellaland and declared it to be a protectorate and by December 1884 the British had invaded and occupied Stellaland to protect their interests. In 1885 Stellaland was incorporated into British Bechuanaland.

Postal history

Stamps were issued 1884, as 1d, 3d, 4d, 6d and 1s duties. They were printed in Cape Town, and have been widely forged. The stamps were not valid outside Stellaland, and cross-border mail had to be additionally franked with Transvaal or Orange Free State stamps. Some Stellaland stamps are recorded with transit cancellations from Orange Free State or Transvaal.  Used stamps are rare, and those on cover are extremely rare.


The kingdom of Swaziland was formed in the early 19th century from different tribes that subsequently blended to form the Swazi people. From the mid-19th century Swaziland was confronted both with the advance of the newly established ZAR, and the British establishing and gradually expanding the colony of Natal. In 1881 and 1884 respectively Swaziland signed treaties with ZAR and the British. These treaties secured the borders of Swaziland but granted both ZAR and the British substantial influence, and in 1889 all parties established a tripartite administration under the overall control of the Swazi king.

In subsequent years ZAR extended their influence and in 1894 Swaziland became its protectorate. After the defeat of ZAR in the second Boer War, Swaziland became a British protectorate initially administered as part of Transvaal. In 1906 Swaziland become a de jure separate protectorate, one of High Commission Territories together with Basutoland and Bechuanaland. It remained outside the Union of 1910, gained self-government in 1967 and full independence as the kingdom of Swaziland in 1968.

Postal history

Vurtheim issue stamps of ZAR overprinted “SWAZIELAND” were issued from 1889, but from December 1892 to January 1900 regular, unoverprinted issues of ZAR were used, and the postal administration was run by ZAR. From March 1902, stamps of Transvaal colony were used, and later those of the Union of South Africa; the first issues of the protectorate were issued in January 1933.  31 post offices or postal agencies are known.

Stamps of ZAR used in Swaziland

New Republic (Nieuwe Republiek)

Nieuwe Republiek Zuid Afrika was a small republic which existed from 1884 to 1888 to the east of ZAR. It was proclaimed on August 16 1884 with land donated by the Zulus through a treaty, after the Boers had helped in a Zulu succession dispute. The capital was Vryheid, the alternative name of the state.

Nieuwe Republiek was recognized by the British on October 22 1886, but within a few months the British annexed a stretch of the coastline of the Nieuwe Republiek and the Zulu kingdom north of the Thukela river. This prevented the Republiek’s access to the sea. The annexation also caused a Zulu revolt, in which the Zulu were eventually defeated. This lack of sea access and general insecurity about British imperialism resulted in the Nieuwe Republiek requesting incorporation into ZAR (July 21 1888), although it still enjoyed considerable autonomy.  In 1903 the remaining territory of the Nieuwe Republiek was transferred to Natal.

Stamp of Nieuwe Republiek, from the first issue

Postal History

The stamps were printed in violet using a rubber hand-stamp on yellowish or blue granite paper (with some rag content). The reason for the two types of paper remains unexplained. Later stamps were embossed with the arms of the Republic before printing.  The early stamps are dated, and although a number of dates are comparatively common, others seem to reflect prepraation of the stamps “to order”, and can be extremely rare.  The stamps saw dual postal and fiscal usage, but values higher than 6d were probably not used postally.  “Used” examples above this value are likely to have been cancelled to order as remainders.  Foreign mail from Vryheid in 1884-1885 was franked with issues of ZAR (for dispatches made via Utrecht) or Natal (for dispatches made via Dundee), as stamps of Nieuwe Republiek were never recognised.  Covers of any usage are rare. Everything was taxed in Nieuwe Republiek, and ficscally used material is more abundant than postally used material.


In the 1840s, Voortrekkers under the leadership of Andries Potgieter established Zoutpansbergdorp, in northern territories of what would become ZAR. This settlement, 100 km to the north west of the current location of Pietersburg, had to be abandoned because of clashes with the local tribes. They founded a new town in 1886 and named it Pietersburg in honour of Voortrekker leader Petrus Jacobus Joubert. The town is now known as Polokwane

Pietersburg was the regional capital of Zoutpansberg district with road and later rail links with Pretoria. It was catapulted into the limelight when, after the fall of Pretoria to the British in June 1900, the ZAR government withdrew to the north of the country.  Pietersburg had to pick up the trappings of national government, including printing money and stamps. Those post offices and banks in areas not occupied by the British continued to function.

Postal history

Pietersburg stamps are the last of the Anglo-Boer War provisional issues. After existing stocks of ZAR stamps ran out an emergency issue of stamps was authorised by the State Secretary J.T. de Smit, to be printed by De Zoutpansberg Wachter Press, and signed by de Smit himself. The first issues appeared on 20 March 1901 and continued until British occupation on April 8 1901, when the presses were destroyed and most of the remaining stocks burned. Most of this non-overprinted material found its’ way into the philatelic market. The use of these provisionals continued until at least 6 May 1901 at Ermelo, some 250 km SE of Pietersburg, where the General Louis Botha had made his headquarters.

Stamp of Pietersburg

Genuinely postally used material, whether on cover or as stamps, is rare, and most of the “used” material available has either been cancelled-to-order or has been used for other purposes such as telegraphic or fiscal use.

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