The first T.P.O to operate was started in 1882 and originally operated between Cape Town and Beaufort West. This was later extended to Victoria West Road (later named Hutchinson) and subsequently to De Aar and beyond. These first marks had no special identification marks and they were simply denoted ‘T.P.O. UP’, ‘T.P.O.DOWN’ , ‘TRAVELLING PO UP’ or ‘TRAVELLING PO DOWN’. These marks can be found used up to 1896.
To identify these marks properly both the illustration and the description should be consulted.
Hagen & Naylor describe thirteen date stamps used for this purpose.
In about 1891 the TPO between Cape Town and De Aar was renamed ‘Western TPO’, reflecting its route of operation on the Western Section of the CGR. Well after the new name has been adopted, the use of ‘No Name’ continued until at least May 1896 (Hagen and Naylor). The service may have operated also on the route De Aar Naauwpoort and after the rail bridge over the Orange River was opened in 1890, as far north as Norvalspont.
Postmarks with the ‘UP’ variety can generally be identified by measuring the width of the letter ‘U’ and the distance between the letters ‘U’ and ‘P’ in ‘UP’. ‘Down’ varieties can be identified by the dimensioning of the space between the ‘D’ and ‘N’ of ‘DOWN’. The ‘TRAVELLING PO’ marks are easily identifiable by their wording and no special varieties exist.
Based on this identification method Hagen & Naylor identified thirteen postmarks as described in the following table.