The Octagonal Letterstamp of 1849

The Octagonal Letterstamp of 1849

By January 1846 the Crown-in-Circle handstamps have been used for almost thirty years. They had not been renewed since their introduction and the Postmaster General referred to their worn state and requested from the Colonial Secretary a set of new stamps. Due to their condition some postmasters had already put the Crown-in-Circle stamps aside. He requested authorization to obtain a new set of handstamps by tender. In this effect a notice appeared on 5 March 1846, calling for tenders to supply 40 to 60 letter stamps and for the alteration of ‘such old stamps as may be required’. However, no tender was executed. On 5 February 1848 Postmster general Robert Crozier applied again to the Government Secretary for authorization for their replacement. Two advertizements appeared in the Government Gazette four days later, calling for a tender of 30 letter stamps of different descriptions, as required by the post office.

Authority had, howver, been obtained for 40 to 60 letter stamps, being the anticipated number for post offices which would have opened by 1849.

The design of this handstamp was uniform consisting of a numeral enclosed in an octagonal frame. The numeral would represent the town or disrict in which the post office was located. The frame measures 23 by 23 mm, except for the Somerset East (No. 59), which is 26 by 26 mm.

1851 Wrapper to France bearing full strike No. 55 Graaf-Reinet endorsed “8pp” at upper left (which would have signified Cape uniform 4d per ½ oz domestic postage rate plus 4d ship letter fee) and various other rate markings, routing per back stamps Cape Town (good impression ULS 3), Liverpool ‘8 FEB 1851”, London “10 FEB 1851”, Ostende “11 FEB” and final receipt Alost “14 FE”, there is a further boxed red h/s on front of the Belgium Foreign Branch, scarce routing.

The Octagonal Numeral Handstamp was intended as a defacing handstamp when adhesive stamps came into use. However, when the first postage stamps came into use in 1853, all postmasters were issued with the Small Triangular Obliterator (STO 1) for this purpose.

Portion of the back showing backstamps including ULS 3

The Octagonal Numeral hanstamp (ON 1) was distributed without any pre-conceived plan of allocation (based for example on post office seniority or aplhabetical order).A few of the Octagonal stamps were used at more than one post office. Port Alfred was allocated three stamps. The two being originally allocated to Burgersdorp and Bathurst and some Octagonal Numeral Stamp examples.

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