Apfelbaum's Corner

John Apfelbaum's blog on Philately

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stellaland


The political history of South Africa is fascinating. Originally settled by the Dutch in the sixteenth century, South African areas long bounced back and forth under control of the Boers (as the native Dutch decedents were called), the British, who added South Africa to their list of imperial ambitions in the eighteenth century, and native African nations who were displaced by the immigrants and wished for their land back. The Boer Wars of the late nineteenth century were the culmination of decades of strife and the philatelic result was a plethora of philatelic entities. One of the more interesting was Stellaland which issued its own stamps in 1882. It is not clear that anyone recognized Stellaland as an independent country beside the Boer settlers who lived there and who, to bolster their claim as an independent nation, did what dodgy nation states did throughout the nineteenth century- issued postage stamps. The stamps of Stellaland, except for the one penny red and a later surcharged variety which you almost never see, are common mint and very rare on cover as it is not clear that very many were ever sold in the local post offices. As part of a South African collection they help us understand why statehood has been so difficult for that nation where there are so many differing constituencies that not only desire separation, but that were once nation states of their own.

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