George Philatelic Society

In olden days the coastal plateau between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains in the Southern Cape was known as Houtteniqualandt or Outeniqualand.  The name “Outeniqua” is derived from the Khoi-Khoi word meaning “laden with honey” or “people carrying bags of honey”.  Kannaland, or the Little Karoo, is situated to the north between the Outeniqua and the Swartberg Mountains. Kanna, (kooigoedvygie), is also a Khoi-Khoi word for a plant commonly found in the Little Karoo.  It was chewed for the relief of pain, e.g. stomach pain or tooth ache.

The Lange Kloof runs between the Kamanassie and the Kouga Mountains to the north and the Outeniqua Mountains to the south.  This farming community, beginning at the village Herold and ending 160 kilometres east, at a railway station called Heights, between Joubertina and Kareedouw.

I became interested in stamp collecting in primary school in Tulbagh.  However, by the time I was in high school, I had lost interest.  It was approximately 23 years later, in 1978, when I was a clergyman in Sutherland, that I again took up stamp collecting. The local postmaster sparked my interest again.  In April 1980 we moved to George, where I was appointed as Chaplain in the Department of Correctional Services. 

I joined the George Philatelic Society and it was not long before I developed a love of postal history. I started a collection: “The history of National Stamp Exhibitions in South Africa 1913-1960”.  The annual National Stamp Exhibition took place in Paarl in 1987and I decided to enter this collection. As the saying goes “nothing venture, nothing gained”.   As a novice exhibitor to national philately, I was very happy to win a bronze award and still treasure that day and the award as very special.

Gerrit Kamffer, winner of the State President’s Trophy (grand prix), encouraged me to compile a postal history collection of the original George District. As newcomer to philately I did not know how to respond.  However, the little seed was sown and in 1988 I found my first postal item originating from the George Post Office. The collection starts in c.1777, when George was only a woodcutters post and ends in 1911,George’s centenary year.  In those years the district of George covered a large tract of the Cape Colony – in fact approximately 16402 km².  The George district comprised the later districts   Knysna, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn and Uniondale.        


The first postal item I found for my collection of the original George District.  The      
Acting Postmaster, wrote this letter to the Postmaster General in Cape Town.

As the districts of the Colony were to extensive, a new district with its own Drostdy, named George Town, was seceded from Swellendam on 23 April 1811 by Governor Caledon.  The first landdrost was A G van Kervel.  Knysna, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn became independent districts in January 1858 and Uniondale in December 1879.

During 1992, I visited the archives in Cape Town.  The assistant introduced me to the General Post Office Document: GPO 1  - Incoming letters from Country Postmasters to the Postmaster General-1814–1880 (166 volumes). I realised the wealth of information available and decided that it would not be right if this intriguing part of George’s history were to remain concealed in the archives while the public, especially Georgians, might love to learn how the postal system in Outeniqualand, Kannaland and the Lange Kloof, had developed. 

I then decided to realise my dream of writing a book about the postal development in the original George District.  I knew that it would be a long-term project to make my dream come true. Afterwards I would have the satisfaction of making a contribution in recording George’s history.  At the same time, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn and Uniondale also benefit from this project.  

I was still a chaplain in the service of the Department of Correctional Services and full-time research would not be possible.  So the obvious way was to go the part-time way. Every letter of importance from the aforementioned area was rewritten by hand from the 166 volumes into several A4 examination pads.  In the process other new philatelic discoveries were made and recorded.

Lawrence Green, the famous author of old Cape stories once said: “The road to learning means a long journey in the archives and time loses its importance”.  My journey of learning took me twelve years.  By the time that I turned the last page of volume 166 I was tired, and retired!!  The latter took place on 28 February 2002.

The next “big mountain” I had to cross was to teach myself, as senior citizen, how to operate a computer.  There were always patient neighbours willing to assist me.

The language in which to publish the book was another decision to make.  As South African Philately is linked with International Philately overseas the book was born with an English title.  I am thankful that the task is now concluded after seventeen years. The book is full of surprises, very informative and the interesting text reads easily.  The “weal and woe” of postmasters, postal agents, post-contractors and post-drivers and even the humorous incidents, provide excellent reading matter.

Mount the postcart!  I am sure you will enjoy our journey through Houtteniqualandt, Kannaland and the Lange Kloof.  Your “Ticket”(Book) is available at R375 at Pauw Steyl, PO Box 9748, GEORGE 6530. You’ll also find me on Tel:044 8708284 or Cell: 084 4998267.
The book is published in A4 format and has 230 pages (including 48 full colour pages depicting old letters, maps and photos).

Last Updated (Tuesday, 25 August 2009 13:56)