June 2022

The Union of South Africa was established, on 31st May 1910, after negotiations between the British and the Afrikaaner population following the Anglo-Boer Wars. Britain had seized the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch in 1795 after the Netherlands had been occupied by the French. A settlement had been established in Durban which, eventually, was expanded to become colony of Natal / Zululand. Dutch settlers became disillusioned with British rule and trekked north-east, in the 1920’s, to establish independent states of Orange Free State and, later, Transvaal. The discovery of diamonds and gold with resultant political imbalance lead to the Anglo-Boer Wars, after which, in 1902, both territories became British colonies. Costs of administering four neighbouring colonies led to discussions to form the unitary state of Southern Africa in 1908. Stamps with King Edward VII’s head were produced for use in all four colonies but he died less than a month before the Union was to come into fruition. Confusion regarding postal use followed and this is described in the  display. This also includes the chronological sequence concerning stamp issues, postal history and postal stationery for the next 51 years, until on 31st May 1961, a republic was proclaimed, unilaterally, and South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth. This was primarily caused due to the isolation of the country because of its Apartheid policies.