NATAL PRIVATE POSTAL CARDS
The information for this article
is taken from the book The Postal Stationery of Natal by John Dickson
and Keith Hanman and published by the Natal & Zululand Study Circle
in 2001. Latterly the N&ZSC has been renamed the Cape & Natal
Study Circle. The illustrations are from the authors own
The Victorian postal cards of Natal were developed by De La Rue using
the common colonial keyplate design with the letters ‘NATAL’ and the
duty of the issue added. The first delivery of the DLR ½d card
was made on 31st December 1884 when 97,920 cards were supplied. These
were announced for sale in Natal on 21st February 1885. This issue was
reprinted frequently during Queen Victoria’s remaining years and up to
the end of 1901 1,622,148 had been printed.
An understanding of the restrictions placed upon the public in relation
to supplying and sending privately printed postal cards helps towards
an understanding of the practices approved in connexion with the
official use of postal cards in Natal. For a full resume see Chapter 3
of the above book. As long ago as 1889 it had been pointed out that
cards, other than those officially issued by the Post Office were
chargeable at letter rates. A Government Notice of 8th March 1893
confirmed that ‘only such cards as
are issued by the Post Office will be regarded as post cards’,
all other cards being treated as letters. The Natal Almanac of 1898, published
towards the end of 1897, mentioned that private cards had been
authorised by the Governments in some UPU countries - but gave no hint
that such cards were to be allowed to be posted in Natal.
The first stirrings locally occur towards the end on 1897 when various
individuals made requests through the PMG that private cards should be
allowed. Postmaster General Chadwick on 4th December 1897 wrote to the
Colonial Secretary ‘….There is much
objection to the admission of private cards, which I should not favour,
except to gain a revenue which is possibly offering, and which, it is
likely, official cards will not bring’. On 26th January 1898
Chadwick wrote to the people who had been agitating for private post
cards, ‘the Natal Government is not
prepared at present to agree to the introduction of private post-cards’.
This discussion was deferred for six months that grew to 12 months
without further reference to the subject until on 15th December 1898
Acting Postmaster General Coleman responded to a request from Under
1. It seems
to me there are practically only two points for consideration (1)
whether the Government will authorise the use of private post-cards and
(2) whether engravings, or advertisements, may be printed on the face
of such cards.
think myself that the public should be allowed to use private cards ...
but the card should be of similar size and substance to the official
post-cards issued by the Department... .
3. and 4. Have been left out.
regard to point two: I think we should adopt the international
regulation permitting engraving or advertisements to appear on the face
of any card. The illustrated card would, from a general point of view,
no doubt, prove of service in bringing the attractions of the Colony to
the notice of people in England and elsewhere...
There was much correspondence during 1898 between the PMG and the
Colonial Secretary: one of the main conclusions was that in Point 10 in
an amended regulation to cover ‘Official and Private Post Cards’ said
that ‘Private Cards prepaid at the
rate of postage applying to official cards may be used as post cards’
(15th December 1898).
These proposals (and others not listed) may have been forced on the
Postmaster-General by the introduction from 25th December 1898 of the
‘Imperial Penny Post’. In his report for the year ending 31st December
1898, the PMG noted that ‘...private
post cards... can now be sent to oversea countries which have adopted
the Imperial postage rate of one penny, because the letter rate and the
post card rate are the same’.
It should be noted here that Natal did not join the UPU until 1902; it
was scheduled to join earlier but the Anglo-Boer War intervened.
From 1st January 1902 private post cards could be addressed world-wide
at the rate applicable to official post cards. There were regulations
concerning correspondence that was not allowed on the address side.
From October 1904 private illustrated post cards with a space reserved
on the address side for correspondence were accepted for delivery
within southern Africa. The use of the address side for correspondence
was not allowed otherwise. Finally on 8th March 1906 private
illustrated post cards as above were allowed to be sent to a number of
countries, later revised at the end of 1906 to state that they would be
accepted addressed to any country, it being left to the postal
authority in the country of delivery on how to charge them.
Although not private, but official, the One Penny Illustrated postcard
of 1900 should be mentioned. It was the brainchild of Prime Minister
Sir Albert Hine who recommended that with the war interest illustrated
postal cards would be very popular. A set of five sepia on buff cards
was prepared by DLR. This scheme was repeated in 1903 for Edward VII.
Only 96,816 were again prepared by DLR as the market for illustrated
postal cards, was, at that time, dominated by privately produced
picture post cards.
This is a fascinating area of study and in this short article full
justice cannot really be done to a fairly complicated section of Natal
These 1884 issue Gd unused cards were used by Agents / Companies that
privately overprinted the reverse for their own usage. Additional
postage then had to be affixed to comply with Post Office Regulations.
1d letter rate card of 1888 used from Durban
1d letter rate from Ladysmith in 1889
1d letter rate from GPO Natal in 1893
Two unused examples of the 1894 'blocked' 1½d card giving a
value of ½d
Used card from Durban
An advertisement for potatoes at the ½d rate in 1901
Two examples of the official illustrated postal card 1900 at the 1d rate
A number of privately printed postal cards, including those shown here
were prepared for use during the siege of Ladysmith of 2nd November
1899 to 28th February 1900. Note that the cards are still marked
'Subject to Letter Rates'. They are said to have been
designed by Earl Robert of the Illustrated London News who was present
in Ladysmith at the time.
Pre-printed, pre-addressed, pre-paid cards could be sent out under
cover of the embossed ½d envelopes. This example from
Pietermaritzburg on 2nd April 1902 with a Ladysmith arrival strike on
7th April 1902
A mixed franking Letter Card of 1906
Edward VII ½d card. These are scarcer than the Victoria
(This article is reproduced from the May 2010 issue of the Postal
Stationery Society Journal)
Copyright 2003-13. All Rights Reserved
updated: 30 August 2013