1882 Cape of Good Hope One Half Penny Overprinted Stamps

In July 1882, the Cape of Good Hope postal authorities issued a new provisional stamp. This was the ” One Half­penny ” on Three Pence, claret. This overprint issue became necessary by the passing off Act No. 4 of 1882. This act introduced, among other alterations in postal rates, the charge upon newspapers transmitted inland was reduced to 1 1/2 d. each as from the first day of the month in question.

Mint Pair of Overprints. Note the left stamp has a stop between 'Half' and 'penny' and the 'e' is defective in 'One'.
Mint Pair of Overprints. Note the left stamp has a stop between ‘Half’ and ‘penny’ and the ‘e’ is defective in ‘One’.

At the beginning of March 1882, there were on hand in the Cape of Good Hope Treasury, approximately 400,000 stamps of the Half-penny value of the ordinary type, and anticipating that this quantity would be sufficient to last for some considerable time, and there then being some doubt as to the passage of the Post Office Bill through Parliament, the quarterly order for the supply of 48,000 stamps of the Half-penny value had been suspended at the request of the Postmaster General, after the dispatch of the usual number in January 1882.

It was subsequently learned, however, that the Post Office Bill was to pass into law during the session of Parliament then sitting, and the Postmaster General of the Cape of Good Hope accordingly requested in April 1882 that the supply of Half-penny stamps might be immediately resumed, and that the quarterly shipment should be increased to 810,000 until further notice.

Meanwhile the demand which was received for supplies of Half-penny stamps, from most of the country post offices, in anticipation of the commencement of the new newspaper tariff from the 1st July, had greatly reduced the Treasury stocks of that value on hand, leaving only small supplies for the Capetown Post Office and those of one or two of the other larger towns.

On the 30 th June the Postmaster General drew the attention of the Treasury to the position, and requested that the supplies ordered in April might be cabled for. He also requested authorization from the Treathat in view of the urgent requirements that were envisaged by the passage of the new Act, authority might be given for the provision of a temporary issue by surcharging.

Shifted overprint
Shifted overprint
At the same time he pointed out that as the new postal tariff contemplated the reduction of the half-ounce letter rate inland, later in the year, from 3d. to 2d., the demand for 3d stamps would be greatly reduced, and that the opportunity should therefore be taken to meet the present emergency by utilizing a portion of the accumulated stock of 3d stamps on hand in the Treasury vaults.

An order was accordingly placed with Messrs. Saul Solomon & Co. to carry out the necessary work, and 1,000 sheets of stamps were handed to them for treatment, and were returned to the Treasury, duly surcharged with the new value, on or before the 7th July, 1882.

As has already been mentioned in the previous chapter, the Three Pence stamps upon the Crown С A paper had come into use, and the bulk of the 1,000 sheets which were converted into Half-penny stamps were upon the paper with the new Crown C A watermark.

A few sheets, however, with tlic Crown С С watermark were included and received the surcharge, but, unfortunately, there is no information in the Cape Treasury records which would enable any estimate to be made as to the actual number. Whatever this number was very few stamps survived with this overprint on Crown CC paper.

The surcharged stamps were handed to the Postmaster General on or before the 7th July 1882. Upon examination it was found that many of these sheets had been poorly over­printed. The surcharge applied was greatly “off centre ” as to render them useless for postal purposes.

A certificate files in the Cape Archives records that nNo less than 428 of the 1,000 sheets were discarded and destroyed in the presence of a Treasury official.

A similar number of fresh sheets of Three Pence stamps were handed over to the printers, who were required to make good, their previous defective work, without extra cost to the Government.

In this connection it is noteworthy that the stamps bearing the surcharge in question which are watermarked Crown С С are nearly always found with the surcharge badly misplaced to the left of the design to such an extent that the letter “H”of” Half-penny ” does not appear, having fallen upon the right-hand edge of the immediate left-hand neighbouring stamp, or, in the case of the first vertical line of stamps of the left-hand upper and lower panes, upon the outside margin of the sheet, and, in the case of those in the first vertical line of the right-hand upper and lower panes, upon the “gutter” margin dividing the panes.

The surcharge, which is in black, was applied to panes of 60 stamps at a time. It consists of the words “One Half-penny” in two lines, printed nominally across the centre of each stamp in lower case letters with capital initials, whilst the original value is obliterated by a bar which may be found in two widths of 1.1 mm and 2 mm. The word “One” is 5 mm. and “Half-penny” 16 mm in length. There were no errors in connection with this local provisional, but varieties of considerable philatelic interest occurred, particulars of which are given below:

VARIETIES (Watermark Crown C A only):

With the hyphen between ” Half” and ” penny ” omitted.
With the letter ” p ” omitted.
With the letter ” у ” omitted.
With the foot of the letter ” у ” broken off.
With a comma instead of a stop after the word ” Half-penny.”
With the obliterating bar omitted.
With the obliterating bar at top of stamp and the words ” One Half-penny ” below.
With the obliterating bar at both top and bottom of stamp.

Note. Other minor varieties, caused by the use of defective or broken type, also exist. Prima facie it would appear that as the above varieties exist on the stamps watermarked Crown С A, they should also be found on those watermarked Crown С С. This, however, does not necessarily follow, and at any rate none lias been seen by the writer.

It is probable that the few Crown С С sheets, which were surcharged, were dealt with first, before type letters fell out of the forme or became damaged during the course of the work.

The Postal Act of 1882 (Act 4 of 1882)

Extract from Postmaster’s Report

Postal Act. – The laws regulating the management of the Post Office being scattered throughout the Statute Book from 1846 to 1879, making it difficult with the numerous amendments brought in from time to time, to know without considerable study the law upon any particular point, rendered it highly desirable that a consolidated law should be passed.

To prepare this the existing Postal enactments of the Mother Country and the several Colonies were carefully collated,and a Bill framed embodying the most advanced postal legislation was prepared.

In it provision was made for remedying whatever experience had shown to be defective in the existing law, and for carrying out improvements, such as the introduction of Postal Orders, the establishment of the Inland Parcel Post, the transmission of letters posted unpaid (which heretofore were returned to the writers), and the return of unclaimed prepaid letters to the writers free of charge.

The postage on letters inland was reduced from threepence to twopence the half-ounce, that on newspapers from one penny to a halfpenny, and postcards at one penny were allowed to be transmitted throughout the Colony.

Power was also conferred upon the Governor, by Proclamation in the Gazette, after the 1st October next (when the present Ocean Mail Contract ceases), to reduce the inland postage on letters to one penny – the half-ounce and on postcards to one halfpenny each. In view, however, of the state of the finances generally, and of the considerable deficit in the Postal Revenue as against its Expenditure, which will not be rectified until the new contracts are fully in operation, it is deemed expedient not to propose any further reduction until 1884, when the full effect of the working of the new contracts will be tested.

Power was also conferred upon the Government to enter into postal conventions with other Administrations.

Provision was also made in the Act for dealing with unpaid and insufficiently paid letters, as is the practice generally throughout the Postal Union, by charging them upon delivery with double the deficient postage.

This Bill, with slight amendments, was passed by the Legislature, and as Act 4 of 1882 constitute the whole of the existing Colonial Postal Law (1882, p. 13-14).