Bechuanaland and Botswana Philately

British Bechuanaland Stamps
British Bechuanaland
1885 - 1887 Overprints on Cape of Good Hope
Watermark Crown CC
Watermark Anchor
SG 1
½d Grey-black
SG 2
3d Pale claret
SG 3
4d Dull blue
SG 5
1d Rose red
SG 6
2d Pale Bistre
SG 7
6d Reddish purple
SG 8
1/- Green

1888 Overprint on Great Britain
SG 9s

Type BEC2
SG 9s

Type GB9
SG 9
½d Vermilion

First printing without marginal rule

1888 Unappropriated Dies
SG 10
1d Lilac
SG 13
4d Lilac
SG 14
6d Lilac
SG 15
1/- Green
SG 16
2/- Green
SG 17
2/6 Green
SG 18
5/- Green
SG 19
10/- Green

SG 20
£1 Lilac Mint
SG 20
£1 Lilac Fiscally Used
SG 20
£1 Lilac Used
SG 21
£5 Lilac Mint
SG 21
£5 Lilac Used

1888 Local Vryburg Overprints
SG 28
1s on 1s
SG 22
1d on 1d
SG 23
2d on 2d
SG 25
4d on 4d
SG 26
6d on 6d

1888 Local Surcharge
1888 Overprint Reading Up SG 30 - 31
SG 29
One Half-Penny
On 3d
SG 31 - 32s
Handstamped Specimen
Samuel type BEC2
SG 31
1d Carmine red
SG 31
1d Variety i in British
Almost omitted
SG 32
2d Bistre

1891- 1904
Great Britain Overprints

SG 33 - 37

1891 C.O.G.H.
Overprints reading downwards
SG 38e
1893 1d
With no dots to
i of British

Illustrations courtesy Alan MacGregor and Otto Peetoom

BRITISH BECHUANALAND 1891 Overprint Varieties                        
By Tony Stanford  

Dissatisfaction with the suitability of the low value unappropriated dies for postal usage led to De La Rue being instructed in 1891 to overprint the current 1d lilac and the 2d, 4d and 6d Jubilee definitives ‘BRITISH BECHUANALAND’ in two lines. These values were overprinted and issued in December 1891. The overprinted ½d Jubilee had been in use since 1887 and there was no requirement for a three pence value. Uncharacteristically, these De la Rue overprints produced a number of varieties.

The 1d, 2d and 6d values were printed in sheets with two panes of 120 comprising 10 rows of 12 stamps, one pane above the other. The three values were overprinted using a 240 set forme to print both panes in one operation.

The one established constant flaw for these values is the top right stroke of the ‘H’ of ‘BRITISH’ cut at an angle as illustrated. This flaw was referred to in the 2/81 edition of the Overprinter by H.R. Holmes, the author of the definitive reference book on Bechuanaland philately.
The position of this flaw has since been established as row 7 position 8 on the upper pane. Interestingly, all three overprints are sloping slightly downwards.

Another constant flaw on the upper pane is the short leg of R and chamfered top of U on row 3 position 12 illustrated from an upper right corner block of the two pence stamps.

There were three over-printings of the penny value: in November 1891 on control N, in February 1894 on control O and finally in January 1895 on control R and it is assumed the same plate was used for all over-printings of the four values without making any corrections to minor defects.
Illustrated are the bottom right corner of the lower pane of the QV 1d lilac with control R and continuous marginal rule which is rounded at the corners and perforated through the bottom margin from which three minor overprint varieties are positioned and the single stamps with controls N and O.

The lower pane of the one penny lilac allows three minor varieties to be identified

R14/2 Chamfered left arm of U

R14/6 Damage to tops of HU and short L

R20/6 Damage to right leg of first H
Other overprint varieties that have not been positioned are
Short 2nd I


Damaged B
In 1894 the one shilling green Jubilee definitive was also issued using the overprint forme set up for the two panes of 120 stamps, so it can be expected to have some of the same flaws as the other values, although none have been recorded.

In his book ‘The Postage Stamps, Postal Stationery and Postmarks of the Bechuanalands’ Holmes states ”It seems likely that the stamps were printed from stereos made from the original type setting, and that these stereos were renewed as a fresh printing was required, as broken letters that appear on one sheet do not always occur on other sheets. The broken letters, however, are of no real importance.” That last sentence needs clarifying. Finding and positioning constant flaws is truly fascinating for a student of the overprints and can lead to a greater understanding of how the overprinting was done.

However, many of the overprint flaws to be seen were transitory and caused by a perforation chad or some other matter that was stuck on the type face. Such flaws can normally be identified by carefully examining the front and back of the stamp. Below is an example of with such transitory flaws, often referred to as perf flaws, which are of not any real significance.

There is a visible pale stretch mark where what was probably a perforation chad on the type-face has pushed down above the short first I and there is a typical indent with central black mark where the upper part of the I should be. There is a similar black mark where there is a ‘break’ in the B of Bechuanaland.

The author would welcome reports of the above or
other overprint varieties on these 1891 Jubilee overprints,
ideally with scans of 300 dpi or higher.


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