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Telegraph stamps of the World

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Up a level Not my site, but
a good reference:
Post Office Telegraphs Ceylon Telegraphs HongKong Telegraphs India Telegraphs Jamaica Telegraphs Orange Free State Telegraphs Orange Free State Telegraphs Australia
GB Ceylon Hong Kong India Jamaica Natal OFS Australia and states
Up a level by Dave Elsmore.
Matabeleland Telegraphs Sarawack Telegraphs Sudan Telegraphs Transvaal Telegraphs Uganda Railway NSW Telegraphs Western Australia Telegraphs Western Australia Telegraphs
Other Africa Sarawak Sudan Transvaal Uganda New South Wales Western Australia Other Australia


  I have brought these prices up to date and added currency selection.  
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Steve Hiscocks wrote:
The first telegraph line in Transvaal was set up by the British Government in 1880 to connect the Natal line with Pretoria via Standerton and
Heidelberg. The Boers, on regaining control in 1881, set up lines from Pretoria to most towns and villages. The British regained control in 1900.
Various stamps were used from 1880 onwards and the difficulty is in deciding which should be classified as telegraph stamps. In 1880 the revenue
stamps of 1878 were used. These were not differentiated for telegraph use and such use can only be deduced from cancellations. They cannot be
regarded as telegraph stamps for the purposes of this catalogue. In August 1881 large quantities of these were handed over to the Boers who
continued to use them. In 1884 a law was passed to the effect that postage stamps must be used and cancelled in use. Old Queen's head and new
Republic postage stamps were so used in large quantities — £1528 in 1885 and £3503 in 1886, with the rate as 1s/10 words, and usage increased way
beyond this in the 1890s. The British, on their return in June 1900 stopped the use of postage stamps and issued South African Republic (SAR)
revenue stamps overprinted V.R.I. (Victoria Regina Imperator) for telegraphic use. My information is that these stamps, from 1d to £5, were
specifically issued for this purpose and it therefore seems that they should be included as telegraph stamps although they were also used for revenue
purposes. As the lower values ran out they were replaced with SAR postage stamps of 1896—7 overprinted 'TRANSVAAL TELEGRAPHS' and, a little
later, surcharged as listed below. Further provisionals followed as the high value V.R.I. overprints ran out, including the 'Transvaal Telegraphs'
overprints on King Edward VII revenue stamps early in 1903. It seems that the use of special telegraph stamps ceased in 1903 and that revenue stamps
were used without differentiation thereafter. Telegraph Offices were not permitted to sell telegraph stamps to the general public and used copies
remained the property of the office. These stamps are therefore scarce — indeed, legally, none should have reached collectors !

My note:
I have illustrated a couple of these stamps with V.R.I. overprints that have cancels described as telegraphic. If that is true, then they are probably
the same as used for telegraphy before the overprints.

A 10s stamp is illustrated below with a cancel of July 1902.


Until 1900 when the British Army gained control, postage stamps and fiscal stamps were used for telegraphs in the Transvaal,
but without any identification as such beyond the cancel used.


Here is an interesting example of 6 x 1d stamps used on a telegraph form in Newcastle, Natal 25 October 1899.

6 x 1d used in Newcastle, Natal
Image courtesy of Andrew Higson.


Another interesting example.

Irene Military

A piece from a form of the N.Z.A.S.M. This was the 'Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij' (Dutch South African Railway Company.
Used 16 September 1900 at Irene Military with the only non-philatelic use of the halfpenny that I've seen, courtesy of Ian Paterson.


Hiscocks lists 1d, 6d, 1s, 1s6d, 2s, 2s6d, 5s, 10s, £1, £2 and £5 as types H1 to H11.
They are normally perf. 11½   but can be   11½ x 14.

ZAR Zegelregt 1d ZAR Zegelregt 6d ZAR Zegelregt 1s
1d  H1 6d  H2 1s  H3
Fiscal stamps used telegraphically, images courtesy of Oscar Van der Vliet.
ZAR Zegelregt 1s6d ZAR Zegelregt 2s ZAR Zegelregt 2s6d
1s6d   H4   (Scan Needed) 2s   H5   (Fiscally used) 2s6d   H6   (Source: Andrew Higson)
ZAR Zegelregt 5s ZAR Zegelregt 10s ZAR Zegelregt 20s
5s   H7 (1902) 10s   H8 £1   H9
ZAR Zegelregt stamps used telegraphically. H8, courtesy of Oscar Van der Vliet Used telegraphically by Pretoria Military.


ZAR Zegelregt £2 ZAR Zegelregt £5
£2   H10   (Source: Andrew Higson) £5   H11   (Fiscally used)



Used prices here are for stamps with Army Telegraph cancels.

Hisc. Description Mint Used
H1 1d light greyish blue, perf. 11½   3.00 15.00
H1a         perf. 11½ x 14 5.00 20.00
H2 6d rose carmine, perf. 11½ 3.00 10.00
H2a         perf. 11½ x 14 5.00 16.00
H3 1s light greyish blue, perf. 11½   3.75 10.00
H3a         perf. 11½ x 14 7.50 18.00
H4 1s6d olive-bistre, perf. 11½ 10.00 24.00
H4a         perf. 11½ x 14 15.00 36.00
H5 2s orange, perf. 11½ 10.00 18.00
H5a         perf. 11½ x 14 15.00 30.00
H6 2s6d dull purple, perf. 11½ 10.00 18.00
H6a         perf. 11½ x 14 15.00 30.00
H7 5s bistre, perf. 11½ 10.00 15.00
H7a         perf. 11½ x 14 15.00 25.00
H8 10s brown-ochre, perf. 11½ 10.00 15.00
H8a         perf. 11½ x 14 15.00 25.00
H9 £1 orange-brown, perf. 11½ 15.00 30.00
H9a         perf. 11½ x 14 25.00 50.00
H10 £2 red-brown, perf. 11½ 25.00 75.00
H10a         perf. 11½ x 14 40.00 100.00
H11 £5 yellow-green, perf. 11½ 50.00 125.00
H11a         perf. 11½ x 14 50.00 125.00

ZAR Zegelregt 2s6d  ZAR Zegelregt 20s
Argll-Etkin sold a number of similar stamps as these on the basis of these being telegraph cancels.
Does anyone know if these were the cancels used when sending civilian telegrams ?
Images courtesy of Mark Gibson.


From about September 1901 stamps were overprinted 'Transvaal / Telegraphs' instead of 'V.R.I.' to segregate them from normal postage/fiscal stamps.


Hiscocks lists 1d, 3d, 4d, 6d, 1s and 2s6d of the series below as H12 to H17.

Transvaal Telegraph 1d Transvaal Telegraph 3d Transvaal Telegraph 4d
1d   H12 3d   H13 4d   H14
Transvaal Telegraph 6d Transvaal Telegraph 1s Transvaal Telegraph 2s6d
6d   H15 1s  H16 2s6d   H17  Source: Andrew Higson

here are H12, H15, and H17.

Can anyone provide scans of H13, H14 or H16 ?

There are forgeries about. Here is an example:
Army Telegraph ½d Fournier fake
This is a Fournier production
'r' of 'Telegraphs' looks different and no stop on end.
courtesy of James Bendon
(Click on image to see source).

Transvaal overprint on COGH 6d Fiscal - pair Transvaal overprint on COGH 1s Fiscal. Transvaal Telegraph 1s on 2s6d Transvaal Telegraph 1s on 2s6d - used
Scarce 6d (Source: Andrew Higson) 1s   H18 1s on 2s6d   H19 H19 used from RL.


Hisc. Description Mint Used
H12 1d carmine-red and green (SG217), perf. 12½   35.00 25.00
H13 3d purple and green (SG220), perf. 12½ - -
H14 4d sage green and green (SG221), perf. 12½ - -
H15 6d dull purple and green (SG222), perf. 12½ 40.00 30.00
H16 1s ochre and green (SG223), perf. 12½ - -
H17 2s6d grey-lilac and green (SG224), perf. 12½   75.00 60.00
H18 1s COGH lilac and blue, perf. 13½ 50.00 50.00
- 6d COGH dull mauve and lilac, perf. 13½ 150.00 150.00
H19 1s on 2s6d grey-lilac, perf. 12½ 50.00 30.00


The remaining telegraph stamps listed by Hiscocks are all
overprinted 'Transvaal / Telegraphs' :

H205s   on   £2   (H10)
H21ZAR 6d overprinted E.R.I.
H221s KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted as types H12 to H17 above.  
H2310s KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted similarly but in italics.  
H24£1 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted in italics.
H25£5 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted in italics.


5s on £2 Zegelregt stamp - H20 6d E.R.I. stamp - H21 6d E.R.I. stamp - H21 6d E.R.I. stamp - H21 1s KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted
5s   H20, feint J HN (Source: Andrew Higson) 6d   H21 (Source: Andrew Higson) 6d   H21 from RL 6d   H21 (Source: SandaFayre.com) 1s   H22 mockup

Can anyone provide a scan of a real H22 ?
This is a mockup from Hiscocks description of what it should look like !

Although looking much 'neater' this is a forgery.
Compare letters 'e' and 's', they are much more italic looking.
6d H21 forgery It does not look like a Fournier.
Army Telegraph ½d Fournier fake
The 'al' of 'Transvaal' looks different
and the 'e's and 's' of 'Telegraphs'.
Courtesy of Andrew Higson. Courtesy of James Bendon who has many
more Fournier examples for sale.
(Click on image to see source).


10s KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted £1 10/- KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted £1 £1 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted £1 £5 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted
10s  H23, J 31.VII.02.HN (Source: SandaFayre.com) 10/-   H23, Image courtesy of Mark Gibson. £1   H24, Image courtesy of Mark Gibson. £1   H25, Image courtesy of Mark Gibson.

There are many forgeries of these, note the genuine overprints shown above.
There are two different though similar types of this overprint which are illustrated along with Hiscocks H21 on
page 44 of 'The Transvaal Philatelist' v39,no2 (150), May 2004


Hisc. Description Mint Used
H20 5s on £2 red-brown, perf. 11½ 300.00 200.00
H21 6d dull purple and green, perf. 12½ 150.00 125.00
H22 1s green and dull purple, perf. 14 - -
H23 10s blue and grey, perf. 14 375.00 200.00
H24 £1 olive and grey, perf. 14 500.00 300.00
H25 £5 purple and grey, perf. 14 1250.00 900.00


The ones shown below are some examples of forgeries.

Transvaal 2/6d bogus. 10s KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted - forgery £1 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted - forgery £5 KEVII Revenue stamp overprinted - forgery
Bogus FORGED overprints on 2s6d courtesy of  RL. NOT H23, H24 and H25   -   These scans with FORGED overprints are kindly provided by Oscar Van der Vliet.   Buyers Beware!   Genuine above.

Illustrations of type H20 and more forgeries of H23, H24 and H25 can be seen at the bottom of  HAVING THE REVENUE ON A LINE.



Army Telegraph cancel on other items.

From the evidence, by the time the Army entered the Transvaal, they were low on stocks of all but the high values.
When stocks ran out they used local stamps overprinted V. R. I. Later these stamps were overprinted "Telegraphs" and those items were listed by Hiscocks.
Provisionally however the Army Telegraphs used this series for low values without the "Telegraphs" overprint.

Transvaal VRI trio
This trio, courtesy of Bram Leeflang.

Although Hiscocks does not list them, they are documented in 'The Transvaal Philatelist' journal of the “Transvaal Study Circle” TP 150 (May 2004) page 41.
These are normal postage stamps known used for telegraphic purposes from July 1900 to April 1901.

Transvaal 10s Controller     Transvaal 10s Controller Transvaal £1 Controller Transvaal £1 Controller Transvaal £5 Controller Transvaal 6d Controller
Interesting cancels from RL, on telegraphically used 10/- postage stamps at
Johannesburg. The first used 8 July 1912 and the second, star-punched,
cancelled 6 January 1914.
These are marked "CONTROLLER" and "C.T.O" (Chief Telegraph Office).
A 15 January 1912 example
on the £1 from RL.
A 1913 example on the £1 courtesy
of  Deverell & Macgregor
click image for listing.
A 1913? example on the £5 courtesy
of  EmpirePhilatelists.com
click image for listing.
A 1913 example on the 6d courtesy
of Arkadiy Avrorov.
Clearly this was not only used
on the highest face values.

Below is a range of revenues with star shaped punch holes, 2/- to £1 Revenue dated 1 November 1907.
These have little to indicate useage or location. All from RL.

Transvaal 2/- Star-cancel   Transvaal 2/6d Star-cancel   Transvaal £1 small Star-cancel   Transvaal £1 Star-cancel



An interesting 1894 form of the N.Z.A.S.M. This was the 'Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij' (Dutch South African Railway Company, operated from 1879 to about 1902)
Not to be confused with the later Nederlandsch Zuid-Afrikaansche Scheepvaart Maatschappij (Dutch South African Shipping Company).

NZASM Telegram
Image courtesy of Fernando Torres.


A Field Telegraphs telegram form of the Z.A.R. apparently printed in 1900 in Elandslaagte, Natal.

ZAR Field Telegram
Image courtesy of Fernando Torres.


A Transvaal Telegraphs telegram form apparently used to send a letter from Standerton.

Transvaal Telegram
Image courtesy of the Transvaal Study Circle.


Joburg delivery envelope       P.P.S.M. Form 179 delivery envelope

A Telegram delivery envelope used in Johanneburg and a P.P.S.M. Form No. 179 sent Army Post to Castleford, Yorks. England. Images courtesy of the Transvaal Study Circle.



Steve Hiscocks made a start on cataloguing seals of the world in a book he published in 2007.
It was his hope to update it later, but unfortunately that was not to be.
His original book can be viewed at Telegraph Seals: A World Catalogue. There are links from the pages to my updates.

Alternatively you can view the latest page with this seal.



Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 3rd. June 2024

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Permission is hereby granted to copy material for which the copyright is owned by myself, on condition that any data is not altered and this website is given credit.


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