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Stellaland Forgeries - Introduction

The Republic of Stellaland founded in January 1883 issued its one and only set of stamps in February 1884. Less than two years later, in September 1885, a British expeditionary force under Sir Charles Warren abolished the Republic and formally annexed it to British Bechuanaland. The stamps remained on sale for a few more months before being superseded by the stamps of British Bechuanaland in December 1885.
Yet, despite this short lived Republic being of almost negligible world consequence, its legacy lives on in the set of five nondescript stamps which seem to have inspired forgers the world over.

Stellaland stamps, defnitive series of 1884

One can only assume then that it is the relative scarcity of these stamps along with a simple, easily reproducible single colour design, that has made them such an attractive target for the less than scrupulous.


Most forgeries are relatively easy to distinguish by comparing them against the genuine stamps when available. The colour and paper differences are often quite noticeable. Also, many of the forgeries were incorrectly perforated; the genuine stamps being perforated 11 ½ to 12. There are also eight identifying features that can be used to distinguish the genuine stamps:

Stellaland stamp forgery genuine identifier

  1. Two shading lines in the upper right quadrant of the shield protrude into the left of the star, the top line more so than the lower.
  2. The 3rd and 4th lines of shading in the upper right quadrant of the shield are further apart than the others
  3. A ball at the top of the S of STELLALAND
  4. There is a minute dot level with the top and just before the second E of REPUBLIEK
  5. There is a ball at the base of the upright of the R of REPUBLIEK
  6. The upper point of the left leaf below the shield does not touch the scroll
  7. The bottom point of the left leaf below the shield has its tip cut through
  8. There is a minute dot after the S and a second one above the T of POSTZEGEL

Stellaland een shilling stamp forgery genuine identifier In addition to the above list, genuine 1 shilling stamps have a white spot to the left of the central point of the star in the shield, and the first letter 'E' of the word EEN is slightly raised with the respect to the other letters.

The features listed above do not help with identifying one particular set of forgeries produced from a lithograph stone borrowed or stolen from the original printing firm.
As the value tablet was not part of the stone, the measurement used for forging the value tablets was based on the length of the ZES PENCE. As a result the value tablets of the other four values are slightly shorter than on the genuine stamps thus providing a useful means of identifying the forgeries.

EEN PENNY13.5mm12.5mm
DRIE PENCE14.5mm13.5mm
VIER PENCE15mm13.5mm
ZES PENCE17mm17mm


Stellaland did not possess a cancelling device, instead stamps were cancelled by hand using pen and ink. The most common cancellation being in the form of the postmaster's initials along with date of posting. Genuine cancellations are also found with only the date or the stroke of a pen, yet other mail escaped cancellation completely.
Post from Stellaland is often found with postmarks of transit or receiving post offices such as Christiana in the Transvaal, or Kimberley and Barkly West in the Cape.


  • H. R. Holmes - The Postage Stamps, Postal Stationery, and Postmarks of the Bechuanalands
    Royal Philatelic Society, London, 1971
  • Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Southern and Central Africa, 1st Edition 2011
    Stanley Gibbons Ltd, 2011
  • The South African Stamp Colour Catalogue, 30th Edition 2010/11
    Tracinda Publications (Pty) Ltd, 2010