British Bechuanaland is the area south of the Molopo River, declared a crown colony on 30 September 1855 comprising Stellaland, Goshen and other adjacent territories. On 16 November 1895 the colony was incorporated into Cape of Good Hope. During the period from 1885-1895 stamps of Great Britain and the Cape of Good Hope were overprinted for use in the territory, together with stamps specially printed for the area using the "unappropriated die" designs. Although it is a totally distinct territory from the adjacent Bechuanaland Protectorate, Mafeking (in British Bechuanaland) acted as postal headquarters for both territories, and the stamps of both territories were used in both areas. As a point of pedantry, stamp catalogues should list the issues of "British Bechuanaland" under Cape of Good Hope and South Africa, not under Bechuanaland/Botswana.
Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.
The first set was created by overprinting the contemporary stamps of Cape of Good Hope in 1885; in 1887 this was replaced by stamps in the British unappropriated die series, for which no ½d value existed so that the British ½d was overprinted to complete the set.
Overprinted "British Bechuanaland"
1 November 1887
1 ½d orange
1 v1 overprint double
A range of issues overprinted on Cape of Good Hope stamps were used until the values shown below were issued in 1891, with the ½d continuing in use as part of the "unappropriated die" set and the other additional values.
1 December 1891 (except as shown)
The post office had a real problem locating the overprint to avoid obscuring the face value, and had to compromise on its normal policy of not covering the monarch's face.
2 1d lilac
3 2d green & red
Note: the 3d exists with a "specimen" overprint, but was never issued.
4 4d green & brown
5 6d black on red
6 1/- green (July 1894)
4 v1 4d bisected for 2d, Nov 1899 at Palapye station in the Protectorate
6 v1 1/- bisected for 6d, Dec 1904 at Kanye in the Protectorate
British Bechuanaland was incorporated into Cape of Good Hope on 16 November 1895, but the stamps continued to be used in the Bechuanaland Protectorate whose postal services remained under South African administration (see for example the bisects of numbers 4 and 6 above).
page last updated: 31 December 2009
gbos: GB Overprints Society