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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today's Collector's Focus: 100th Anniversary Of The First South African airmail Flight Odd Shape Stamps  

The SAPO (South African Post Office) issued on 7/10/11 a stamp set miniature sheet with an odd shape as an aircraft, commemorating the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight.

This set depicts the aircraft in flight in 1911, the first South African airmail flight between Kenilworth and Muizenberg which is the first post office in South Africa that has received an airmail.

The history of the South African Post Office can be traced back over 500 years. In 1500, the captain of a Portuguese ship, Petro D'Ataide, placed a letter in a milkwood tree at Moseel Bay.  
On 2 March 1792 the acting governor of the Cape, John Isaac, opened a post office in a room next to the pantry at the Castle in Cape Town. This was the start of what became the South Africa Post Office (SAPO). By 1805 there was a regular inland mail service between Algoa, Algoa Bay and False Bay in the Cape, using farmers on horseback. A mail wagon ran twice a week between Cape Town and the town of Stellenbosch.    
Mail was transported by motor car for the first time in 1911, and SAPO experimented using camels to deliver mail, replacing them with an ox cart service in 1914. In December 1911, the first air mail delivery took place with a 7.5 min flight from Kenilworth in Cape Town to Muizenberg. The mail was carried in the same model of aircraft as that used two years earlier by Louis Bleriot to cross the England/France channel.
By 1919, there was a regular motor car service, and a regular air-mail service was introduced the same year. The first overseas air-mail service was introduced in 1932, and the Springbok Air Service was introduced between the Union of South Africa and Britain in 1945. The first definitive stamp series of the Republic of South Africa was issued on 31 May 1961 after South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth because of its apartheid policies at the time.
In 1973, postcodes were introduced to facilitate automated mail sorting and standardized letters were introduced later that year. In 1994, South Africa was readmitted to the Univesral Postal Union  following the end of apartheid. SAPO currently operates under a 25 year license granted by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and in terms of this must provide a universal service to all the citizens of the country.

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