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South Africa Sea Post Office
Union Castle Ocean Post Offices

By Mike Dovey.

The original "Cape Colony" mail contract was first introduced in 1893 and was to run for a seven year period, the contract being given to both the Union Line and the Union Castle Line. In 1900 a new ten year contract was sought by the South African Post Office with a view to pitting both shipping companies against each other to force a reduced tender for a contract. However, neither company tendered and as there were no other lines capable of maintaining such a contract the SA Post Office had to enter new negotiations for the contract. It was during these negotiations that a clause forbidding the two companies to merge lapsed and the two companies were able to come together under the colours of the Union Castle Line although the Union Line vessels maintained their own names.

Picture postcard of Union castle Line 'RMS Saxon' Address side of picture postcard cancelled CAPE COLONY OCEAN POST OFFICE
R.M.S. Saxon with a Cape Colony Type 1 cancellation, index E dated 1907.
Cape Colony Ocean Post Office Type 1 cancel Cape Colony Ocean Post Office Type 2 cancel Cape Colony Ocean Post Office Type 3 cancel
Type 1 Type 2 Type 3

The vessel using Type 1 and Type 2 cancellations is indicated by the letter of the alphabet below "Cape Colony".

Type 1. Type 2.
A   Scot (1893 - 1900) No Letter   Kildonan Castle (1904 - 1907)
B Dunottar Castle (1893 - 1900) C Kildonan Castle (1907 - 1911)
  Armadale Castle (1905 - 1912)   Walmer Castle (1902 - 1911)
C Mexican (1893 - 1900)    
D Hawarden Castle (1893 - 1899)    
  Carisbrooke Castle (1899 - 1910)      
  Balmoral Castle (1910 - 1911)    
E Tartar (1893 - 1897)    
  Spartan (1898) Type 3.
  Saxon (1900 - 1911) No Letter Kenilworth Castle (1904 - 1911)
F Norham Castle (1893)    
G Athenian (1893 - 1896)    
  Briton (1897 - 1911)    
H Roslin Castle (1893 - 1894)    
  Dunvegan Castle (1896 - 1903)    
  Edinburgh Castle (1910 - 1911)    
J Moor (1894 - 1900)    
  Armadale Castle (1903 - 1905) Type 4.
K Roslin Castle (1894 - 1897) E Saxon (1911 - 1913)
  Carisbrook Castle (1898)    
  Kinfaus Castle (1903 - 1911)    
L Spartan (1893 - 1894)    
  Norman (1895 - 1911)    
M Norham Castle (1895 - 1898)    
  Dunottar Castle (1900 - 1901)    
  Scot (1902)    
N Tantallon Castle (1894 - 1900)    
Picture postcard of Union castle Line 'RMS Walmer Castle' Address side of picture postcard cancelled CAPE COLONY OCEAN POST OFFICE type 2
R.M.S Walmer Castle with a Cape Colony Type 2 cancellation dated 1908.

In 1910 the new Union of South Africa was formed and new double ring cancellations were introduced for use on the mail contract. These were used until the outbreak of World War One and were never introduced again. After 1918 all mail carried on board the Union Castle vessels was treated the same as all mail posted on the high seas and a paquebot cancellation was used at a point of landing.

Union of S Africa Ocean P.O. Type 4 cancel Union of S Africa Ocean P.O. Type 5 cancel United Kingdom & S. Africa Sea P.O. Type 6 cancel
Type 4 Type 5 Type 6

Vessels using the Type 5 & 6 cancellations are indicated by the number at the base of the mark.

Type 5. Type 6.
1   Armadale Castle (1912 - 1913) 1   The various numbers were used by all
2 Balmoral Castle (1912 - 1913) 2 of the vessels in Type 5, plus the MV's
3 Briton (1912 - 1913) 3 Norman and Saxon, same dates.
4 Edinburgh Castle (1912 - 1913)    
5 Kenilworth Castle (1912 - 1913)   5  
6 Kildonan Castle (1912 - 1913) 6 (The "S" at the top of the cancel indicates
7 Kinfaus Castle (1912 - 1913)   South or "N" for North).
8   8  
9 Walmer Castle (1912 - 1913) 9  
Picture postcard of Union castle Line 'RMS Kinfaus Castle' Address side of picture postcard cancelled UNION OF S AFRICA OCEAN P. O. type 5
R.M.S.Kinfaus Castle with a Union of SA Type 5 cancellation dated 1912.
 

Bibliography:

British Maritime Postal History Volume 3 - The Union Castle Line, by P.Cattell.


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