Bakker History


[F.H. Bakker Express]

Locals of South Africa

With friendly permission by Tim Barthse, author for the FORERUNNERS Journal Presentation Issue 2006, Source: PSGSA

Boer Republics

F.H. Bakker Express Company Revisited

by Tim Bartshe

Some time back in 1998 (Forerunners #31), I discussed the Bakker Express labels and displayed each type along with some of their usages from auction catalogs. Subsequent to that time, a few more items have come to light that I would like to share them. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Bakker, a small refresher is in order on his mail-delivering services in the South African Republic between 1886 and 1887.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Postal route map of 1911.

The local mailcart service was centered in Nylstroom, according to the references I have been able to find. Most of the existing postal items in existence are to/from Emil Tamsen who, during this time,  lived in “Tweefontein, Waterberg”. Putzel’s listing of these two locations states the former was not open during the time period in question. Waterberg, interestingly enough, is listed as open in 1887 with its head office being Potgietersrust. Figure 1 shows a map taken from a Union GPO map of 1911(from the endpaper of Mathews’ book)

The major delivery points for the Bakker Express were Marabastad, halfway between Potgietersrust and Pietersburg, Nylstroom, and Pretoria. Therefore, three of the four labels issuedby Bakker include these names with Marabastad being abbreviated as MARABASTAD.The labels are green, blue and pink, respectively. The fee for delivery within Nylstroom was only 1/2d, while the more distant deliveries to the north or south were 1d. These values are given in each of the four corners ofthe labels. The other notation in the center of the labels, ‘VRY/TOT POSTK,’ means loosely “free to the next post office”. A fourth label was expressly for incoming mail using the service where the fee had not been prepaid. This label is white and readsTE/BETALEN in the center meaning “to pay.” The value in the corners incorrectly reads 1/2 instead of the double deficiency of 2d.


Figure 2

Figure 2. From Mauritius to the South African Republic in 1887.

The first example shows an incoming usage of the “due” label. Two recorded examples are known from the New Republic sent to Mr. Tamsen, March and May 1887. Without exhaustive research to prove otherwise, the only other incoming example I know about is shown in Figure 2. This highly brittle and damaged item came from Mauritius also to Emil Tamsen. It is dated 4March 1887 and arrived in Durban and moved on to Pretoria. The strikes are only partial on the reverse without dates clearly visable. From Pretoria. the Bakker Express carried the cover to Waterberg where the due label was affixed and canceled with the fancy boxed cancel. The Mauritius stamps total 16c and the BONC B53 cancels of Port Louis would indicate that some stamps are missing. The rate from the ZAR to Mauritius in 1887 was 9dper 1/2oz.

The next two covers come from a great collection formed in South Africa that was broken up last year. One of these a Tamsen cover with his name on it. The other was mailed with an illegible signature from Waterberg that may also belong to Tamsen.

Figure 3

Figure 3. From Transvaal to Egypt in 1887.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Registration cachet of Figure 3.

The two previously shown items in the 1998 article were cover to Senegal and a front to Switzerland without any ZAR postage. The first of the new items (Figure 3) is a registered letter to Egypt. Mailed 1 July 1887 (registration cancel of Pretoria, Figure 4), it was routed through Durban and Natal on 5 July via London on 2 August and arrived in Alexandria on 9 August. The pink Bakker label to Pretoria was canceled in Waterburg and paid the costs to get from Tweefontein to Pretoria (Figure 5).


Figure 5

Figure 5. Bakker label from Figure 3 canceled Waterburg.

The rates were cheaper via Natal, 7 1/2d, instead of 9 1/2d via Cape Town. The additional 6d is the registration fee. The franking is made up of 1/2d, 1d (rose) and 2 x 6d all perforated 12.5 x 12 of the August 1884 Vurtheim printing.

The second cover (Figure 6) is similarly registered but going to Italy. It was mailed from Waterberg to Pretoria utilizing the same Bakker label as used for the previous letter. It arrived in Pretoria on 7 May 1887. The cancels on the front are examples of the marks used by the British some 6 years prior (Figure 6), only later supplanted by the new registration cancel used on the previous cover. The letter to Italy likewise went through Durban on 17 May via London on 14 June and arrived in Rome on 17 June. The stamps on the reverse add up to 14d and overpaid the rate by 1/2d. The stamps are canceled by the newly requisitioned truncated double circle date stamp which has “PRETORIA. Z.A.R.” in the outer ring and a tripartite date code in the center. It is unclear in the scan, but is it possibly that it is the earliest usage of this cancel. The stamps are the newly received Vurtheim issues perforated 12.5 which were shipped late in 1886. These items are keenly sought out by Transvaal and local post collectors alike and are rarities of the first order when found on cover.

Figure 6

Figure 6. To Italy fromWaterberg in 1858.

Figure 7

Figure 7. Registration cachet of Figure 6.