This researcher can see, barely discernable under smudgy cork cancel, the manuscript ink pen writing. More prominent stands the writing of numbers 2/ 7, or 4. 7. In XIX Century very often number 4 was written with the left part in the shape of number 2. Quite possibly the numbers could stand for date 4th July 1874 or 7th of April 1874?
It is interesting to note that Wesley Darby had also used to write number 4 with left part in shape of number 2. In this peculiar manner Darby had written 4 of 1874 in the dated 2nd January1874 Declaration of charges adapted for conveyances of letters, books and parcels. This manuscript document was sign by W. Wesley Darby, Pro Ballance and Goodliffe.
This interesting document also announced: “Stamps to be obtained at the Mount Currie.”
This writer interprets above as “the stamps will be available soon at the trading store”.
The declared charge for letters of 1d to and from Mount Currie and Harding (the nearest post office in Natal since summer of 1873) appear rather normal and congruent with the function of Mount Currie Express stamp. However, the same charge for letters “to and from any part of Colony of Natal to mount Currie” appears rather incongruent and most likely indicates to intended, but unrealized function of the same stamp. It is also quite logical to assume that the Declaration for the new and intended service would be issued in advance of the issue and perhaps printing of the stamps of Mount Currie Express.
The Mount Currie stamps were printed in the sheets of twelve with rather oversized margins. The reconstructed sheet, from the author’s collection is presented here in Fig.4. All three of the illustrated in figures A,B,C used stamps have oversized margins trimmed.
Several references indicate that picking up the mail from the neighboring Natal was more of the function of post in New Griqualand, rather then sending outgoing letters.
The Killie Campbell 1978 reprint of Dowers’s book, The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griualand, carries the following notes on page 144:
Goodliffe and Balance were a Natal trading firm. In 1873 they opened three stores, one at Mount Currie and two in Matatiele District. News of the death of Dowers father was delayed because Darby (manager of the Mount Currie store) refused to collect letters for Dower, who denounced him for supplying liquor to Griquas.
The Sovereign of Griquas, Kaptyn Adam Kok III was not interested in establishing a postal communication on his territory. Dowers in his Annals (at page 31) referring to 1870, states:
“Our position was isolated indeed. The nearest post office was Umzimkulu Drift (Natal), 50 miles away, from whence we received letters and papers once a month, if we choose to send for them. Regular post there was none. Adam Kok did not believe in sending for letters; he thought he was better without them.”
It appear from above references that to pick up letters and papers from the closest functioning post in Natal was more common duty of the native runner then carry the outgoing mail. Highly likely and therefore, it is this writer speculation that the stamps with a cross cancel served as receipts for picking up the mail and the cork cancel was employed for outgoing mail. In both cases, at the time of use the large oversized margins of the stamps were trimmed by scissors. It is also highly likely that the post of W. Darby had still functioned and the stamps of Mount Currie Express were still used at around 4th of July 1874.