African Stamps, South West Africa

Country Collecting South West Africa

Country Collecting South West Africa

Collecting Stamps by country – South West Africa (SWA).

If you are considering starting a single country stamp collection with an endpoint then SWA is one worth considering. It had a fairly conservative issuing policy and although some of the earlier issues are pricy you can put together a nice collection even with a modest budget.

The country became the Independent Republic of Namibia in 1990,  so there is a natural stopping point. However, if you want to carry on then you will find that Namibia is a comparatively cheap area to collect. It was German South-West Africa in the late 19th & Early 20th centuries too, adding collecting interest.

Where Is South West Africa

SWA is located as the name would suggest on the southwest coast of Africa.  It borders the Atlantic Ocean, with a coastline that stretches for around 976 miles. Its shared land borders include Zambia and Angola to the north & Botswana and South Africa to the south & east. It also has a river border with  Zimbabwe as the Zambezi River separates the two countries.

Stamp Collecting History

Parts of South West Africa were was under British control from around 1796 and in the early days, British stamps would have been used in the colony. From the 1850s those of South Africa & The Cape of Good Hope were used and these stamps with SWA postmarks are a collecting interest in their own right.

German South West Africa

From 1884 the area was known as German South-West Africa, and German stamps were used here until 1897 when the authorities started issuing SWA specific stamps.

South West Africa

Initially, these were German stamps overprinted “Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika”, but in 1900 the popular Yachts set replaced them.

German South-West Africa was invaded by Allied troops during WWI and from 1915 South African stamps were used. After the war, the colony was awarded as a League of Nations mandate to the Union of South Africa.

The First South West Africa Set

The first South West Africa specific stamps were issued in 1923 as a set of 12 ranging from 1/2d to £1. They were overprints of the South Africa set, and this was done bi-lingually in English & Afrikaans. This set is most prized as bi-lingual pairs and finding the top values used is no easy task. Even the lower values in pairs are quite scarce particularly postally used.


This mandate was revoked in 1966, but South Africa refused to surrender the territory. In 1978 South Africa began allowing limited self-government. The country became independent as the Republic of Namibia in 1990, although South Africa continued to occupy some of its territories until its final withdrawal.



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