Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mills of South Africa

I received only last week the October-December 2007 edition of SETEMPE, the South African post office philatelic magazine. Inside I read about an interesting stamp issue that I would like to share with you.The set contains five stamps and was issued on the 9th of November 2007. The subject of the set is : mills of South Africa.
Why did I find it interesting ? First because I know that some of you, my readers, are interested in mills on stamps. Secondly, the stamp contains a very specific particularity, which is a premiere for the South African post office, and probably a premiere worldwide. But I’ll come on this later.
Some words about the mills that are pictured on the stamps :

- Colesberg Horse & Mill located in Colesberg, Northern Cape. In the Northern Cape, horse mills could be found in almost every farm, to cope with lack of water or wind. Once a working Horse Mill of the farm, Sewefontain in the Colesburg district, this mill has been recreated into an old coach house.
- Mosterts Mill located in Cape Town, Western Cape. This is undoubtedly the best known Dutch-style windmill in South Africa. The mill was built in 1796. In 1889 the mill was sold to Cecil John Rhodes, then the Prime Minister of the Cape. He had the old farmhouse redesigned. Today, Mosterts Mill is a major tourist attraction.
- Witpoort Watermill located in Stoffberg, Mpumalanga. This mill was to play a small but vital role in the Anglo-Boer/South African War because it kept the Boers fed for the duration of the war. British forces ordered the mill dynamited but fortunately only the coarse grinder was destroyed. After a drought in 1963 the water powered mill was changed to tractor power. This reduced milling time significantly. The mill was electrified in 1986 which speeded up the process even more. Today, the attractive, red roofed mill house with its steel overshot wheel is a fascinating historic addition to what is now a privately owned sporting estate and nature reserve.
- Dwars Rivier Watermill in Cederberg, Western Cape. It is a watermill powered by the Dwars Rivier in 1893. Cedar wood from the area was used in building the mill, which had a wooden overshot wheel of the compass type which was easy to transport and consisted of four cedar wood spokes mortised into the axle.
- La Cotte Watermill in Franschhoek, Western Cape. This watermill was built early in the 18th century. According to a photograph taken early in the 20th century, the mill had a wooden overshot wheel and two different gables - one rectilinear with a false chimney and the other hipped. It was thatched and built from a combination of stone and clay bricks. There is a shuttered opening under the hipped gable from which the miller could reach the hatch in the launder to open and close it and so regulate the speed of the water.
Now what is the particularity of the stamps ? You can not see it on the picture, but on the left side of each stamp, in addition to the name of the mill, the GPS coordinates of the mill are written ! The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a fully functional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Utilizing a constellation of at least 24 medium Earth orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, the system enables a GPS receiver to determine its location, speed and direction.

The idea from the South African post office was a person who owns a GPS receiver would be able to locate each mill and visit it while on holiday. I agree that this is not so useful, but it’s funny no ?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice articles, there are more articles on South Africa philately to found at