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Bechuanaland Protectorate

The Bechuanaland Protectorate was a protectorate established in 1884 by Great Britain in the area of what is now Botswana. The British government originally expected to turn over administration of the protectorate to Rhodesia or South Africa, but Tswana opposition left the protectorate a Crown Colony until it became independent as Botswana in 1966.

The protectorate was administered from Mafeking (now Mafikeng), which had been annexed to Cape Colony in 1885, creating a unique situation of the capital of the territory being located outside of it.

The eastern part of the colony was originally claimed by Matabeleland, and in 1887 Samuel Edwards (working for Cecil Rhodes) obtained a mining concession.

In 1891 administration of the protectorate was given to the High Commissioner for South Africa; in 1895 the British South Africa Company attempted to acquire the area, but three Tswana chiefs visited London to protest and were successful in fending off the BSAC. Later attempts to develop also had little effect.

Bechuanaland Governors

Postage stamps

The first postage stamps were produced in 1888 by overprinting stamps of Bechuanaland (some overprints of British stamps and some issued specifically for the colony) with "Protectorate". In 1889 a 1/2-penny stamp of Cape of Good Hope was overprinted "Bechuanaland / Protectorate.".

From 1897 to 1925 more British stamps were overprinted using the protectorate's name in various layouts. In 1910 a 6-pence stamp of Transvaal was also overprinted; although it was intended for fiscal use, postal uses are known.

The protectorate's first inscribed stamps appeared in a definitive series of 1932. The 12 values, ranging from 1/2d to 10sh, all used the same design; a group of cattle next to a baobab tree, surmounted by a portrait for King George V. The usual Silver Jubilee and Coronation issues appeared in 1935 and 1937, with King George VI replacing his father in a similarly-designed series of 1938.

The protectorate's Peace issue of 1945 was produced by overprinting "Bechuanaland" on South Africa's Peace stamps. Stamps were issued for the Royal Visit in 1947, and for the usual omnibus sets of the period. Queen Elizabeth II replaced her father in a definitive series of 1955, the rest of the design matching the previous definitives.

Three stamps in 1960 commemorated the 75th anniversary of the protectorate, then in 1961 Bechuanaland converted to the South African rand, necessitating surcharges on the existing definitives in February, followed by a new definitive series in October that was mostly pictures of birds, with some showing people at work.

Standard Commonwealth omnibus issues appeared up until independence, along with a 1 June 1966 issue commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Bechuanaland Pioneers and Gunners.