The Word of God
The most valuable stamp of South Africa’s Republican period
A few years ago, we purchased an exceptionally rare entire sheet of 25 stamps from South Africa.
A single stamp from this sheet is considered iconic in South African philately…
An entire sheet moves to legendary philatelic status.
It was never meant to be issued to the public due to religious objections.
The South African Postal Authorities withdrew the stamp before it was issued.
A few escaped.
This is the first time we have promoted it for sale.
This stamp sheet is sought after the world over and here’s why:
- It is the premier modern South African stamp to own in the last 50 years
- It was never meant to be issued
- The religious controversy over its issue makes it highly collectible
- The entire sheet of 25 of this most famous stamp has legendary philatelic status
- Only 1,275 stamps escaped destruction in 1987. The entire intact sheet we have is VERY rare
- The sheet is in perfect mint condition (front and back)
In short, it is a real gem and from a terrific country to collect.
The Stamp Sheet that escaped a certain death
It is a miracle this sheet of stamps survived and is still with us today:
1987 40c (19 Nov) 'The Word of God' in Greek and Hebrew, complete sheet of 25 (5x5) with control numbers in upper right corner, unmounted original gum.
The unissued stamp was withdrawn before issue because of religious objections, although examples are known to have been sold to the public at some smaller post offices.
The story behind the stamp
In 1987, South Africa was in a state of national emergency with township uprisings, shootings, bombings and national strikes.
Despite all that, the issue of a new stamp on November 19, 1987 managed to make the news.
The South Africa Postal Authorities had intended to issue a four-stamp set to commemorate the Bible Society of South Africa.
However, the 40c stamp showed the name of God in Hebrew and in Greek on a blue background.
The Jewish community protested that the stamps were a serious transgression of Judaic law, which says that God’s name may appear only in the Torah and prayer books.
No offence had been intended by the Postal Authorities...
They quickly recalled the 40c stamps from the Post Offices across South Africa.
The stamps were prepared to be destroyed in the interests of religious harmony. However, they were informed this was equally unacceptable to the Jewish community and were told that the stamps should be buried.
The Postal Authorities decided that was a step too far and the stamps were duly destroyed. Most of them anyway…
Despite the Post Offices being instructed to withdraw the stamps, it is believed that 51 sheets of 25 stamps (1,275) slipped through the net.
It is understood that some of the smaller Post Offices were running short of 40c stamps and opened their parcels before the official release date. They were sold over the counter with many being used for postage.
The withdrawn “Word of God” stamp is very collectible because of its rarity and the controversy it caused. It is popular with both collectors of religion on stamps and Judaica collectors.
A sound investment
The current catalogue price for a single stamp is 9,000 South African Rand. This equates to approximately £540 ($735).
The total value of the 25 stamps in the sheet is therefore £13,500 ($18,375). This is based on the break-up value of the sheet.
Normally, you would expect to pay a premium for an entire sheet of stamps, especially in perfect mint condition. As such, the market value could be considered significantly more than the catalogue value of £13,500.
You can purchase the sheet of 25 “Word of God” stamps I have today for just £9,750 ($13,270).
In other words, at a discount of 28% to the current catalogue value. And, that’s before adding any premium for an entire intact sheet in perfect mint condition.
Up 20% in two years
Two years ago, the catalogue price for a single stamp was 7,500 South African Rand (approximately £450).
The growth in value of 20% suggests a strong market in recent years. This is not a surprise to me and I believe there is good cause to expect future market growth for rare stamps from South Africa.
Over the last decade many African nations have enjoyed the fastest growing economies in the world. Admittedly, the percentage growth is flattering in some countries primarily because of the very low base level they came from.
The most interesting dynamic, I think, is the impact of the large increase in foreign investment in recent years. American and Chinese investors have invested heavily into textile plants in Africa, increasing the average wage for African citizens.
The result is an increase in the emerging African middle class combined with improved education. It is widely accepted that wealthy, well educated people are the main demographic of stamp collectors.
African stamps could therefore follow a similar pattern to the explosive growth in stamp prices from China and India in the past decade.
The final important, but easily missed, dynamic is the impact of the managers from Europe and Asia that have lived in Africa in recent years to build businesses and plants.
It is often the case that, when these foreign business people go back home, some will choose to collect stamps from the nations they have lived in. Certainly, from my experience, expatriate collectors have always been a significant element in philately.
Don’t miss out
- A classic modern rarity from the emerging economy of South Africa
- In perfect mint condition
- At a significant discount to current market value
Call me immediately on +44(0)1534 639998.
Or email me today at email@example.com.
Thank you for reading and happy collecting.
CEO, Just Collecting
PS. If the featured sheet of stamps is outside of your budget, I would recommend the following very reasonably priced alternative:
South Africa Official. 1929-31 6d green and orange, Pretoria typo printing with type O2 overprint, lower right corner block of 8 (2x4) from 1930 printing, showing stop after 'OFFISIEEL' on R18/12 (English) and R19/12 (Afrikaans), fresh original gum. Mostly unmounted, including lower variety pair. A desirable positional piece. Official. SG O9/a/b.
Price: £225 ($303)
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