ILLUSTRATED ENVELOPE to DURBAN, NATAL SOUTH AFRICA
At first glance one might think that this was sent as a First Day cover for the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of New South Wales 3d blue stamp (part of a set of 3, the others being the 2d red and 9d purple). The stamp shows Captain Phillip at Sydney Cove 1788 and the stamp is inscribed with two years, 1788 and 1938, in the top left and right hand corners, respectively. The set was issued on 01 OCT 1937, whereas the stamp is postmarked 21 FE 38, and the event is celebrated yearly as Australia Day on the 26 January. All this produces a degree of date confusion, but the cover is certainly not a F.D.C. (Figure 1).
The two illustrations on the front of the cover are dated 1788 and 1938, and they show the changes in travel to and from Australia, over the 150 years. The cover is addressed to Berea, Durban, Natal and the postal rate in 1938 would have been only 2d per ounce by ship to a British Empire country. The stamp is postmarked GLADSTONE/( — ) AUSTR ,with the portion in parentheses not legible. There are four States in Australia with a town named Gladstone (South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania) but this postmark format is only seen in 'STH AUSTR'. Gladstone, South Australia is 219 km directly north of Adelaide, and has a population of ca.660. The town is in a mixed farming district (sheep, dairy and beef) on what was formerly Nukunu Aboriginal land, and it was named after a former British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898).
The reverse has no postmarks, but it has additional illustrations of four capital cities, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Adelaide Colonel W. Light's Statue (Surveyor General, South Australia, 1786-1839) plus scenes of Brisbane and Melbourne. Perhaps it was lack of space that did not allow for Hobart and Perth (Figure 2).
Durban is in the Natal Coast region and is the largest and busiest port of South Africa, as well as being the largest city of what was previously called the Natal Province. The projected population of Durban for 1999 was 2.69 million, which amounted to 28% of the Natal Province's total of almost 9 million. The map shows the position of Durban (as a red star) on the east coast of South Africa. Was this illustrated cover designed for this set of stamps?