Header Title
Collectable artefacts from the Siege of Mafeking
Of all the Mafeking collectibles, it is perhaps the Postage Stamps that are best known. There were only sixteen separate stamps issued, three 'home-made' blue stamps and the rest the ordinary definitive issue on sale at the Post Office before the Siege, but overprinted with the words 'Mafeking Besieged'. They may be few in number, but the stamps are of sufficient rarity and with enough varieties (not so say forgeries!) to keep a specialist philatelist happy for a lifetime. Covers (envelopes) sent internally during the Siege and those belonging to mail going in or out of the besieged town are especially rare. Few books deal with the Mafeking issues in any detail, but a paperback publication, The Place of Stones - Mafeking/Mafikeng: The Siege Stamps and Banknotes by John Campbell does a credible job. The Queen's Stamps by Nicholas Courtney has some wonderful illustrations of the rarer pieces. King George V was known to be an avid collector of Mafeking issues and the Royal Collection has developed its collection since them. The Mafeking issues are occasionally put on public viewing and I was fortunate to see them at Chester in 2004. A serious collector however would need to make a study of past auctions of notable collections such as that of Sir Maxwell Joseph whose collection was sold in 1982. The auction catalogue was produced Sotherby's as a hard-cover book and this is now one of the best Mafeking stamp references.

The 'home-made' Siege Notes, though only five types in number, again have variations and are rare, especially the £1 denomination, of which only 683 were known to be issued. By far the best reference on the subject is Paper Currency of the Anglo-Boer War, by John Ineson, which also contains the only illustrated catalogue of Mafeking's Sowen Tickets. Sowen, a sort of porridge made from boiling oat husks for many hours, was the salvation of the garrison as it ran out of other foods. The oat husks came from horse fodder no longer required as most of the horses had already been eaten. Sowen was distributed in different parts of the town by different named officers using different coloured tickets.

The other major collectable ephemera of the Siege are the Programmes relating to the Sunday events. The various events were made possible because the religiously-minded Boers would not fight on Sundays. Baden-Powell, ever one to recognize the value of raising morale, whilst at the same time confounding the enemy, encouraged many forms of entertainment: Sports Days; Concerts; a Siege Exhibition; etc. Most of these had a thin card or paper programme and are very collectible. I am not aware of any published listing, though I can, if required, supply a summary of those I know to exist.

Medals: The Queen's South Africa Medal with Defence of Mafeking Bar was given to all those who bore arms (plus the Mafeking Cadets who did not), and there was another bar for those involved in the Relief. It is possible to find published medal rolls for each of the bars and the medals themselves sometimes come up at specialist auctions averaging £750+ for DoMs and £500+ for a RoMs. Again, auction catalogues are a useful source of information as a medal's description is often accompanied by a short biography of the awardee, especially where the medal is being sold by a member of the family.

Once the Siege was finally broken on May 17th 1900, the whole world wanted to show its joy and appreciation of the Commanding Officer of 'Gallant Little Mafeking'. Baden-Powell's image was placed on everything. Cast Iron artefacts include a stove, mangles, umbrella stands, pub tables and doorstops. There were hundreds of different varieties of Tableware, especially plates and mugs, and every conceivable type of knick-knack. There has never been a published study of the range of items made, though American collector Ken Kittleburger has drawn up an excellent illustrated catalogue of his extensive collection and those items he has seen. I have the listing and have added to it all those items I have seen in various private collections.

Shortly after the Siege Postcards were produced in Great Britain and South Africa linking Baden-Powell with Mafeking and showing various 'Siege Views'. These are all very collectible, especially those posted on Mafeking Day, or those having any message relating to the town or its Colonel Commanding. Again, I know of no published work which catalogues these items, though UK collectors John Ineson and Brian Billington maintain lists of their own collections and other items they have seen.

Queries and Valuations
This is not an exhaustive listing of Siege Collectibles, The relief of Mafeking gave the world a new but now rarely-used word, 'Maffiking', meaning to rejoice uproariously. The euphoria based on Mafeking's salvation was international, not just limited to the Empire, so profound that it has become ingrained in the psyche of the British nation over the succeeding years and there is hardly an area of collecting that has not been touched. If you have any query concerning a Mafeking Collectible or merely seek a valuation I should be glad to help. Please use this direct link to contact me.

Back to Scouting Milestones Index

© Colin Walker, 2006 / Last updated, 18th February 2007 and is v.0.3