This J.C. Wilson British Ensign Type II patriotic cover bears a C.G.H. one penny postage stamp, as it was not addressed to Canada. Letters to Postal Union countries were charged the soldiers’ privileged rate of one penny per ounce (2¢ Canadian postage), hence the requirement for postage.
This British Ensign Type II cover was mailed from O’Okiep in N.W. Namaqualand, a mining town in N.W. Cape Colony, O’Okiep was the oldest mining town in South Africa, where copper was first discovered and mined in 1855. In 1862, Phillips and King, who started the mining activities in Namaqualand in 1852, was taken over by a London-based company known as The Cape Copper Company. O’Okiep was for many years the centre of the Namaqualand copper fields, which was known at the turn of the century as the richest copper mining area in the world. O’Okiep’s importance in the Boer War rose during the last phase of the war when it was besieged in May of 1902 by the Boer commandos seeking to seize the copper fields.
The cover bears a July 9, 1900 O’Okiep cancellation on the Cape of Good Hope one penny stamp, and is sent to Mr. John Mills, Woodbine Cottage, Near Perranwell Station R.S.G., Cornwall, England. It bears a Perranwell Station cancellation dated August 5, 1900 on the reverse. This variation, with a plain back shown below, was identified by Gates as E-1.
Kenneth Rowe illustrates a copy of an Old Glory & The Maine cover mailed from O’Okiep to the same destination several weeks later in his publication The Postal History of the Canadian Contingents, Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902. The Canadian soldier who had sent this letter is not identified, but it would appear he was fond of J.C. Wilson patriotic envelopes, and had brought at least three different designs with him for use while stationed overseas. A second British Ensign Type II cover from the same sender to the same destination dated August 2, 1900 is also known, as is a third copy, also from the same sender, but with a smudged date, auctioned in Corbitt’s auction on May 27, 2010. The same sender also mailed an Anglo-Saxon cover dated June 17, 1900 to the same destination.
A copy of a British Ensign Type II cover mailed to England with an FPO cancellation was also sold in an Argyll Etkin auction in September 2007.