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Comment here on Robert Hill's Verneukpan Skeleton Cancellers Display.

This is the most complete collection of Verneukpan covers that has been assembled to date. It includes the only known example of the first date stamp, the first day of the second, and probably the first and certainly the last day of the third skeleton date stamp. The inclusion of Grey's letter on telegram form makes this all the more remarkable. The only thing that is missing is Grey's log-book or "record book". Will we ever see it? I am not entirely sure about the cover supposedly signed by Penny and stamped Verneukpan on the 23rd and Brandvlei on the 25th. Why? I would hope that it is genuine but if it is not it adds an intriguing and difficult to resolve conversation piece to what is without doubt a top quality and unrivalled Verneukpan display with lovely associated items of Campbell ephemera. Awesome!

It is very gratifying that my late father, Derek Watts' items relating to the Verneuk Pan Disaster are to be found in this article....They are the registered envelope number 606 addressed to Mr Peers together with the Telegraph Form completed and signed by the postmaster, Mr Grey.

I have been contacted by Roddy Sparks who writes to Robert Hill c/o the Editor of the SAPC website:

Hi Robert,

I am a life long philatelist whose main interest is postal history of the Anglo Boer War, as well as other areas of Southern Africa philately, particularly Natal. I enjoyed your exhibit of Verneuk Pan very much – it an fascinating collection.

I have just one example of the relief canceller, which I thought you might like to add to your records. I am attaching a scan of front and back so I will not describe it here

I also have a travelling clock which was a gift from Malcolm Campbell to “GBW” in 1929, which I thought you might find interesting. I have attached photos for your perusal. I was wondering whether you know who GBW is?

Kind regards

Roddy Sparks

CAPTION TOP:  PC front to Cape Town cancelled VERNEUK PAN VPN 'AP 20 ..' (year missing, presumably worn away.)

CAPTION MIDDLE: PC reverse partially backstamped BRANDVLEI '22 APR 29. Message reads "20th/4/29. Dear Gill,
It was a magnificent spectacle when Captain Campbell hurtled through space like a meteor. D Friedmann." 

TRAVELLING CLOCK. Monogrammed "G.B.W. from M.C. 1929"
The inscription reads: "In appreciation from Captain Malcolm Campbell".

Uploaded files:
  • Roddy-Sparks-PC-Front.jpg
  • Roddy-Sparks-PC-Back.jpg
  • Roddy-Sparks-Clock.jpg


Many thanks for your fascinating email with images.

I apologise for taking so long to get back to you. I have now had a chance to talk to Bob (Robert Hill) on the phone who is hugely pleased to learn that you have contacted him. Sadly, Bob has no email connection so this reply is from me following my reading your email out to him over the phone and discussing the issues with him. Fortunately, I have his entire Verneukpan collection here to reference it.

Bob is delighted to know that you have contributed a copy of your VPN postcard. The message on the back is informative and exactly the sort of thing one wants in a Campbell / Verneukpan postcard. Clearly, it was sent at the time of the speed trials in the run-up to the attempt to break the record on the 25th. It is an important cover in the scheme of things, going as it is to someone (H.H. Gill) c/o Reuters in Cape Town. Both the sender and receiver are unknown to us.

However, we think we know who the travelling clock was given to. We don't know for certain but think it likely that this was a gift from Campbell to his agent in Cape Town, a Mr Waters, presumably on his departure from SA back to the UK for services rendered. Waters acted as Campbell's Agent, Private Secretary, Assistant, etc. Your find means that now, for the first time, we can put intials to his name. Thank you.

Many thanks for contributing your cover to the SAPC. Such contributions are our lifeblood.