Greetings from Melbourne!

We were in Melbourne for the FIAP International Stamp Exhibition and now we can’t wait to get home to share our amazing new material with you. Keep an eye on Filat AG’s new items page for latest uploads!

Our section of the British Commonwealth Superbooth!

De La Rue – The Family Business

Innovation for the future – a perfect motto for a company that keeps expanding the horizon of imagination.  From inventing the envelope folding machine in 1846 to winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2013 for creating the banknote security thread with a clear window in the banknote, including the papermaking process, De La Rue has been a name synonymous with innovation over many, many years.

Thomas was the ambitious and innovative founder of the De La Rue family partnership which started as a printer, stationer and fancy goods manufacturer. He was behind many of the initial ideas of the company, one of them being the production of playing cards and their printing technique of electro typing on enamelled paper. De La Rue became a family business when Thomas’ brother, Paul, joined and assisted with the sale of playing cards to the Russian market. Later Thomas’ sons, Warren and William, also joined the family business.

Warren de la Rue followed in his father’s footsteps with regards to invention and innovation. He invented the first envelope folding machine, which was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in Crystal Palace, London. This machine could produce 2,700 envelopes in one hour.

In 1853, the company was contracted to print adhesive fiscal stamps for the British Board of Inland Revenue. Not only were these the first stamps to be surface printed, they were also the first perforated stamps to be issued. Two years later, De La Rue began printing the four penny Carmine postage stamp using this surface printing method.




The family partnership eventually converted into a private company and later into a public ownership company with the departure of the De La Rues.

De La Rue was responsible for the convenience of the world’s first through-the-wall money machine in 1967. Today they are world-renowned for the paper production, the security threads and windows of many currencies.

For a full list of De La Rue items available on Filat AG’s online store, please click here.

Australia – The Southern Land

The American Revolutionary War is a pivotal part of history. Without the fight for American independence from Great Britain there may not have been a need for new land discoveries. The British may not have had a problem with over-crowding in their prisons. Therefore the British would not have had to look for alternatives for their prisoners. However, The American Revolution did take place and this did lead to a problem of over-crowding in British prisons, for which a suitable solution had to be found. This solution became Australia.

In 1770, Captain James Cook chartered and claimed the solution to Britain’s problem. The east coast of a southern land, far away from Great Britain, isolated from the rest of the world was perfect for a penal colony. Cook named this newly mapped coast New South Wales. So began the first European settlement in Australia, with the arrival of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships in Botany Bay on January 20th 1788.

Many of the prisoners abolished to these penal colonies were sentenced for petty theft and some were sentenced because of political reasons. One such criminal, Isaac Nichols, accused of theft, was transported on the Third Fleet, Admiral Barrington, to New South Wales. After his seven-year sentence was complete, he chose to stay on in the colony. Isaac Nichols became a highly successful businessman, increasing his landholdings and ship trade.

The frenzied scramble for mail on the arriving ships at the dock created a need for a more organised method of sorting mail on its arrival. Thus, on the 25th April 1809 Nichols was entrusted with the job of receiving and organising mail arriving by ship. He would pick up the mail, take it to his house in lower George Street and post a list with all the mail recipients outside his house.

The first organized postal services on the southern land had begun.

For all items from New South Wales and other Australian States visit

One such amazing item is a newspaper wrapper sent from the Cape and redirected to THREE States in Australia!

Cape cover redirected to Three Australia States

Cape newspaper wrapper redirected to Three Australian States

Cape QV 1d newspaper wrapper initially addressed to Hobart, Tasmania; from thence to Melbourne; from thence to South Australia; from thence to New Zealand. For full description visit Filat AG’s online store.

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash – The First South African Airmail Disaster

History of the Pass

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash occurred many years after the pass was built. During the early 1800s, travellers had to brave a kloof that was so steep and rocky that it was easier and safer for them to disassemble their wagons and take them up piece-by-piece. More than three hundred years later it is still possible to see the grooves in the rocks where some of the wagons were dragged over the rocks. In 1958 these ruts were declared a South African national monument.

A kloof that was known as Gantouw (Elands Pass) by the Khoi people – likely because of the sure-footed Eland that would traverse it in search of greener pastures, came to be known as the “Hottentots Holland Kloof Pass” by the Dutch and British settlers at the Cape as they built a rough pass following the Gantouw route. By 1821, 4 500 ox-wagons would cross this pass every year. The route was still a challenge for the ox-wagons and many of them would get damaged on this route.

It was not until Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1828 to 1833, had the foresight that a better road needed to be built in order for the growth of the Cape Colony to expand.

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash: The First South African Airmail Disaster

The Surveyor General, C C Michell, advised that instead of trying to fix the old Kloof they could build an entirely new road with an easier gradient to the south of the old kloof. After many unforeseen problems along the way, the new road was built. Sir Lowry’s Pass was officially opened on 6th July 1830.

One hundred and one years later, on unlucky Friday 13th 1931, a Puss Moth aircraft with a pilot, two passengers and commercial mail experienced severe turbulence over Sir Lowry’s Pass and fatally crashed due to structural failure of the wings. Very few mail items were recovered. This was the first airmail disaster in South Africa and is now known as the Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash.

Filat AG has three of these rare crash covers on offer. The first is one of two registered covers on record and was sent from Durban to Cape Town:

sir lowry's pass crash registered crash mail from Durban to Cape Town

Registered crash mail from Durban to Cape Town.

The second item from the Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash is addressed from Grahamstown to England with accompanying roneoed notelet showing typing error “1913” for “1931” corrected in pencil:

sir lowry's pass crash envelope address panel from Grahamstown to England

Envelope address panel from Grahamstown to England

The final item was addressed from Durban to England (presumably), accompanied by roneoed notelet and further correspondence between the owner of the recovered letter and LA Wyndham:

sir lowry's pass crash cover from Durban to England

Envelope from Durban (cds 12 NOV 31) to (presumably) England

To view further images for this item click here.

Boer War: Miracle Delivery of Soldier’s Letter & His Long Awaited Reply

The gentleman’s war that turned guerrilla lasted an unanticipated two years, seven months and twenty days. A lengthy war where the harsh conditions were nigh impossible to live in, but aided in the recovery of many of the 22,000 troops that were treated for wounds sustained in the Boer War.

The opportunity for medical practices to progress was great. The treating of antisepsis, using anaesthesia, research in bacteriology and testing the newly developed X-ray technology were among the few progressions that took place. The ground was uncontaminated and was nearly bacteria-free. Bacteriological examinations proved that all pyogenic organisms – which cause pus and thereby infections – were only found close to dwellings and not found in the veld. This reduced wound infections and coupled with the very little rain and hot sun helped the wounded soldiers to heal. However, more than half of the British casualties in the Boer War were not by enemy action, but rather caused by illness, especially typhoid fever.

“Wars pass, but the human soul endures; the interest is not so much in the war as in the human experience behind it.” – Jan Smuts

The British soldiers saw a great defeat at the Battle of Colenso most likely due to the shortage of competent staff and the lack of geographical knowledge of the area. This battle was the third and final of three devastating defeats for the British. This third battle included the 2nd Devonshire Regiment which had arrived at the Cape and sent on to Durban. Five officers and sixty men of this regiment were wounded in this battle.

re-directed boer war soldier's letter from england to south africa


A fascinating cover from England shows the tenacity the military and the Post Office Officials had to deliver a letter addressed to a wounded soldier, a son, in a military hospital. It took much effort as seen by the destination cancellations to find this young man.  His family received the long awaited reply from him more than a month later. Both covers are available on