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The Postcards



To find out more back ground information or to access a summary guide to the postcard matter contained within this web site select from the listed topics below; 

General Information

Like many early picture postcards those representing images of Southern Africa's mining industry can often offer fascinating and in some cases unique glimpses of the region's industrial past. As such they can be viewed as important sources of historical information. Like any other documents or artifacts of the past, there are some cards that are more valuable than others in terms of the information they present. Postcards can offer various types of historical information. It is not necessarily just the images they present but also their written messages and postmarks. Given such an array of information we find that it isn't just the historian who can benefit from the information, graphic or otherwise found on them. Postcards can also be a valuable resource for many genealogists allowing them to learn more about the places and times of their forebears and in some instances even present pictures of their ancestors. 

Postcard Dating

Knowing the dates associated with a postcard can make their historical content more useful. Note the use of the plural "dates" as there are several dates associated with any given picture postcard. Most important of these dates is that when the card's image, be it a drawing or a photograph, was created. There is also a date associated with the card's manufacture, that is the date when it was printed. Then there is the date it was purchased, although there is rarely direct evidence for this. The date the card was used (if in deed it was used), can generally be assumed to be soon after the date of purchase, though there are exceptions.

The first and most obvious way of dating a postcard is to use the postmark date. This is applicable  as long as the card has been postally used and its postmark legible. In most cases this will give a good indication of when the card was made, but not necessarily of when the original photograph or image produced. Although in a few cases the cards may have been used and postmarked years after their manufacture. Generally speaking on many of the more popular views many postcard manufacturers often re-used the same photographs over and over again. On some cards, in the UK at least, it has even been known for the publishers to occasionally modifying an earlier postcard negative by adding people and features in preparation for re-issue. 

In the absence of any other evidence the following may be be of use in ascertaining a postcard's age or that of the content of its image ;

  1. Manufacturer's serial number or issue code number (but only where corresponding records exist).
  2. Content of the card's view, such as vehicles or the distinctive period cloths and hats worn.
  3. Style of the card's reverse compared to other cards with known dates.
  4. Place of manufacturer. This can be particularly useful for pre-1914 postcards, many of which were printed in Germany.
  5. Content of message, if there is one.
  6. Type and quality of manufacture.
  7. Type and face value of postage stamps used.

With regards to item No.3 above, a further point to be considered is whether the card has a divided or un-divided back. A divided back being one where a central vertical line separates the card's reverse into two halves. The right hand side being that designated for the recipients address while the left hand side was reserved for the sender's message. The use of cards with divided backs did not appear in the UK until after 1902. It may be assumed that a similar date, or at least one shortly afterwards, also applies to similar cards found in South Africa.

Postcard Issuers & Publishers


Index Of Postcard Issuing Locations & Postcard Subjects Matter

Alphabetical Listing of Mines & Diggings Location (Note 2) Mineral Mined or Quarried Click links below to view the appropriate sets of postcards & subject matter
Barkley West Diggings Barkley West, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Alluvial)
De Beers Mine Kimberley, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Du Toits Pan Mine Du Toits Pan Mine Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Belfast Colliery Belfast, Transvaal Coal
Bloemhof Diggings Bloemhof, South-west Transvaal Diamonds (Alluvial)
Bultfontein Mine Kimberley, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Christiana Diggings Christiana, South-west Transvaal Diamonds (Alluvial)
Clydesdale Collieries Springs, Witwatersrand East/Transvaal Coal
Cornelia Colliery Vereeninging, Transvaal Coal
Cyphergat Colliery Molteno, Eastern Cape Province Coal
Durban Navigation Collieries Dannhauser, Natal Coal
Dundee Colliery Dundee, Natal Coal
Elizabeth Bay Diggings Sperrgebiet, Lüderitz Province, SWA Diamonds (Alluvial)
Great Eastern Colliery Springs, Witwatersrand East/Transvaal Coal
Impala Platinum Rustenburg, North West Transvaal Platinum Group Metals
Jagersfontein Mine Jagersfontein, Orange Free State Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Khan Mine Arandis, Swakopmund District, SWA Copper Ore
Kimberly Mine  Kimberley, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Kimberly District (General)  Kimberley, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
 Koffyfontein Mine Koffyfontein, Orange Free State Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Kolmanskop Diggings Sperrgebiet, Lüderitz Province, SWA Diamonds (Alluvial)
La Fortuna Mine Barberton, Eastern Transvaal Hard Rock Gold Ore
Lichtenburg Diggings Lichtenburg, Western Transvaal Diamonds (Alluvial)
Lüderitz Bay Diggings  Sperrgebiet, Lüderitz District, SWA Diamonds (Alluvial)
Madibi Mine Mafeking, Northern Cape Province Hard Rock Gold Ore
Messina Mine Messina, Northern Transvaal Copper Ore
Middleburg Colliery Middleburg, Eastern Transvaal Coal
Moodies Diggings Barberton, Eastern Transvaal Alluvial Gold
Mosesberg Diggings Barkley West, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Alluvial)
Otavi Mine Otavi, Grootfontein District, SWA Copper Ore
Pilgrims Rest Diggings Pilgrims Rest, Eastern Transvaal Alluvial & Hard Rock Gold
Pomona Diggings Sperrgebiet, Lüderitz District, SWA Diamonds (Alluvial)
Port Nolloth Ore Terminal Port Nolloth, Northern Cape Province Copper Ore
Premier Colliery Delmas, Transvaal Coal
Premier Mine  (Note 1) Cullinan, Transvaal Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
The Sperrgebiet (General) Sperrgebiet, Lüderitz District, SWA Diamonds (Alluvial)
Tsumeb Mine Tsumeb, Tsumeb District, SWA Copper, Lead & Zinc Ores
Sheba Mine Barberton, Eastern Transvaal Hard Rock Gold Ore
Vaal River Diggings Barkley West, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Alluvial)
Wesselton Mine (Note 1) Kimberley, Northern Cape Province Diamonds (Kimberlitic)
Witbank Collieries Witbank, Eastern Transvaal Coal
Witwatersrand (General)

(Note 3)

Johannesburg Area, Transvaal Hard Rock Gold Ore
  • The African miners 

  • The Chinese miners 

  • The European & Boer miners 

  • General mining panoramas

  • General ore processing plant views

  • Miners Strikes


1) Wesselton Mine was also known in its earlier years as the Premier Diamond Mines.

2) Unless stated otherwise (i.e. SWA) all locations are in South Africa.

3) Individual mines on the Witwatersrand are all listed separately.