In 1929 the first labels were
introduced to be sold in the period leading up to Christmas to primarily
raise funds for Children’s Tuberculosis Sanatoria. This practice became
common in a number of different countries across the world and it is
possible to form interesting collections of the so-called “Christmas Labels”
or “Anti-TB labels.”
The interest for the South Africa collector and philatelist comes from the
fact that from 1932 the labels were printed using the same processes as the
postage stamps by the Government printer, often on the same watermarked
paper as the stamps. Hence there is much to keep the collector of South
Africa Christmas labels entertained. It is possible to find labels from
sheets or booklet panes, tete-beche blocks from the manufacture of the
booklet panes, sheet number blocks, complete booklets in a range of
different face values, as well as looking out for the labels tied to covers
(tied means that a portion of the postmark is found on the label, thus
“tying” the label to the envelope).
The first booklets were issued in 1934, in 6d with one pane of six labels
and 1s with two panes of six formats. In later years booklets of 2s6d, 5s &
10s face values were introduced. The early pre WWII booklets are scarce and
difficult to find complete and in nice condition. The 6d and 1s booklets
are more common in the post WWII period. The higher value 5s & 10s booklets
are much less common.
Finding the earliest labels used on cover can be a challenge. Always look
for labels to be tied to covers, anyone can add a label to a mundane cover
years later in order to boost its appeal and value.
As ever, I would guide anybody who wishes to know more to look in the South
Africa Handbooks, however the section on Christmas labels had been dropped
from the 1986 version. The most information is found in the 1952 edition.
It does not contain information on what face values of booklets were issued
though. I am working on obtaining a more complete listing.