Envelope that made 6,000-mile journey from South Africa to Hartlepool during the Boer War part of £325k collection

FIRST CLASS: The envelope addressed to Hartlepool
FIRST CLASS: The envelope addressed to Hartlepool

NEVER mind the price of a first-class stamp going up to 62p next month.

Have you heard instead about the envelope worth £480?

Not that it is any ordinary envelope.

It was sent during the Siege of Mafeking, during the Boer War in 1900, and took 58 days to make the tortuous 6,000-mile journey from South Africa to Hartlepool.

The envelope has now been sold as part of a collection of rare Boer War postal memorabilia valued at £325,625 this week at a London auction.

The Mail is now hoping readers can help fill in the blanks surrounding its Hartlepool connections.

The letter itself did not form part of the collection and so mystery surrounds the identity of its writer.

Were they a Hartlepool soldier stationed in Mafeking as part of the famous defence of the town from thousands of surrounding Boer troops?

What we do know is that the letter was sent to Mr JE Young of 94 High Street, Hartlepool, on March 29, 1900.

Census details reveal he was a John Edward Peart Young, a timber merchant’s clerk in his early 20s who lived with his parents, ironmonger James Young and Frances, and sister Edith.

By 1911 the family had moved to 65 Northgate Street, Hartlepool.

The collection was owned by the late Harry Birkhead, who up until his death last year was the life president of the Philatelic Federation of South Africa.

According to auctioneer Spink, which conducted this week’s sale in Bloomsbury: “He formed the finest and most comprehensive collection of mail relating to the sieges of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and the local or ‘town’ stamp issues of the war ever brought together.”

The new owner’s details have still to be revealed.

The Siege of Mafeking started on October 13,1899, and lasted for 217 days until May 17,1900.

It made British military commander Robert Baden-Powell, who went on to found the Scouts movement, a national hero back home in Britain.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, his forces were able to defeat the 8,000 Boer troop in what became known as the Relief of Mafeking.

• Can you shed any more light on the Young family or who may have sent the letter?

Contact Gavin Ledwith at the Mail on (01429) 239383 or email him at gavin.ledwith@jpress.co.uk