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Orange Free State
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Orange Free State

The Orange Free State is the historical precursor to the present day Free State, a province of the Republic of South Africa.

The current province, extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, was established as a free state by Boers after their Voortrek and annexed by Britain in 1848. The British recognized the independence of the Orange Free State on February 17, 1854 and the county officially became independent on February 23, 1854, with the signing of the Contract of Bloemfontein. Although the "Oranje Vrystaat" (as it is known in Afrikaans) developed into a politically and economically successful republic, it experienced chronic conflict with Britain until annexed as the Orange River Colony in 1900 during the second Anglo-Boer War. It joined the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Postage stamps

The republic began to issue postage stamps in 1868, and continued until 1897. The sole design used was an orange tree, with the inscription "Oranje Vrij Staat" in the margin. The stamps were typographed by De La Rue and Company, and came in denominations from one penny to five shillings, in various colors. Periodic shortages forced the use of overprints, in 1877, 1881, 1882, 1888, 1890, 1892, 1896, and 1897. The stamps of the republic are generally common today, but some of the overprints are scarce and are in the US$200 range. Many kinds of overprint errors are known (inverted, double, etc), and some of them command high prices.

Flag

The national flag of the Orange Free State was adopted in 1856. The OFS national flag contained alternating horizontal orange and white stripes (3 orange and 4 white with the white stripes on the outside) with a version of the Dutch flag (used initially at Graaff Reinett and Swellendam in 1795) featured in the canton.

The former national flag of South Africa (from 1927 - 1994) had, as a feature contained within its central white bar, a vertically hanging flag of the Orange Free State.