Reopening of Iziko Bertram House marked by exhibit on 8th Definitive Series of South African stamps

  • Posted: Dec 8, 2010

Bertram House, situated at the top of Government Avenue in the centre of Cape Town, is set to reopen its doors to the public on 9 December 2010, after extensive renovations.

This house is the only remaining example of the English Georgian-style red brick houses that were once common in Cape Town. It was built c. 1839 by the English immigrant and notary, John Barker, who named it in memory of his first wife, Ann Bertram Findlay.

Subsequent owners and tenants of the property reflect the society of 19th century Cape Town. They include Captain Robert Granger, a merchant and owner of 5 ships after whom Granger Bay is named, as well as Tiberias Benjamin Kisch, the first Jewish professional photographer at the Cape.

In 1903 the South African College took ownership of the house for use as office space, after which it was transferred to the government of the Union of South Africa in 1930. It was eventually transferred to the South African Cultural History Museum (SACHM) in 1976, to be furnished as a house museum.

This was made possible by the efforts and generosity of Mrs Winifred Ann Lidderdale, who bequeathed a substantial collection of mainly porcelain and furniture to the SACHM in order to depict Bertram House as the home of a prosperous English family of the first part of the 19th century. The Museum was officially opened on 12 May 1984. Today Bertram House forms part of Iziko Museums and is the curatorial responsibility of the Social History Collections department.

The re-opening of Bertram House will be marked by a special philatelic occasion – an exhibition of the 8th Definitive Series of stamps, newly launched by South African Post Office (SAPO).

Iziko Art and Social History Collections have collaborated on this groundbreaking project since its inception seven years ago, when former Iziko director and current Council member, Marilyn Martin, suggested to the South African Post Office (SAPO) design committee that they consider beadwork as a theme for the next Definitive Series. This is a first for South Africa and indeed for the world. The ‘luminous beauty’ and spectacular aesthetic achievements of South African women will be flying all over the globe as ambassadors for our country and continent.

The beadwork pieces used in the design of the stamps – all from Iziko’s Collections – will be on show in Bertram house, together with the philatelic series, consisting of stamps, first day covers, airmail letter cards and a beautiful commemorative book designed by the SAPO and written by Iziko staff.

Bertram House enquiries can be directed to Wieke van Delen on 021 467 7203 or e-mail For enquiries regarding the 8th Definitive Series of stamps, Carol Kaufmann Bishop can be contacted on 021 467 4672 or e-mail

IMAGES: 1. Bertram House (Photo: Iziko Museums); 2. Beadwork ladybird, Iziko Collection, from 8th Definitive Series of stamps, South African Post Office

Text & Photographs © Iziko Museums.
Artworks & Artwork Reproductions © Featured Artists.
No photographs of artworks, images or design components incorporating artworks may be reproduced, sold or transmitted in any form without written permission from Iziko Museums.

blog comments powered by Disqus