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FIRST STAMPS Rhodesia overprinted.



1980, 100 cents = 1 dollar (Zimbabwe).

Following several attempts to achieve a compromise with the illegal government in Rhodesia, a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers at Lusaka and a conference in London during 1979, agreed the basic principles. As a result, new elections were held after the guerrilla armies had been disarmed. The British Army with a Field P0 in attendance supervised the transfer of power. Became independent on 18 April 1980.

Stamps inscribed 'Rhodesia' continued to be used until the new adhesivies were released on Independence Day.

Southern Rhodesia

FIRST STAMPS 1 April 1924.


1924, sterling.

Constituted a British Crown Colony with limited self-government on 1 October 1923. Became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1954-63. On separation changed name to Rhodesia (see below).

Used stamps of Federation (see Rhodesia and Nyasaland) in 1954-65.

Rhodesia (Zimbabwe-Rhodesia)

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 8 December 1965. Separate issues resumed 17 May 1965.


Until 1970, British.
From 17 February 1970, 100 cents = 1 dollar.

After the break-up of the Federation, the former colony of Southern Rhodesia adopted the name Rhodesia in October 1964. On 11 November 1965 it unilaterally declared its independence (UDI) which was not recognized by Britain, the UN or other major powers.

While these applied economic sanctions 'Patriotic Front' guerrillas waged war on the regime from Mozambique and Zambia. The ruling white minority allowed limited black suffrage; elections brought to power a multiracial conservative government (which adopted the name Zimbabwe- Rhodesia) but increased opposition from radical and Communist rebels.

Stamps of Rhodesia were not recognized as valid by Britain and some other countries in 1965-71 and mail thus franked was treated on arrival as unpaid (the stamps were frequently gratuitously spoilt into the bargain).

British South Africa Company (Rhodesia)

FIRST STAMPS (inscribed BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY only) 2 January 1892. Issues valid throughout territory administered by the Company.


(bearing also the word RHODESIA) 15 April 1909.

A line of communication to Mashonaland (Salisbury) was established from Bechuanaland in the 1880s and fortified in 1890. Raids by the Matabele led to punitive measures in Matabeleland, Bulawayo being occupied on 4 November 1893. Matabeleland and Mashonaland became Rhodesia in 1898 (and later Southern Rhodesia). Railway links from Vryburg to Bulawayo, Beira -Umtali-Salisbury and Salisbury-Gwelo-Bulawayo were all established in 1897-1902. Rhodes' expansion northward met Johnston's westward from Nyasaland with some rivalry, and the resultant administrative complications confuse the postal history also (see Northern Rhodesia).

Postal History
Livingstone reached Matabeleland via Bechuanaland on his travels northward in 1841-53, during which he exchanged mails with Britain by runner or casual caravan via Colesberg and the Admiral in charge at Simonstown. Later missionary runner mails (1875-6) from Matabeleland reached the regular post at Linokana or Zeersut in Transvaal; but by 1880 a missionary postmaster at Gubulawayo was operating a service via Shoshong, which in August 1888 was made official under Rev. J.S. Moffat via Tati (Bechuanaland Protectorate) to Mafeking (British Bechuanaland). A horse post was set up in 1890 to Mashonaland, branching at Palachwe via Tuli to Salisbury. The occupation of Bulawayo brought a direct link to Salisbury. The route via Beira to the outside world began on 2 January 1892 and was shortened in 1898 by the arrival at Umtali of the railway from Beira.

Stamps of British Bechuanaland were used from British South Africa Company territory in 1888-92 (cancellations include GUBULAWAYO BECHUANALAND).

'Double Heads' portraying King George V and Queen Mary, which were current in 1910-13, were printed by Waterlows in colours which have rarely been equalled for choice. They were followed by the 'Admirals' in similarly well-contrasted shades. Earlier and some later issues were made by Bradbury, Wilkinson and Perkins, Bacon; but Rhodesia is unusual among British colonies in that - with a single exception (the Coronation 2s 6d of 1953) - it never had a stamp printed by De La Rue.

In 1924 remainders of issues 1892-1910 (2.7 million in all) were cancelled with back-dated genuine postmarks and sold to the stamp trade. The places and dates used are known and recorded.

Rhodesias 1909 (incl. Bechuanalands & Mozambique)
Click map for larger view

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