A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rhodesia (British South Africa Company)

1891 Scott 5 4p red brown & black "Coat of Arms"
Quick History
"Rhodesia", commonly called by the white settlers in the 1890s after Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the British South Africa Company (BSAC), were lands in southern Africa bisected by the Zambezi River. The Company, which governed and administered the lands by Royal Charter from 1889-1923, named the territory north of the Zambezi "Northern Rhodesia", and the lands south of the Zambezi "Southern Rhodesia".

1911 Encylopaedia Britannia Map of Rhodesia
The Zambezi River bisects the lands into
 Northern Rhodesia (North Western & North Eastern) & Southern Rhodesia
The capital was Salisbury, and the population was 1,700,000 in 1921.

The stamps issued throughout 1890-1923 are all inscribed "British South Africa Company". Beginning in 1909, the stamps are also either overprinted or inscribed "Rhodesia".

Cecil Rhodes as Colossus striding Africa from Cairo to the Cape
The BSAC were expecting that the gold fields of Mashonaland would provide the investor return, but that didn't pan out (pun intended ;-). But the BSAC did build railroads ( Beira, Mashonaland, Rhodesia lines), and actually retained mineral rights until 1964 in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

In 1923, the BSAC no longer administered the territories, and Southern Rhodesia (1924-1964) became a crown colony. (To confuse things, it was known as "Rhodesia" from 1965-1979.) With independence in 1980, it became Zimbabwe.

Northern Rhodesia became a British Protectorate from 1924-1964. With independence in 1964, the name was changed to Zambia.

(My blog post for Northern Rhodesia has more maps and explanation of these turbulent times. )

1896 Scott 37 4sh red & blue/green "Coat of Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Rhodesia 1890-1923, 143 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 12 or 8% are CV <$1-$1+. Raising the bar to CV $4+ yields 44 or 31% coverage. Clearly, the CV for this British colony is a bit high, but a representative selection is available for a modest budget increase.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12  Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
1890 Scott 2 1p black "Coat of Arms"
Sporting the British South Africa Company Coat of Arms, with "commerce" as one of their tenets, The initial 1890-94 issue had 19 stamps, The eight higher denomination values (3sh - 10 pounds) have a CV of $50+-$800. But with a revenue cancellation, they are significantly cheaper ($1-$70+).

1896 Scott 30 4p blue & red lilac 
(A4 design)
The 1896 engraved issue (denomination portion is typographed) has 14 major descriptive numbers, and has the above illustrated "A4" design. CV ranges from <$1-$10+ for 11 stamps.

Notice the nice CTO cancellation?  Scott has a note that all issues from 1897-1910 were available as remainders. (Actually, I believe the remainders were available with the 1896 issue, as most of my examples definitely have CTO cancellations.)

1896 Scott 27a 1p scarlet & emerald
A4 Design: Die I
The 1896 A4 design comes in two flavors: Die I and Die II. Die I has a dot to the right of the springbok supporter tail next to "M" of "COMPANY". And the body of the lion is only partially shaded.

1896 Scott 27 1p scarlet & emerald
A4 Design: Die II
Die II has no dot  by the springbok tail, and the lion is fully shaded.

1897 Scott 53 3p red brown & gray brown
(A7 Design)
A nine stamp 1897 issue was produced with some changes in the design (A7).  CV is <$1-$4+ for eight stamps.

1896 Scott 32 8p  deep green & violet/buff (A4 design)
1897 Scott 56 8p deep green & violet/buff (A7 design)
What are the design differences between the 1896 and 1897 issue? The ends of the scrolls pass behind the one leg of each springbok supporter in the 1896 issue, while the ends of the scrolls are between the legs of the springboks in the 1897 issue. (Click and enlarge image if necessary.)

1908 Scott 71 10sh bluish green 
The 1898-1908 engraved issue, again with the Coat of Arms design, has 19 major descriptive numbers. CV ranges from <$1- $3+ for 11 stamps.

This would prove to be the last issue with no "Rhodesia" overprint or inscription.

1909 Scott 89 6p lilac; 1909 Scott 70 7 1/2p on 2sh6p bluish gray
Stamps of 1898-1908 Overprinted or Surcharged
Although the BSAC officially adopted "Rhodesia" as the name of the territories in 1895, and the British government followed suit in 1898, "Rhodesia" did not appear on BSAC stamps until 1909.

The 1909 overprinted/surcharged issue had 20 stamp denominations, and the CV is <$1-$8+ for 12 stamps.

1910 Scott 108 6p claret & brown
"Queen Mary and King George"
The 1910 engraved 18 stamp "Queen Mary and King George" issue is found in various perforations (14, 15 X 14, 14 X 14, 15, 13 1/2) with Scott major and minor numbers.

The issue is also rather expensive, with seven stamps having a CV of $100-$600+. On the modest end, seven stamps are CV $2-$20+.

1913-23 Issue Scott 125 4p orange red & black
"King George V"
The 1913-23 "Admiral" issue, as it is known, has a portrait of King George. Four stamps were printed from single plates, while fifteen stamps were printed from double plates (bi-colored). CV ranges from $2+-$10+ for twelve stamps.

1917 Scott 121 1 1/2p bister brown; 1917 Scott 121g 1 1/2p drab brown
The issue has many minor number color variations, and one is illustrated here.

1917 Scott 120 b 1p bright rose & Scott 122a 2p gray & black, Die III
Be aware that the head and cap region can vary in appearance.Note the king's left ear is unshaded in the 1p bright rose, but has shading lines in the 2p gray and black. In fact, the double plate stamps (bi-colored) are found with Die I, Die II, and Die III variations. Scott has a note about this; but better, the Stanley Gibbons 1840-1970 Commonwealth & British Stamps catalogue has drawing illustrations of the differences.

Deep Blue
1896 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has seven pages for classic Rhodesia, and includes a space for all the major Scott numbers. If one wishes to parse out the 1896 "Coat of Arms" issue (shown above) or the 1913-19 "King George V" issue into minor number types, an extra quadrilled page or two may be required.

1898 Scott 66 1sh bister "Coat of Arms"
Big Blue
BB '69, on two pages, has 53 spaces. Coverage is 37%.

The 1910 "Queen Mary and King George" issue spaces yields two "Most Expensive" stamps @ $42+ and $37+. There are five more BB spaces with CV of $10+-$20+.








Next Page




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1905 (Scott 78) 5p magenta ($20+)
1910 Scott 103 2p gray & black ($10+)
1910 Scott 105 3p olive yellow & violet ($42+)
1910 Scott 106 4p orange & black ($20+)
1910 (Scott 107) 5p olive green & brown ($37+)
1910 (Scott 108) 6p claret & brown ($20)
1913 Scott 125 4p orange red & black ($10+)
B) BB specifies Scott 104a  2 1/2p "light blue", now a minor number @ CV $20. But major number Scott 104 2 1/2p "ultramarine" (CV $8+) could be substituted.
C) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1922 Scott 130 1sh turquoise blue & black 
"King George V"
Out of the Blue
My goodness, I like these stamps! Maybe I should drop everything, and specialize in the African British colonial issues?.....

But then, I like Latin America, Europe, and Asia offerings, to name a few geographical stamp issuing areas. And the French colonials are attractive as well.

I guess it is WW classical era collecting for me. ;-)

Note: The 1911 Encylopaedia Britannia Map of Rhodesia, and the Cecil Rhodes drawing appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. BSAC is definitely one of my favorites as well :)

    Few years back I bought a copy of the £1 Admiral (revenue usage so I paid only a fraction of catalog value), and from time to time I just look and admire the fine art of it. Too bad stamps like these aren't made any more (why, oh why)...

  2. "Too bad stamps like these aren't made any more (why, oh why)..."

    I guess that is why I fish in the more classical end of the stamp pond. ;-)

  3. India postmark on British South Africa Company stamp:

    I have an 1896 British South Africa Company 4 Pence (SC 30) with a "Panhala M" postmark. Yet Panhala is in India. Comments?

    My conjectures:

    1. Someone mailed a letter in Panhala with this stamp affixed. The postal authorities there accepted it as valid postage or simply posted it in error.

    2. There may have been an (in)formal postal policy of allowing British-sponsored stamps to be used throughout British spheres-of-influence.

    1. I'm not sure. A good chance for an investigation. ;-)