Southern Rhodesia / Rhodesia and Nyasaland / Rhodesia

Started by eurocoin, July 22, 2015, 04:57:07 PM

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In 1953, in the face of African opposition, Britain had consolidated the two colonies of Rhodesia with Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dominated by Southern Rhodesia. The Federation was established on August 1st 1953

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as the Central African Federation (CAF), was a semi-independent federation of three southern African territories – the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia and the British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland – between 1953 and 1963. Constitutionally, it was a federal realm of the British Crown, meaning that it was neither a Crown colony nor a dominion. As, however, the intention was that the federation would, in due course, become a dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations, the British sovereign ("the Crown") was represented by a Governor-General.

The Federation was established on 1 August 1953, with the aim of forging a middle way between a fully independent majority-ruled state and the white-dominated territory of South Africa. It was intended to be a permanent entity, but ultimately crumbled because the black African nationalists wanted a greater share of power than the dominant minority white population was willing to concede.

Northern Rhodesia had attracted a relatively small number of European settlers, but from the time these first secured political representation, they agitated for white minority rule, either as a separate entity or associated with Southern Rhodesia and possibly Nyasaland. The mineral wealth of Northern Rhodesia made full amalgamation attractive to Southern Rhodesian politicians, but the British government preferred a looser association that includee Nyasaland. This was intended to protect Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland from discriminatory Southern Rhodesian laws. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland formed in 1953 was intensely unpopular among the African majority and its formation hastened calls for majority rule.

It was commonly understood that Southern Rhodesia would be the dominant territory in the federation – economically, electorally, and militarily. How much so defined much of the lengthy constitutional negotiations and modifications that followed. African political opposition and nationalist aspirations, for the time, were mute.

Decisive factors in both the creation and dissolution of the Federation were the significant difference between the number of Africans and Europeans in the Federation, and the difference between the number of Europeans in Southern Rhodesia compared to the Northern Protectorates. Compounding this was the significant growth in Southern Rhodesia's European settler population (overwhelmingly British migrants), unlike in the Northern Protectorates. This was to greatly shape future developments in the Federation. In 1939, approximately 60,000 Europeans resided in Southern Rhodesia; shortly before the Federation was established there were 135,000; by the time the Federation was dissolved they had reached 223,000 (though newcomers could only vote after three years of residency). Nyasaland showed the least European and greatest African population growth.


Flag of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Flag of Nyasaland.

Flag of Northern Rhodesia.

Flag of Southern Rhodesia.


British coins had been demonetized on 8th July 1939 in Southern Rhodesia, and they were demonetized in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland on 1st January 1955. The Rhodesia and Nyasaland coinage was then introduced throughout the Federation. South Rhodesian coinage was not demonetized and continued to circulate. Above you can see the obverse of the half penny and penny.


Above you can see the reverse of the halfpenny and penny. The half penny shows stylised giraffes, whilst the penny shows stylised elephants. These charming designs were created by English engraver Bernard Sindall.


These reverse designs were the work of Paul Vincze.

3d.   Flame lily.
6d.   Leopard.
1s.   Sable antelope.


The reverse of the two shillings coin, showing a sable antelope, was designed by Humphrey Paget.

The uncrowned effigy was used on the coins of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, since Southern Rhodesia was the dominant member of the Federation.



Humphrey Paget  was also responsible for modelling the coat of arms for the reverse of the half crown.

The Latin motto translates as "Let us deserve greatness".

The animals depicted on the coat of arms are: an African fish eagle; a sable antelope; and a leopard.



No commemorative coins were ever issued by the Federation. Growing African nationalism and general dissent, particularly in Nyasaland, persuaded Britain to dissolve the Federation on 31st December 1963.

Nyasaland became independent from the UK on 6th July 1964. To see her coins since independence as Malawi, click here.

Northern Rhodesia became independent from the UK on 24th October 1964. To see her coins since independence as Zambia, click here.



Flag of Southern Rhodesia.

Flag of Rhodesia, 1964 onward.

On 7 October 1964 the Southern Rhodesian government announced that when Northern Rhodesia achieved independence as Zambia, Southern Rhodesia would officially become known as Rhodesia, since the absence of a "Northern" Rhodesia made the continued use of "Southern" superfluous. It passed legislation to become simply Rhodesia, but the British government refused to approve this on the grounds that the country's name was defined by British legislation and so could not be altered by the colonial government. The Rhodesian government, which had begun using the new name anyway, did not press the issue, but the British government continued to refer to the country as Southern Rhodesia.

Rhodesia retained the old flag of Southern Rhodesia but changed the colour of the field from dark blue to pale blue. Rhodesia was now acting as an independent country, while under international law it was still a British possession.


Arnold Machin's effigy of the Queen, as it appeared on the Rhodesian coins of 1964.

The Rhodesian pound was introduced following the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, when Southern Rhodesia changed its name to simply Rhodesia. The Rhodesian pound replaced the Rhodesia and Nyasaland pound at par, and the coins and banknotes of this earlier currency continued to circulate.

In 1964, coins were introduced for 6 pence, 1, 2 and 2½ shillings, marked as 6D, 1'-, 2'- and 2'6. These coins also bore a denomination in cents (5c, 10c, 20c and 25c, respectively), although Rhodesia did not decimalise until 1970.

In 1963 Arnold Machin created his now famous numismatic effigy of the Queen wearing a tiara, which is not a full crown, so the monarch appears as somewhere between crowned and uncrowned. It was QEII's express wish at the time that those countries that wanted to use the then new Machin portrait should be able to do so. This marked the end of the system whereby colonies had been obliged to use the crowned effigy of the monarch. Now everyone was free to use the same numismatic portrait.

The Machin effigy had been promised to Southern Rhodesia, still legally a British possession, but when, without Britain's consent, the white government changed its name to simply "Rhodesia" and refused to accept black majority rule,  the UK government discussed banning the Rhodesians from using the new portrait. Eventually, to avoid controversy, the British government reluctantly allowed Rhodesia to use the new effigy, and her new coinage of 1964 thus became the first in the world to do so. Australia and The Gambia were the next to use it, in 1966, followed by New Zealand in 1967. The UK adopted the effigy for its decimal coins, the first of which, the 5 pence and 10 pence coins, were issued in 1968.


The obverse designs of the Rhodesian coins of 1964. The side that carries the country name is often called the obverse. However, you may prefer to regard the side carrying the Queen's portrait as the obverse.

The coins were minted by the South African Mint, and the designs were the work of South African designer Thomas (Tommy) Sasseen. The themes were mostly recognisable from the coins of Southern Rhodesia. The sable antelope had also appeared on the Rhodesia and Nyasaland shilling.

6d.   Flame lily.
1s.   Coat of arms.
2s.   Zimbabwe bird.
2/6.  Sable antelope.


Ian Smith.

On 11th November 1965 Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, and the party leader of the ruling Rhodesian Front, signed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (commonly referred to as UDI), announcing that Rhodesia now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments, regarding the terms under which Rhodesia could become fully independent, it was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States Declaration of Independence nearly two centuries before.

Britain, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal. Economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal. The Rhodesian government, which mostly comprised members of the country's white minority, was indignant when less developed African colonies to the north quickly advanced to independence during the early 1960s, while Rhodesia was refused sovereignty under Britain's new ideal of "no independence before majority rule". Most white Rhodesians felt that they were due independence after four decades of self-government, and that Britain was betraying them by withholding it.

The Smith administration now regarded Rhodesia as an independent dominion and professed continued loyalty to the Queen.


In 1966 the rebel Rhodesian Government decided to issue a series of gold coins commemorating the first anniversary of the U.D.I. This was a series of 3 denominations: 10 shillings, one pound and five pounds, which were housed in a black box that was inscribed 'RESERVE BANK OF RHODESIA' and depicted the Zimbabwe ruins.


Threepence coins were introduced in 1968. They did not bear a denomination in cents. The design was taken from the old Southern Rhodesian coin and showed spear points. The threepence coin had long been nicknamed the "tickey" in Rhodesia, and also in South Africa, because of its small size. The word "tickey" is similar in meaning to the colloquial British term "titchy" or "tichy".

Rhodesia was easily able to get around economic sanctions, with help from South Africa, Israel and other countries, so the economy was still able to thrive. Back in the UK, opinion was split over Rhodesia. Ian Smith was popular with some Britons, who said we should support "our kith and kin", as Smith had fought in the Second World war as a fighter pilot, and, as a result of having been shot down, he lost an eye and had to have plastic surgery for facial burns. With his gentle Rhodesian accent, he did not have the air of a fanatic, and his regime was far from being as harsh as apartheid South Africa. However, the British Empire was still being wound down, and it was mainly those with nostalgia for the old days who supported him and his regime. A newer, younger generation would have no truck with racism, and the majority of British politicians in all parties supported this, and in that respect they were ahead of much of the British population.


Flag of Rhodesia, introduced in 1968.

On the third anniversary of UDI, the Rhodesian flag of 1964 was replaced by a green and white flag, with the full coat of arms in the centre. Elizabeth II was still the Rhodesian head of state in the eyes of Smith's administration, even though the Queen had refused ever to accept the title "Queen of Rhodesia".

This was a sign of changes to come. In late 1969 the rebel Rhodesian Government won a majority in a referendum to declare Rhodesia a Republic.