Southern Rhodesia / Rhodesia and Nyasaland / Rhodesia

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

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Rhodesia adopted a decimal currency on 17th February 1970. The new Rhodesian dollar replaced the Rhodesian pound at a rate of two dollars to each pound. The only new coins of the new currency that were introduced in 1970 were the half cent, one cent and two cents pieces. These circulated alongside the earlier coins of the Rhodesian pound for 5, 10, 20 and 25 cents, which were also denominated in shillings and pence. The Rhodesian 1964 and 1968 coins remained legal tender and in circulation until around early 1981, when Zimbabwe's 1980 coins were put into circulation. Southern Rhodesian and Rhodesia and Nyasaland coins remained in circulation until 1970, when they were demonetised with the advent of the new currency.

The new coins were issued with the Rhodesian coat of arms on the reverse, which replaced the portrait of Elizabeth II.  This was in anticipation of Rhodesia's reconstitution as a republic, which happened a mere two weeks after their issue, on 2nd of March 1970. The coins, which had been designed once more by Tommy Sasseen, were unusual in that the reverse was blank of any text, apart from Sasseen's initials. See also: Circulation coins where one side has neither text nor numerals.

The half cent and one cent coins carried an obverse design showing the leaves of the flame lily, which was Rhodesia's national flower, while the familiar spear points once more graced the obverse of the 2½ cents coin.

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Rhodesia 5c 1973-1975-.jpg

5 cent coins: left, 1973; right, 1975.



It was not until 1973 that an addition was made to the new coinage: a 5 cents coin. No other new denominations were issued that year. The obverse showed the same flame lily design that had appeared on the old 5c / 6d coin of 1964. Like the other new coins issued so far, the reverse carried the coat of arms without any text, apart from the designer's initials.

This was a one-year type, because in 1975, the next issue of the coin removed the word "RHODESIA" from the side showing the lily and transferred it to the side showing the coat of arms. The date was then also rearranged, on the side of the coin showing the lily.




The 5 cents coins as it looked when it was next issued in 1975.

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In addition to the new version of the 5 cents coin, 1975 saw the issue of the final denominations of the new coinage.

Above you see the 10 cents coin. The design is familiar from the old 10c / 1/- coin of 1964. As with all the copper-nickel issues of 1975, the name RHODESIA now appears on the side showing the full coat of arms with supporters.

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The 20 cents depicts the famous Zimbabwe bird.

The design once more is familiar, having appeared on its 1964 counterpart.

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The 25 cents features that old favourite, the sable antelope. It was the symbolic national animal of Rhodesia and of Southern Rhodesia.

Interestingly, Rhodesia was one of the few countries to issue both a 20 cents and a 25 cents coin simultaneously. This was because they replaced the predecimal two shillings coin and two shillings and sixpence coin (also known as a half crown) respectively. Jamaica also issued a 20 cents and 25 cents coin after decimalisation, for the very same reason.

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The half cent and one cent coins were also issued again in 1975, but curiously they retained their legend free reverses: the word "RHODESIA" was still not placed beneath the full coat of arms, unlike on the higher denominations. The 2½ cents coin had only been issued in 1970 and was never issued again.

By 1975, the situation in Rhodesia was not going well for the government and the white minority. The bush war, a guerrilla war waged against the government by the African nationalists of ZANU and ZAPU, had gathered pace since 1972. By 1975 Angola and Mozambique, which bordered Rhodesia, had become independent from Portugal, and they were now run by hostile Marxist Africans. Additionally the USA had pressured apartheid South Africa to withdraw support from Rhodesia. Time was running out for Rhodesia, and its final coins of the existing series was issued in 1977, though no new denominations were added after 1975.

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The flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia.


Ian Smith announced his acceptance in principle of "one man, one vote" during Henry Kissinger's Anglo-American initiative in September 1976. In March 1978 he concluded the Internal Settlement with non-militant nationalist groups headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and Chief Jeremiah Chirau. This settlement, boycotted by the Patriotic Front of ZANU and ZAPU and rejected internationally,led to multiracial elections and Rhodesia's reconstitution under majority rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in June 1979.

Muzorewa, the electoral victor, took office as the country's first black Prime Minister at the head of a coalition Cabinet comprising 12 blacks and five whites, including Smith as minister without portfolio. Dismissing Muzorewa as a "neocolonial puppet", ZANU and ZAPU continued their armed struggle until December 1979, when Whitehall, Salisbury and the Patriotic Front settled at Lancaster House.

Muzorewa's government revoked UDI, thereby ending the country's claim to be independent after 14 years, and dissolved itself. The UK suspended the constitution and vested full executive and legislative powers in a new Governor, Lord Soames, who oversaw a ceasefire and fresh elections during February and March 1980. These were won by ZANU, whose leader Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister when the UK granted independence to Zimbabwe as a republic within the Commonwealth in April 1980.


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Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, 50 cents, 1980.  Pattern.   Coat of arms.






Numismatically, that is not quite the end of the story. In recent years a 50 cent pattern piece dated 1980, intended for the ill-fated regime of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, has appeared on the market. The initials "LDL" stand for Lourens de Lange, a designer and engraver at the South African Mint. His reverse design for the pattern portrays a leaping salmon.

See also: Zimbabwe-Rhodesia 50 cent pattern of 1980.

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Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

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Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

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An interesting article appears in this month's edition of Coin News (UK) (March 2022): "Coins of the Rhodesian Rebellions", by Ken Williams.

He writes:

Before UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence), the base metal coins below the value of sixpence bore the inscription of "Southern Rhodesia" or "Rhodesia and Nyasaland". The latter was a legacy from the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland established in 1953, incorporating Southern Rhodesia with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Federation was dissolved on December 31, 1963; Northern Rhodesia gained independence as Zambia, Nyasaland as Malawi and Southern Rhodesia (dropping the "Southern") retained its self-governing status. From then on, each country issued its own coinage, but strangely, only in denominations above threepence. This was the result of a provisional agreement by the three governments to allow the Federal coins of the denominations 1d, 2d and 3d to remain in circulation throughout the former Federation. In Rhodesia, all the Federal and the old Southern Rhodesian coins of the higher denominations (6d to 2s 6d) were demonetized in June 1965. The low value bronze coinage, which lasted a lot longer, was not demonetized until January 1973.

I had always wondered why Malawi and Zambia did not issue a threepence. Rhodesia eventually issued one in 1968.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.