~ 1 ~
1964 SOUTHERN RHODESIA DEFINITIVE ISSUE
(Issued 19th February, 1964)
After the breakup of the Federation, each of the component countries rushed to produce a new definitive
issue. Southern Rhodesia was the last of the territories to issue a new definitive issue, with its release on
19th February, 1964. The theme of this issue was a portrayal of the country’s natural resources, which
included flora, fauna and some of the minerals found in the country. 1
The design and printing of the stamps was contracted by the Ministry of Posts to Harrison & Sons of
London. “The whole project of the 14 design set has taken little more than six months to carry out – from
designing and artwork to printing, and finally shipping to stamps to Rhodesia”.2 The contract must therefore
have been awarded in June or July 1963.
The Stamp Designs:
Gibbons Stamp Monthly produced a series of articles from March to May 1964, entitled “An Issue is Born
– Southern Rhodesia 1963 (sic)”.2 The description of the artwork is given here, along with two examples
of the illustrations that went along with the articles. The other illustrations are much the same as the stamps
themselves without the text and Queen’s cameo. The substance of the articles is reproduced below as it
gives a good insight into the design of the stamps and the Ministry of Post involvement.
“Victor Whiteley was the artist-designer and his original artwork is reproduced here by the courtesy of
Mr. J. Snell of Rhodesia House, London, and of the Postmaster-General, Southern Rhodesia, with notes
based on information supplied by Messrs. Snell and Whiteley.
The source of this design was an artist's
impression of a partly exposed cob, and it was
originally intended for the 3d stamp, in two
colours - "corn-yellow” and blue. The addition of
a third colour, yellow-green for the leaves, was
subsequently requested, and the fact that this
would add half as much again to the production
costs of the stamp created a problem: the print
order for the 3d (the normal postage rate in
Rhodesia) was about 36 million!
Initial artwork by Victor Whiteley
(Courtesy Keith Harrop)
Conveniently, the Kudu, planned for the ½d, was
an ideal two-colour subject and, with only 3
million required of the lowest value stamp, the
switch was made. Maize takes pride of place of all
food crops in Southern Rhodesia, and is second
only to tobacco as a cash crop. It is the main
food of the Africans and enters into the diet of
the European population.
~ 2 ~
In the corner window of Rhodesia House, looking out on the Strand with contemptuous eyes, is an
enormous carved head of a buffalo, probably the only one that can be faced at close quarters without
fear of reprisals! The sullen beast shown on the stamp was the subject of a Kodachrome transparency,
taken, one imagines, with a telephoto lens. The artist checked other pictures of buffalo for detail, and
he has made it clear that this is a very solid, thick-set animal. Its horns sometimes exceed 4 feet in
span and measure between 12 and 14 inches across the "palm". The buffalo is a brave beast, dangerous
when cornered and wounded, and often resorting to a cunning move called the "hook", when it circles
round in its own tracks in order to ambush the unwary huntsman.
The artist's brief was also brief and concise - "A hand of tobacco", and the source of the design was another
stamp, the 2s. 6d value of the Tobacco Congress issue of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1963. The "hand"
depicted is of the cured Virginia type of tobacco, and when the artwork was first submitted to the Rhodesian
authorities it was returned with the comments: "Leaf to be brighter. The colour is almost the shade of
a lesser-grown variety known as Burley. We would like a shade . . . similar to that of the original design".
Another query was: "Is the background too dark and is it killing the leaf?" In fact, the gold colour of the
leaf was the same as the original, and it was the deep violet background which caused an optical illusion in
the shade of the leaf. The two colours contrast effectively. Tobacco is by far Southern Rhodesia's biggest
export, 55 per cent, being exported to the United Kingdom in 1963.
Two transparencies provided this charming subject, one being used for the pose of the animal, evidently on
the alert in a forest of young trees, the other for detail of head and horns. The studio team decided to
emphasize these aspects of the kudu as its most attractive and distinctive features. The brushwork is subtle
and delicate, and the paintwork has the quality of a bas-relief. This is the Greater Kudu, Strepsiceros
kudu, most common of the larger antelope in Southern Rhodesia. The bull, agile and graceful, stands 5
feet high at the shoulder and has magnificent, spiralling horns which may be over 4 feet in length. Its colour
varies from smokey-blue to tawny-brown, with vertical "pencil" stripes at the sides of the body and a
white "V" mark between the eyes.
The cluster of oranges was a black-and-white magazine
picture, and the artwork's original deep bluish green
leaves and background was changed to a shade of bottle-
green at the request of the "client". A panel of this
colour was added to the artwork as a guide. The actual
colour of the stamp seems to have struck a happy
medium. This design is of interest because it bears
pencilled notes relating to the lettering. Mr. Whiteley
favours cased or outlined letters which enable the country
name to be superimposed on a multicoloured design,
whereas plain letters need a solid background panel in
contrasting colour to make them distinct. The notes read: "The outer case round title is intended to assist
printing throughout entire set of stamps; i.e. in this case the casing will merge with background - giving
prominence to white lettering".
(James Gavin came across a black and white photo emanating from the Public Relations Department of
the Ministry of Home Affairs, D C van Melsen is credited as the photographer. On the reverse of the photo
is typed “Kieffer Pears on show at the Rhodes-Inyanga Orchard”. A further handwritten notation sates
“4d Value/ Clutch of.../ 22mm x 2.../4d top right”. As can be seen from the scan from the RSC Journal, No
~ 3 ~
261, page 177, the cluster of four pears appears to be almost exactly what is illustrated on the stamp. The
question is whether this is indeed the photo that Victor Whiteley use, and did the photo have the same
annotation of the reverse?)
6d. Flame Lily.
Another transparency was the source of this picture of Rhodesia's unofficial floral emblem, the flame
lily, also known as the Turk's Cap or gloriosa lily. Originally rendered in two colours, a third colour,
yellow, was found necessary and a background similar to that of the Fiji 8d. "Hibiscus" stamp (now 9d.)
was requested and effected. The flame lily is remarkably attractive and rich in colour, though sometimes
inconspicuous in its natural surroundings. The flowers vary a great deal—in colour from a deep crimson
to a bright yellow, and in the amount of crinkling and twist to the petals. The truest yellow form is said
to be found in the east, while the colour gradually deepens to the west of Rhodesia. The inverted red
and yellow petals, sweeping up and away from the centre and ending in a thin point, are like individual
candle flames—hence its popular name. The plant is poisonous.
9d. Ansellia Orchid.
Again, the original artwork was executed in two
colours, with a third colour added by request as
for the 6d. As it transpired the extra expense was
fully justified for the third colour—the green "leaf
motif" background—improved the design enor-
mously. The source was a Kodachrome
transparency depicting the plant without a
background. The ansellia is widely distributed
throughout tropical Africa, and grows on trees in
savannah country where there is a marked dry
season. The spotting of the flowers, which is
variable and often heavier than shown, has given
it the names of "Leopard Orchid" or "Tiger
Orchid". It is undoubtedly one of the most
attractive of African wild orchids and makes a
pleasing stamp. The species depicted is Ansellia
giganlea, var. nilotica.
Initial artwork by Victor Whiteley
(Courtesy Keith Harrop)
~ 4 ~
"Out of Africa, always something new" is an axiom attributed to the Romans. The discovery of
emeralds by two prospectors, Contat and Oosthuizen, in the Belingwe area of Southern Rhodesia
certainly attracted worldwide interest. The main source of the design was a coloured magazine picture
of rock ore in its natural state with the emeralds embedded in it. A portion of the rock was selected by