Southern Rhodesia (subsequently to become "Rhodesia" then Zimbabwe) had been a stamp issuing country since achieving self-government from the British South Africa Company in 1924. It is a mystery why in 1951 they decided to issue their first postage due stamps by overprinting British postage due stamps rather than adopting the common colonial key type. Nor was this a temporary expedient as they continued in use for about 10 years. The quantities issued (220,000 of the ½d to nearly 2 million of the 4d) were not so small as to imply that overprints were the cheaper option. The set is a mixture of the two contemporary colour series of the unoverprinted stamps, as when these stamps were overprinted not all of the changed colour postage dues had been released yet; this reinforces the supposition that there was only a single printing.
In terms of legibility this overprint is not an overwhelming success, and the unoverprinted versions also used in the country alongside these are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the overprinted version, especially on the 2d stamp.
Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.
King George VI
Postage due set
1 October 1951
1 ½d green
2 1d blue
3 2d black
4 3d violet
5 4d green
6 4d blue
7 1/- blue
Note: the 4d green was withdrawn very quickly after issue when it was spotted that both the former green and the newly introduced blue stamps had been overprinted. Although most of the stock of 4d green stamps was destroyed there are reports of some being reissued to Gwelo.
Southern Rhodesia joined the "Central African Federation" of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1954, but postage due stamps inscribed "Rhodesia and Nyasaland" were not issued till 1961; used copies of the overprinted dues exist with postmarks as late as April 1963. In The Overprinter 3/1978 an article states that "Stocks of the 1d and 1s values were still being used in Salisbury in July 1964 [and] remaining stocks of the 1d, 2d, 3d and 1s values were withdrawn at the close of business on 16.6.1965".
page last updated on: 24 June 2006
gbos: GB Overprints Society