1910 1913 – Rhodesia Double Head Issue


The 11th November, 1910 saw a new issue of stamps by the BSAC – seventeen values in total – to coincide with the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The primary reason for their visit was to open the First Parliament of the newly-formed Union of South Africa.

Why, more than one hundred years on, is there this fascination with this particular issue?  It is an enchantment that transcends an interest in Rhodesian philately.  With Edward VII’s death, the design had to be changed at the last moment yet the final results are stunning. The ‘so-called’ Double Head issue, with its variations in colours and the many flaws that are to be found in the head plates, have enthralled and occupied the minds of philatelists over the decades.  The bi-coloured stamps would have bedazzled the early settlers in Rhodesia; they certainly caught the eye of stamp collectors throughout the World.

In 1912, when half of the Double Heads were yet to be printed, C.C. Woolacutt produced a study of the various colours of the issue in The Rhodesian Philatelist – published in Salisbury.  In 1925, in GSM, Stanley Phillips wrote:

It is in the later Rhodesian issues, however, that the collector finds his happy hunting ground.  No issues of any country have been so prolific of marked colour as the ‘double portrait’ and ‘Admiral’ series of 1910 to date, a vivid rainbow of flaming shades, of which the present long catalogue list only describes a fraction…The rarity of some of those already listed is hardly yet realised

The fact that they featured the head of George V, a significant stamp collector in his own right, and his wife, Queen Mary, suggests an alignment of the philatelic stars.  Even the mono-coloured stamps came in for praise – Bob Gibbs was to describe the 1d Double Head as the greatest stamp in the British Empire considering its many shades and its profile of flaws and repairs.

The Values:

The 1d Double Head: The Greatest Stamp in the British Empire?
The Bi-colours