A Natural Wonder
The Zambezi River
The Victoria Falls
Ecology of the Victoria Falls
Formation of the Victoria Falls
People of the Victoria Falls
Enter the Ndebele
Discovery of the Victoria Falls
In Livingstone's Footsteps
Development of the Rhodesias
Development of the Railway
Development of Tourism
Development of Victoria Falls Town
Recent History
Further Information
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Postage Stamps

The Post Office on the south bank of the Victoria Falls opened soon after the arrival of the railway and opening of the railway station in mid 1904, with the earliest known 'Victoria Falls, S Rhodesia' franking dating from 17 July 1904. Note, however, that the name Victoria Falls was used for the post office located at the Old Drift in Northern Rhodesia from 1901, until relocated and renamed Livingstone in 1902.

Rhodesia 1905 Victoria Falls Issue

Set of six stamps issued 13th July 1905 to commemorate the opening opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge (which in the event was delayed until September and the visit of the British Association - see here). The issue also coincided with the fiftieth anniversary year of the 'discovery' of the Victoria Falls by David Livingstone. The stamps were used in Southern and Northern Rhodesia and were printed by Waterlow and Sons Ltd, London. The design was after a photograph by Percy M Clark.

1905 Victoria Falls Issue
1905 Victoria Falls Issue. Note special Bulawayo franking for the
opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge, 11th September 1905.

1905 Victoria Falls Red
1905 Victoria Falls 1d (image source)

1905 Victoria Falls Red Used Victoria Falls
1905 Victoria Falls 1/d - Victoria Falls franking

1905 Victoria Falls British Association
Postcard with Victoria Falls 1/d and British Association franking (image source)

1905 Victoria Falls Red Used British Association
Postcard with Victoria Falls 1/d and British Association franking (image source)
Note incorrect caption - the view is from what is now known as Danger Point looking towards the Eastern Cataract.

Livingstone Provisionals of 1917

"The Territories of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, being both administered by the British South Africa Company, used the same postage stamps, which were designated merely 'RHODESIA.' During the Great War, both territories in common with many other British Colonies, decided in 1917 to raise the postal rates with a view to increasing revenue and to make up for the loss caused by the reduced use of postal facilities. The increased demand for the high denominations resulted in the depletion of stocks of 1/2d stamps in Northern Rhodesia.

The two Administrations ordered their stocks from the London offices of the British South Africa Company independently, and immediately the rates were raised Southern Rhodesia ordered stocks of 1 1/2d stamps, but Northern Rhodesia failed to do so. The Northern Rhodesia administration endeavoured to obtain a supply from Southern Rhodesia, but as they could not guarantee to replace them by a fixed date, they decided to surcharge the 1d stamp with the value of 1/2d. This was carried out by the Administration's printing works at Livingstone and the issue was placed on sale on 1st August 1917.

The first issue consisted of the current 1d red stamp overprinted in blue-black also in purple aniline ink with the words 'Half Penny' (no hyphen or stop) in two lines, the original denomination being blocked out by two short bars on either side. The printer set up two horizontal rows of type and after having removed all the margins from the original sheets, printed the surcharge in three operations on pans of 60 stamps...

Livingstone Provisional 1/2d, 1917
There was some doubt as to whether the stamps were valid in Southern Rhodesia and in answer to a query from the Postmaster Bulawayo, the Postmaster Livingstone replied in these terms:

"I beg to inform you that the 1d stamp overprinted 1/2d, is merely a provisional issue to meet a temporary shortage of half-penny stamps and is only available for postage purposes in Northern Rhodesia."

Of this issue one printing was made of 60,000 stamps after which the type was broken up and an order sent to London for a supply of the 1/2d green stamps.

In October a stamp collector residing in Livingstone purchased a supply of these surcharged stamps and found therein two sheets with an inverted surcharge. Although enquiries were immediately instituted at the Post Office, no more could be found.

Livingstone Provisional 1/2d inverted, 1917
In July 1918 it was stated that the owner of these two sheets broke one up sending 30 to an English dealer and selling the balance to a syndicate in Bulawayo...

It would appear that the two sheets of inverted overprints were purposely printed that way, and consequently there was an outcry in the philatelic press. A number of them exist with genuine postmarks, which the critics claimed were obtained to give the stamps an air of respectability.

The first issue, having become exhausted, before receipt from London of the additional requirements, the postal authorities were obliged to provide a further supply of surcharged stamps to enable them to carry on. As the type for the first printing had been broken up, a new setting was prepared. The same printer proceeded as before in the production of the second printing, but in this case the word 'half penny' was hyphenated. Also the word 'penny' was not so long as in the first printing, being 2mm shorter than the original. There is also a full-stop after the word 'Penny' which does not occur in the first printing.

Livingstone Provisional 1/2d, second issue 1917
A quantity of 60,000 stamps was again printed and they were place on sale on 2nd September 1917.

As the shortage of the first issue was largely due to demands made by dealers and collectors, the postal authorities decided that a similar position should not arise in respect to the second, and all philatelic orders were declined, and the remittances returned with a printed letter which read: "In reply to your letter dated... I beg to inform you that the one penny stamps overprinted 'half-penny' is merely a provisional issue to meet a temporary shortage of half-penny stamps and is only available for postal purposes in Northern Rhodesia. I return herewith your remittance enclosed with your letter under reply."

In the second printing the aniline ink used penetrated the paper strongly. Vertical pairs exist where one overprint is in ordinary ink and the other in aniline.

The stock of the provisional issue became exhausted on 22nd April, 1918 and no further issues were made." [Smith R C (1967) Rhodesia - A Postal History]

Life and Death at the Old Drift, Victoria Falls 1898-1905

Discover Victoria Falls - Click to visit site

'To The Victoria Falls' aims to bring you the wonder of the Victoria Falls through a look at its natural and human history.

This website has been developed using information researched from a wide variety of sources, including books, magazines and websites etc too numerous to mention or credit individually, although many key references are identified on our References page. Many of the images contained in this website have been sourced from old photographic postcards and publications and no infringement of copyright is intended. We warmly welcome any donations of photographs or information to this website.

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