The Republic of Rhodesia was a self-governing unrecognized state in Southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979. The de facto successor state to the British settlement of Southern Rhodesia is now known as Zimbabwe. The country neighbors South Africa to the south, Zambia which was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Bechuanaland which is now Botswana, and Mozambique which was then a Portuguese province. The nation’s largest cities were Bulawayo and Salisbury which is modern-day Harare. Read along to learn about Rhodesia banknote history before the notable 100 Trillion and 50 Trillion banknotes began to circulate.

Flag of Rhodesia | Source: Wikipedia

Banknotes In Rhodesia

Rhodesia’s economy was primarily based on the production of only a few primary goods such as chromium and tobacco, making the nation susceptible to the fluctuations of the economy. The country used the Rhodesian dollar for its currency between 1970 and 1980. The dollar was subdivided into 100 cents and replaced the Rhodesian pound. The issuance of the nation’s monetary unit was the responsibility of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia.  

Rhodesia 10 Shillings Banknote | 1936 | P-S146b.2 | Source: Banknote World Educational

In October 1965, the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia board based in Salisbury ordered for Rhodesian pound and shilling banknotes from the Bradbury, Wilkinsons, & Co. These notes were supposed to be delivered in 1966, however, in November 1965, the country declared independence. Consequently, the board was replaced by the British government with a new board based in London. The new board authorized BWC to finalize the printing. The Salisbury-based board refused to pay the order as they placed an order of banknotes with an all-new design from Giesecke & Devrient. A court order put a pause on delivering these notes, hence, the reserve bank was obliged to print them on their own. This family of notes featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and without imprint.  

Rhodesia 5 Pounds Banknote | 1966 | P-29a | Source: Banknote World Educational

In February 1970, the bank launched the Rhodesia dollar even before the declaration of the Republic of Rhodesia. It issued banknotes with similar schemes with the preceding issues but bearing the new currency. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse is no longer there, now the coat of arms takes its place. In addition, the coat of arms at the center is no longer there, the bank logo now is there. 

Rhodesia 2 Dollars Banknote | 1979 | P-39b | Source: Banknote World Educational

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