Warwick and Warwick

Rare Rhodesia Double Head covers in the Norman Levin collection

By Colin Such

The Rhodesia Double Heads stamps of 1910 to 1913 are so named because they depict the heads of both King George V and Queen Mary, his wife. They are engraved stamps and the majority of the denominations were printed in two colours.

In my opinion, they are amongst the most attractive stamps issued anywhere in the world. So, you can imagine my delight when I learned Warwick & Warwick had been selected to auction what must be one of the best collections of covers and postmarks on Rhodesian Double Heads ever assembled.

The collection was formed by the late Norman Levin, who concentrated on obtaining first day cancels as well as village postmarks.

First day cover of the 1910 Double Head ½ d.

Rhodesia Double Heads on cover are rare because the number of letters being sent through the postal system of this remote African colony at this time was very limited.

Rhodesia Double Head first day covers are also very rare. However, Norman Levin managed to obtain two first day covers, as well as 21 first day cancels on stamps off cover. When the Gunnar Strehmel collection was auctioned in 1994, it was thought that only 3 or 4 first day covers had been recorded.

Cover collectors place great store on non-philatelic (commercial) covers, which bare the correct rate of postage and Norman Levin’s collection of valuable Rhodesia stamps and Double Head covers is thought to have included more commercial covers than any other collection ever assembled.

Amongst the covers in the collection was a commercial cover to the USA, franked with the perf.14 ½ d and 1d singles and a 1d pair tied by the rare ‘T.P.O. UP /S. RHODESIA’ postmark of the Rhodesian railways. The perf 14 2d was represented by a cover to Cape Province with the correct franking. A 1912 cover to USA was franked with the perf 14 1d pair and the perf 15 3d, the latter a great rarity on cover. Another commercial cover bore the perf 14 5d, which was made even more desirable by the fact that the stamp had the ‘gash in ear’ variety, so called because the Queen’s ear has a tiny horizontal mark, resembling a gash.

A 1913 cover bore a perf 14 5d and had been posted from the tiny settlement of Shamva, near Salisbury, to the tiny settlement of Rehoboth in German South-West Africa. Imagine the journey this cover has taken! It would certainly not have been by the shortest overland route, as roads did not exist.

Norman managed to obtain 2 first day covers, as well as 21 first day cancels on stamps off cover. When the Gunnar Strehmel collection was auctioned in 1994, it was thought that only 3 or 4 first day covers had been recorded.

Cover collectors place great store on non-philatelic (commercial) covers, which bare the correct rate of postage and Norman Levin’s collection of Double Head covers is thought to have included more commercial covers than any other collection ever assembled. Amongst the covers in the collection was a commercial cover toU.S.A., franked with the perf.14 ½ d and 1d singles and a 1d pair tied by the rare “T.P.O. UP /S. RHODESIA” postmark of the Rhodesian railways. The perf 14 2d was represented by a cover toCape Provincewith the correct franking. A 1912 cover toU.S.A.was franked with the perf 14 1d pair and the perf 15 3d, the latter a great rarity on cover. Another commercial cover bore the perf 14 5d, which was made even more desirable by the fact that the stamp had the “gash in ear” variety, so called because the Queen’s ear has a tiny horizontal mark, resembling a gash.

A 1913 cover bore a perf 14 5d and had been posted from the tiny settlement of Shamva, near Salisbury, to the tiny settlement of Rehoboth in German South-West Africa. Imagine the journey this cover has taken! It would certainly not have been by the shortest overland route, as roads did not exist.

1919 cover bearing 3d deep reddish purple and ochre and 5d purple-brown and ochre error of colour. Ex Gibbs.

Regarded by many collectors as the finest Double Head cover in existence, the 1919 registered envelope bearing the perf 14 3d and the rare perf 14 5d purple-brown and ochre error of colour (pictured above) realised £10,062 in our auction house in February 2009. This cover was formerly in the Robert Gibbs collection.

A further cover, which was ex-Gibbs and also ex-Simpson, bore the 7/6d value. Although over-franked, this cover is very rare, with possibly only two in existence.

The ‘Norman Levin collection’ - one of the finest collections of valuable Rhodesia covers - was offered in our auction on 4 February 2009.

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