£1 note

Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe), AD 1950

Showing the ruins of Great Zimbabwe

This Southern Rhodesian banknote from 1950 bears an image of the granite ruins of Great Zimbabwe. This vast and impressive city was built over a long period of time, from around 1200 to 1400, and was surrounded by a twenty-metre-high wall. Archaeological evidence found at the site shows that it was the centre of a trading network that stretched across Africa and out to the Indian Ocean ports.

The site was a popular destination for visitors to the area during the twentieth century, although the ruins were also used for political ends. Some people did not believe that the city could have been built by black Africans, imagining that Phoenicians, Arabs, Egyptians or even the Queen of Sheba might have been responsible. In the 1960s the British government of Rhodesia supported this view, using it to claim that Britain's African subjects therefore had no right to self-rule.

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More information


J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Length: 153.000 mm
Width: 82.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1984-6-5-563



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