This is a commemorative 1 Crown from Southern Rhodesia, or what is now known as the country of Zimbabwe.
The subject is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Cecil Rhodes after which the area of Rhodesia was named. Mr. Rhodes is quite an interesting character and quite some articles have been written about him.
He was born in 1853 in England and because of a weak condition was transferred to South Africa, where the climate would be more favorable for his health, his parents hoped.
The rise and political fall of Cecil Rhodes
At first he worked at the cotton farm of his older brother Herbert Rhodes, but the soil was unsuitable for cotton growing, and they ventured into the diamond business in 1871 when the farm failed.
Over the course of the next 20 years with the aid of huge capital brought in by Rothschild & Co, he was able to buy all other mining operations in the region of Kimberly and buy large tracts of land / claims.
The firm that he ran was named De Beers Diamond Mining Company, which got its name from the owners of the land where diamonds were discovered, and together with the Barnato Brothers in 1888 merged into the De Beers group which is one of the world largest diamond companies.
How Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato operated in respect to buying claims or shares is extremely fascinating, but I have to refer to Wikipedia and Google if you want more extensive information about that.
What’s relevant to the South Rhodesian 1 crown is his political career that started in 1880, and him becoming Prime Minister of the British Cape Colony in 1890. In this function he supported the failed Jameson Raid into Dutch South African Boer Republic, which embarrassed the British Government and he was forced to step down.
One of the motives for supporting the Jameson Raid was to expand British Rule in South Africa, but more important : to get control over major gold resources that had recently been found in the lands that were occupied by the Dutch South African Boers.
This would lead to the 2nd Boer War where eventually the British Crown subjugated the Boers and their precious lands, at the cost of the deaths of tens of thousands innocent Boer women and children.
The founding of Rhodesia
In 1889 he started another company called the “British South Africa Company”, and obtained mineral rights from local chiefs in what’s now the area of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The area over which the BSAC had control would be officially named Rhodesia in 1895, and in 1898 a divide was made by naming the land south of the Zambezi River, Southern Rhodesia.
The legal side of until when it was named as such is a troublesome one, but let’s say it was known to most people until 1980 as Southern Rhodesia.
The short history of Southern Rhodesia with the civil war is also very intriguing, leading to what’s Zimbabwe sadly has become, under especially Robert Mugabe’s rule from 1980 well into the 21st century.
Cecil Rhodes died in 1902 and was buried in the land which was named after him.
The weight of this one Crown is 28.28 g / 0.9092 ozt, and has a composition of 0.500 Fine Silver. Meaning that there’s 14.14 g / 0.4546 ozt actual silver present in the coin.
The lettering on the edge of the coin says : 1853 – Out of vison came reality – 1953, marking the 100th anniversary.
There are 123.500 pieces minted of the regular variant, and the numismatic value depending on condition varies between the $20 and $65.
Check out the Southern Rhodesian 1 Crown from 1953 on my Youtube channel :