Thursday, February 28, 2013

Zimbabwe (2003)

Date of issue: July 30th, 2003
Name of issue: Spiders of Southern Africa
Number of arachnid related stamps in issue: 6/6

Due to technical problems at the printers the miniature sheet was released on 28th October 2003, while the postcard was only released later. FDC’s and maxicards were released later with date of issue post marks.

If you are interested in this issue, I highly encourage you to visit this link to consult an article from the Rhodesian Study Circle with a lot more information on this series as well as different variants that I do not have (scroll further on this page to see my rarities of this series).

Information is copied from the postal booklet.

Six of the more common spiders (arachnids) have been selected for this issue, and although not all spiders are harmful or deadly to humans, all spiders have poison glands and use their toxin to catch and immobilize their prey before consuming them. Similar to snake venom, spider poison comes in three different varieties: neurotoxic, which attacks the nervous system; cytotoxic, which attacks the body cells, such as skin and fresh and hemotoxic, which breaks down the prey’s blood cells.

$150 The Baboon Spider - Genus Harpactira 

The baboon spider is big, hairy and scary! They are dark brown to black in colour and live in silk lined burrows in the ground. Baboon spiders are heavily built with a body, head to end of abdomen of approximately 45mm and their leg span can be as much as 95mm. The pedipalps (type of feelers) are particularly long and thick. The silk glands or spinnerets protrude beyond the abdomen. The jaws or chelicerae are directed forwards and the spider strikes downwards with its fangs. In all other spiders the fangs close with a pincer movement. Generally, eight simple eyes are located towards the front of the cephalothorax. The baboon spider bite can be extremely painful though not deadly and the victim will feel nauseous and may go into shock. 

Michel #: 760
Scott #: 941
Yvert #: 508
order: Araneae
family: Theraphosidae
Harpactira sp.

$200 The Rain Spider - Genus Palystes 

The rain spider, so called because they are seen mostly during the rainy season, are also arachnids and should not be confused with the Red Roman which is NOT a spider and not poisonous. The spider is greyish in colour with slightly darker markings on abdomen. Legs are banded with yellow and dark brown underneath. The Rain Spider is a nocturnal, free ranging hunter and can run very swiftly and is often attracted indoors by lights in order to prey on insects. Large in size with head to end of abdomen of approximately 35mm. Leg span 60-70mm. A bite from this spider is extremely painful and some authorities recommend an anti-tetanus injection. 

Michel #: 761
Scott #: 942
Yvert #: 509
order: Araneae
family: Sparassidae
Palystes sp.

$600 The Black Button or Widow Spider - Lactrodectus renivulvatus 

The black button or widow spider is potentially the most deadly of Zimbabwean spiders and Zimbabwe has four different types. The black widow’s cobweb normally has snare threads leading to ground at the base of rocks, logs and in rubble. Their colour varies from dark brown to deep black. They have no markings on the underside but some have red or orange stripes or dots on the top. Victims may or may not feel the bite or any immediate pain. As the neurotoxin venom goes through the system, pain in the legs and chest, excessive sweating, nausea and stomach cramps are experienced. Most at risk are children who do not have the body mass to absorb the poison ~ 2 ~ and persons who have heart problems and breathing problems such as asthma. The spider is not generally aggressive but can often take up residence in a house where it may become dangerous if not noticed. Size from head to end of abdomen of approximately 10-15mm in size. Nocturnal.

Michel #: 762
Scott #: 943
Yvert #: 510
order: Araneae
family: Theridiidae
Latrodectus renivulvatus Dahl, 1902

$900 The Wolf Spider- Family Lycosidae 

Wolf spiders are the true tarantulas of Zimbabwe, although the name is often mistakenly given to baboon spiders. The spider is brown or grey with symmetrical markings on the abdomen, sometimes black underneath with a radiating pattern on head. The wolf spider is notable in that it has one pair of large eyes. Generally, it is free roaming but others will build trapdoor tunnels. One genus Hippasa, builds a funnel web to catch its prey. The female wolf spider carries an egg sac attached to its spinnerets until the young hatch, then they ride on the mothers back. The male's pedipalps (feelers) are decorated with tufts of hair. The size from head to end of abdomen is approximately 30mm in size. The I span can be as much as 80mm.
Michel #: 763
Scott #: 944
Yvert #: 511
order: Araneae
family: Lycosidae

$1,250 The Violin Spider - family Loxoscelidae (see updated family in stamp description)

The violin spider has long slender legs and is often mistaken for the harmless daddy long legs spider but do not hang upside down in cobwebs. It has a strong cytotoxic venom and is the most villainous of poison carriers and can often cause severe necrosis. They are nocturnal hunters who hide in dark places during the day. They are fairly common and often live in houses in Zimbabwe. They will often enter a bed in the early morning or hide inside shoes and clothing where they can inflict a fairly painless bite which can become a red, painful swelling after about six hours. The resulting wound can easily become gangrenous if not treated properly. In colour they are pale to dark reddish brown with a violin identifying mark of dark brown to blackish violin shape. The size from head to end of abdomen is approximately 10 - 15mm in size. Its spindly leg span is considerably larger. 

Michel #: 764
Scott #: 945
Yvert #: 512
order: Araneae
family: *Sicariidae
Loxoscelidae (on stamp)

$1600 The Wall Spider - Family Selenopidae 

The wall spider is very common in houses in Zimbabwe, they are mottled greys and browns in colour with flat bodies. Abdomens are heart-shaped and legs are held sideways, crab like. The Wall Spider builds flat, papery egg cases on walls, polls or bark. They are conspicuous on plain walls, hide in cracks and move quickly to run down prey. Their bite can be painful. The size from head to end of abdomen is approximately 10-15 mm in size. Its leg span can be as much as 70 mm

Michel #: 765
Scott #: 946
Yvert #: 513
order: Araneae
family: Selenopidae

Souvenir sheet:

The souvenir sheet has a much darker contrast, sadly making the artwork more poorly illustrated. You can clearly tell when individual stamps come from the souvenir sheets and not the regular complete sheets. 

Also, all the $150 values have a misprint of the letters "M" and "W" of the country Zimbabwe.

Michel #: Block 10
Yvert #: BF 5

Individual stamps from souvenir sheet:

Cylinder A blocks:

Complete sheets:

$1250 value, cylinder B (sheet #6)

$1250 value, cylinder B (sheet #7)

$1600 value, cylinder B (sheet #256)
*regular color


I would like to thank Mr. Geoff Brakspear of the Rhodesian Study Circle for taking time to review some of my less common material and offering his input and knowledge.

(reminder that you can visit this link to consult an article on more known varieties)

$200 value - mis-cut sheet with magenta margin

$900 value - heavy vertical shift

$200 - perforation shift

$1600 value, cylinder B (sheet #1137)
*red color variant

**It is quite usual with the printing of Zimbabwe's stamps to have color differences as the one above. It is usually due to varying strengths of the printing inks, in this case having the magenta stronger.


Until recently, imperforated stamps of this series were pretty much unheard of. All the imperforate items are from proof sheets and are not issued stamps. I managed to get in touch with someone who had purchased the stock from the Harare print company when they shut down.

$200 value, cylinder A

$600 value, cylinder A

$600 value, cylinder B

$1250 value, cylinder A

Information booklet:

outer pages

inner pages

Technical information:

Size: 42 x 28 mm 
Sheets: 50 stamps, 10 x 5
Artist: Darren Herbert 
Quantity printed: 
$ 150 = 1 500 000 
$ 200 = 1 500 000 
$ 600 = 200 000 
$ 900 = 200 000 
$1 250 = 200 000 
$1 600 = 200 000 
M/S = 20 000 
Cylinders: 1A & 1B 
Paper: Type H 
Print colours: Cyan, magenta, yellow, black 
Perforations: 14¼ x 14 
Imprint block: 3 stamps - Type 1/1 D 
Cylinder block: 4 stamps - Type 4 
Number block: 4 stamps - Type 3a

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