Resource Page for Collectors of Barbados Stamps and Postal History
History & Background
The Portuguese were probably the first Europeans to
arrive on the island in about the year 1500. In 1605 Sir Olave Leigh, "a
worshipful Knight of Kent", landed on the island and claimed it for King James. The first group of English
settlers arrived on the island in about 1624 and by 1650 there were some 20,000
people who had settled on the island. It is said that the island is so called after the
bearded fig trees which were found on the island.
The British Post Office established a Packet Agency in Bridgetown in
1663. At first the Agency relied on casual ships to carry the mail. In 1702
Edmund Dummer started a monthly
service between England and the West Indies. However, in 1711 Dummer
was made bankrupt and the service was terminated. The Packet Agency again used casual ships to
carry the mail. In 1745 a regular monthly service was resumed by the British Post Office.
In 1840 the
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (a private company) agreed to provide a fleet of not fewer than 14 steam vessels and received a contract from the Admiraly
to carry all Her Majesty's mails twice every month to Barbados in the West Indies, sailing from Southampton or Falmouth.
The 14 new steam vessels which were built for the purpose were Thames, Medway, Trent, Isis, Severn, Avon, Tweed, Clyde, Teviot, Dee, Solway
Tay, Forth and Medina. Because of their destination, these vessels were known as the West Indies Mail Steamers.
The service was established with the sailing of the first Royal Mail Steam Packet, the PS Thames, from Falmouth on 1 January 1841.
Five shilling stamp with 1873 postmark Barbadoes
Postal markings first
appeared on mail from Barbados in the 1760’s. At
the time the name of the colony was spelt ‘Barbadoes’. The British Post
Office was responsible for the internal
postal system until 1 August 1851 when it was handed over to the
Barbados Legislature. The British continued to operate the Packet
Agency, for overseas mail, till 1858. So from 1851 to
1858 there were two postal agencies in operation on the island. One for internal and one for external mail.
The first Barbados stamps were issued in 1852 and featured Britannia seated with a ship in the background.
These first issues did not have any value showing on them but were distinguishable by their colour; green for ½d, blue for 1d,
greyish slate for 2d and a brownish red for the 4d.
The rate adopted for inland use was one penny per half-ounce on prepaid letters, with an additional penny for each additional half-ounce.
Newspapers were carried free. Other printed papers was charged a halpenny each. Barbados was the first British Colony to adopt a halfpenny rate.
Barbados 1881 formular postcard
Postcards were the first postal stationery to be introduced in Barbados in 1881. This was followed soon after, in 1882 by Envelopes,
Registered Letters (envelopes) and Newspaper Wrappers.
A crowned circle 'Paid at Barbadoes' handstamp was used between 17th February and 15th March 1893 due to a shortage of ½d stamps. It was also used
during a shortage of ¼d stamps between 23 January and 4 May 1896.
Philatelic Societies for Collectors of Barbados Stamps
British Caribbean Philatelic Study Group
The Society covers the following countries
in the British Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize (formerly British Honduras), Bermuda, British Virgin
Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana (formerly British
Guiana), Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent-Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands.
In addition they are also interested in Maritime Mail and British Post
Offices in and around the Caribbean.
British West Indies Study Circle
Promote interest in and
the study of the STAMPS and POSTAL HISTORY of the islands that comprise
the BRITISH WEST INDIES and in addition Bermuda, British Guiana
(Guyana) and British Honduras (Belize) and the Postal History and
Markings of other British interests in the Caribbean, and Central or
South America. The Study Circle holds regular meetings including a
week-end Convention every other year, publish a Quarterly Bulletin (in
colour) and actively publish Books & Monographs.
New Issues of Barbados Stamps
Get all the latest new issues and First
Day Covers direct from Barbados
Barbados Postal Service
The Barbados Philatelic Bureau
General Post Office
Cheapside, Bridgetown BB11000
Barbados, West Indies
Tel: 1-246-436-4800 Fax: 1-246-429-4118
A Selection of Links for Barbados Stamps and Barbados Postal History
The Crowned Circle Postmarks of the British West Indies
by Charles Freeland Crowned Circle handstamps were introduced to most of the British West Indies as a way to acknowledge the prepayment of postage before, or in some cases following, the introduction of adhesive stamps.
Charles Freeland introduces the topic with a range of examples in use throughout the British West Indies during the nineteenth century.
Notes from the Past - Barbados' First Stamps
Barbados was one of the first British Colonies to inaugurate postal
arrangements. Almost as soon as the original settlement took
place in 1624, mail service with England was organized....
Barbados Stamps and Postal History "The first attempt to establish a separate Inland Post Office in Barbados was made in 1840 and
was influenced by the introduction of the Penny Post in England in that year."
Books on Barbados Stamps & Barbados Postal History
Advanced Barbados Philately
by H F Deakin, published by British West Indies Study Circle,
1997and 2004, 26pp Many colour illustrations and
containing a good presentation of the early issues of this popular
Colony. The emphasis is on the items which were in the author’s
collection and there is much useful detail contained in the text.
Barbados, History of Airmail Flights 1929 to 1957
N C Baldwin, published by Francis Field Ltd, undated c1950, 6pp
Barbados Post Office Markings to 1981
by George Clarke, Reynold Radford & Stephen Cave, published by British West
Indies Study Circle, 1982, 71pp A carefully presented study of the postal markings of this popular area, fully illustrated in line drawings throughout, with plenty of
Barbados: A Study of the King George VI Postal Issues
by Frank R Saunders, Study paper no 12, published by King George VI Collectors Society, 1981, 93pp
The Post Office in Barbados
by Herbert H Bayley, published by Advocate Press, Bridgetown, 1933, 73pp The author is a collector who, not
content with the existing published information about the Post Office
of his country, set out to search the records, the result being given
in this book. One discovery of major importance
stands to Herbert Bayley’s credit, he established that the greyish
slate stamp of the first issue (the stamp that was bisected and used
for the penny rate in 1854) was intended for issue as a 2d.
The Postal Censorship in Barbados During the First and Second World Wars
by Anthony Shepherd, published by British West Indies Study Circle, 1984, 33pp
The Postal History of Barbados and Grenada
by Edward B Proud, published by Proud-Bailey Co Ltd, April 2006, 335 pp, ISBN 1872465420 General History of Barbados; Postal History of Barbados; Postal Rates of Barbados; Post
Offices and Postmarks of Barbados; Packet Agency Statistics;
The Postal Markings of Barbados
by Basil Benwell & Leonard E Britnor, published by British West Indies Study Circle, 1961, 29pp + 8pp supplement
The Stamps of Barbados
by Edmund A Bayley, 1989, 405pp Well researched and highly detailed study of the stamp issues with notes on proof material and Specimens
plus listings of postal stationery, revenues and forgeries.
The Stamps of Barbados with a History & Description of the Star-Watermarked Papers of Messrs Perkins Bacon & Co
by Bacon & Napier, published by Stanley Gibbons, 1896, 119pp
Articles in Magazines and Journals about Barbados Stamps and Barbados Postal History
June 1950 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly pp 114-5
STAMPS OF THE MONTH - 1950 PICTORIAL DEFINITIVES by Frederick Smale A detailed description and history of the designs of this issue.