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Resource Page for Collectors of Barbados Stamps and Postal History

Barbados Flag

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.

Barbados 3d brittania

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 packet 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.

Barbados 1873 Five Shilling
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
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

Barbados Philatelic Society 55c 1995

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

Barbados 1897 2/6d

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

Barbados Postal Rates to 1933
Based on information from "The Post Office in Barbados" by Herbert Bayley, 1933

What was commonplace in 1896 but a rarity now?
Barbados newspaper fragment from 1896 with the ‘Paid at Barbadoes’ Crowned Circle cancel.

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.

The Barbados stamps and covers discussion thread
from - Postage Stamp Chat Board & Stamp Bulletin Board Forum

Barbados Stamps
Online resource for collectors of Barbados stamps

Obituary | Edmund Bayley SCM, BJH, QC, FRPSL 1936 – 2019
Anyone who collects Barbados Stamps will know the name of Edmund Bayley, the most prolific and influential author in the history of Barbados philately.

International Postage Meter Stamp Catalog/Barbados
The first meter was installed in 1934. All stamps have “BARBADOS” in the frank.

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."

Barbados Britannias Part 1 - Vol 10 No 4, Jul/Aug 1959, page 140
Barbados Britannias Part 2 - Vol 10 No 5, Sep/Oct 1959, page 188
Barbados Britannias Part 3 - Vol 10 No 6, Nov/Dec 1959, page 212
Barbados Britannias Part 4 - Vol 11 No 1, Jan/Feb 1960, page 35
by Colin H Bayley, published in the Canadian Philatelist, journal of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada.
This article was published in four parts, in four different issues of the magazine. You will need to download pdf files of the complete magazines and go to the page number given with the link.

The 1882 Queen issues of Barbados Part 1 - Vol 12 No 1, Jan/Feb 1961, page 43
The 1882 Queen issues of Barbados Part 2 - Vol 12 No 2, Mar/Apr 1961, pages 65 & 105
by Colin H Bayley, published in the Canadian Philatlist, journal of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada

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 background information.

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; Bibliography

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
A detailed description and history of the designs of this issue.