Collectors’ Stamps From the Bahamas

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The sunny, tropical Bahamas are a prime vacation destination for many. Beyond the resorts and the beaches, however, is a rich and unique history. A former British colony, the Bahamas became self-governing in 1964 and only attained full independence in 1973. However, its postal history stretches back far longer. Today, a number of Bahamas collectors’ stamps are highly sought-after and routinely fetch high prices at auction.

The Bahamas’ Postal History

The Bahamas stretches out across more than 700 islands and cays, of which around 30 are inhabited. As such, effective mail delivery has long been a requirement in the region – the earliest letters, some of which date back to the 1760s, were sent by private courier. By the turn of the 19th century, delivery routes were formalized and a special straight-line handstamp was introduced to simplify postage.

British stamps were introduced to the islands in 1858, with a special A05 cancellation used at the Nassau post office. Not long after, in 1859, Bahamian postal authorities began printing their own stamps for local use. These featured a portrait of Queen Victoria alongside a pineapple and conch shell – two of the island’s most iconic symbols – and the inscription INTERINSULAR POSTAGE. Today, these Queen Victoria issues are among the most expensive Bahamas collectors’ stamps.

The Post Office at the Bottom of the Sea

One of the more interesting facets of the Bahamas’ postal history was the brief life of the Sea Floor post office, which operated from 1939 to 1940. By this point, the Bahamas was already a popular tourist destination, and one of the main attractions was a submarine station used to film underwater movie scenes. Tourists could visit the station and, as part of the experience, send a postcard home with a special SEA FLOOR cancellation.

Today, the Sea Floor post office retains a special place in the history of Bahamian philately – stamps with this cancellation are valued by collectors, and the station itself was commemorated in a 1965 definitive issue.

The Collector’s Outlook for Rare Bahama Stamps

There’s a lot to explore when it comes to the rare stamps of the Bahamas. Many attractive pictorial issues – including a 1935 stamp of flamingoes in flight and the 1939 sea garden issues, which are thought to be the first stamp depicting an underwater scene – have been released. Add to that the fact that, as a former British colony, the country has natural philatelic interest, and it’s no surprise that the market for rare Bahamas stamps remains strong today.

Looking to buy rare Bahamas stamps? Apfelbaum can help. We routinely have collectors’ Bahamas stamps for sale in our online store and buy-it-now sales. Browse our website to learn more or, better yet, contact our office directly to speak with one of our in-house experts.