Collectors' Stamps from Barbados

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Outside the Caribbean, Barbados is known primarily as a vacation destination. But look beyond the beaches and resorts, and you'll find a country with a rich history and unique culture. The stamps of Barbados celebrate this culture equally alongside the island’s famous natural beauty. Looked at over time, Barbados’ stamps also provide a window into the forces that have shaped it.

History of Barbados

Barbados has been inhabited since as early as the 4th century AD. Portuguese and Spanish sailors were the first Europeans to visit the island, though it was the English who established the earliest longstanding settlement. The country emerged as one of the biggest producers of sugarcane in the region, leading to an influx of immigration as well as a boom for the Caribbean slave trade.

In 1966, Barbados became an independent state within the British Commonwealth. Today, it has a population of over 280,000 and enjoys relative stability and prosperity, with a strong economy based largely on tourism.

Stamps and Postal Systems in Barbados

An early postal outpost handling overseas mail was established by British authorities in Bridgetown in 1663. Postal markings were used within the island from the 1760s onward. Responsibility for internal mail was handed over to the Barbados legislature in 1851, and the island's first stamps were printed the following year. Barbados is unique among British colonies in that at no time did it use overprinted British stamps. Instead, it produced new issues based on the Britannia design shared by nearby Trinidad and Mauritius.

Barbados was the first colony to issue stamps in half-pence denominations, which was the initial rate for printed matter other than newspapers within the island. In 1858, the local Barbados post office obtained control over the British Packet Agency, necessitating the printing of new stamps in six pence and one-shilling denominations for overseas use.

Other notable early Barbados collectors’ stamps include the Queen Victoria issues of 1882. Postcards and other paid stationary were introduced into circulation around the same time, and in 1916 island authorities began using revenue stamps, some of which are highly sought after by collectors today.

Modern Developments

Barbados’ postal system was, from its founding, largely autonomous from Britain’s, so the country’s formal independence did little to change day-to-day operations. A special commemorative set of stamps was issued in 1966 showcasing various island landmarks and celebrities.

Barbados has produced more than 1000 stamps since 1892. Many of these are aimed at the collectors’ market and feature themes relevant to island life and culture.

Growing Your Collection With Apfelbaum, Inc.

We routinely have rare Barbados collectors’ stamps available for sale in our online store. Let us know if you’re looking for something in particular or need help evaluating a collection. Contact our office for assistance today.