Barbados stamps: Seal of Colony 1892-1903

On September 23rd, 1891, Mr. C.C. Knollys, Colonial Secretary of Barbados, wrote to the Crown Agents stating:

It is the wish of this Government to substitute the Arms of Barbados for the Queen’s Head on the Postage Stamps of the Colony. 1 enclose several specimens of the Arms in question and shall be much obliged if you will kindly have designs drawn and submitted for approval, and also an estimate of the cost of engraving the dies.

If a new die be adopted could the present dies be sold for the use of some other Colony?

The Crown Agents forwarded the letter to the printers on October 8th, and on the 12th, they replied:

With reference to the letter returned herewith, we beg to enclose a design for a Key die and plate bearing the Colonial Arms in place of the Queen’s head, and trust that it will meet with approval. The design, being hand drawn, only crudely represents the effect we should obtain in the finished die. We have inserted the duty Id. to show the general effect...

We consider that in the long run it would be an economy for the Colony to adopt Stamps with the Colonial Arms, as they would not be liable to change. Of course the existing dies and plates could not be sold to any other Colony, as they bear the word “Barbados”.

The Colonial Secretary wrote again to the Crown Agents on November 21st:

In reply to your letter No. 192/982 enclosing a design from Messrs.

De La Rue and Co. for a new postage stamp, 1 beg to say that the design is very much admired and this Government wishes the necessary dies &c. to be proceeded with.

Overprint plates are required for the following values, eight in all, viz:- 1/2, 1d, 21/2d, 5d, 6d, 8d, 10d, 2s/6d

The colours we leave to Messrs. De La Rue and Co’s experience, but we wish the appearance of the Stamps to be as attractive as possible, and as they need only be printed in Singly Fugitive ink attractive colours can be used.

Other values of stamps we leave for future consideration, as there is a large stock in hand here.

The dies &c now in use should be preserved as hitherto for the present.

A Requisition for Stamps from the new dies will shortly follow.

I enclose the Specimens and design as requested.

We are very much obliged to you for the pains you have taken in this matter.

The first requisition, which was for each of the eight values referred to above, was forwarded by the Crown Agents to the printers on February 12th, 1892, with the request that they be furnished with the colour scheme which they proposed to adopt for the printing of the stamps. Considerable correspondence took place between the Crown Agents and the printers and several meetings were held, and final approval of the colour scheme did not take place until April 14th. The fact that of the eight duties ordered, the four higher values were printed in two colours was due to the Crown Agents.

The Key die, Key plate and overprint plates were made under Requisition No. 87/91 and the first printing of stamps was made under Requisition No. 15/92, and they were all invoiced on July 4th, 1892, and the stamps were despatched to the Colony. According to the Philatelic Record for August 1892, these eight values were put on sale between July 18th, and 21st, 1892.

At the request of the Crown Agents, the printers supplied a specimen of a 5/- stamp printed in the colours which they suggested, and this was approved by the Colonial Secretary of Barbados on August 4th, but he indicated that there was no need for such a denomination at that time.

On February 3rd, 1896, the Crown Agents asked Messrs. De La Rue & Co. to prepare specimens for a new One Farthing stamp, which was urgently required for the newspaper rate which had recently been introduced in the Colony. Three different shades of black were submitted, and one of them with a red overprint was approved by telegram on February 26th. The first consignment of these One Farthing stamps was printed under Requisition No. 4/1896 and these were invoiced on April 17th, and despatched to the Colony. This new value was issued on May 5th, 1896.

In 1899, the Colonial authorities decided to add a new stamp in the denomination of Two Pence, and on January 20th, the Crown Agents forwarded an order for 200,000 of them. By the accompanying letter, they stated:

The 2d stamp being a new duty an overprint plate to be made.

The Government notify that no more 2s/6d stamps will be required, and suggest that the new stamp should be printed in slate colour with the value in orange.

The firm asked to be excused from submitting a specimen, since the instruc­tions were so clear, and the first printing of this new denomination was carried out under Requisition No. 8/99 when 850 sheets were printed and invoiced on April 8th. and despatched to the Colony. This value was probably issued early in May of that same year.

In December 1902, a Requisition was sent off for 1,200 2/6 stamps, and this was forwarded by the Crown Agents to the printers on December 19th. The printers, having used the colours of the previous 2/6 stamps for printing the Two Pence stamps, had to change the colour of this new order for 2/6 stamps, and they decided to print them in the colours of violet and green. These stamps were printed under Requisition No. 134/02 when 1,200 were printed and invoiced on March 9th, 1903, and despatched to the Colony. This new stamp was issued on May 29th, 1903.

In 1904, the Crown Agents began to introduce new paper which had mul­tiple watermarks, and this is what is known as the “Multiple Crown & CA” paper. All printings of these stamps from 1904 onwards, were therefore on this new paper, and these are dealt with under Issue No. 19.

After December 31st, 1910, the Five Pence and Ten Pence denominations, for which there had been very little demand — there being only one printing on the paper watermarked Crown & CA — were withdrawn from sale and the remain­ing stock was destroyed on January 2nd, 1912. After 1910, no more Eight Pence stamps were sold by the Post Office, but the records seem to indicate that all stocks of this denomination were exhausted sometime during that year.

The remaining values were withdrawn from sale on July 22nd, 1912, and destroyed on August 14th, of the same year, but details of the quantity are not available.

Details of the quantity printed and despatched to the Colony are shown in the tables below.

1/4d Slate-Grey & Carmine (SG 105)

Reqn No. Invoice date Qty Notes
4/96 17/4/96 256 320
38/96 24/6/96 250 800
30/97 11/6/97 126 240
46/99 11/7/99 510 000
125/01 19/3/02 150 720
102/03 15/1/04 241 200
Total: 1 535 280

1/2d Dull Green (SG 106)

1d Carmine (SG 107)

2d Slate-Black & Orange (SG 108)

21/2d Ultramarine (SG 109)

5d Grey-Olive (SG 110)

6d Mauve & Carmine (SG 111)

8d Orange & Ultramarine (SG 112)

10d Dull Blue-Green @ Carmine (SG 113)

2/6 Blue-Black & Orange (SG 114)

2/6 Violet & Green (SG 115)


The follofing watermark varieties exist:

1/4d Slate-Grey & Carmine (SG 105w)

1/2d Dull Green (SG 106w)

2/6 Blue-Black & Orange (SG 114w)

Colour trials

Barbados 1892 Imperforate colour trial for unissued 3d., in grey and violet on unwatermarked wove paper. Sold at Grosvenor Auction in 2005 for ?100 plus buyer's premium

Barbados 1892 Imperforate colour trial for unissued 3d., in reddish violet and green (close to issued colours of the 2s.6d.) on unwatermarked wove paper. Sold at Grosvenor Auction in 2005 for ?100 plus buyer's premium


  1. The stamps of Barbados, Edmund A. Bayley, FRPSL, 1989