Barbados Stamps and Postal History

Barbados Stamps 1/- purple 1875-80 in a mint block of six

By the middle of the eighteenth century, Packet Agencies, which were sub¬offices of the General Post Office in London, were established in all of the islands to deal with the overseas mail; it was the usual practice for incoming letters to be collected personally at the Agent’s office. The Packet Agent was responsible for receiving the mail for the Admiralty Agent on the arrival of the Packet, check¬ing the contents against the letter bills and then collecting the amount due from the addressees before delivery.

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. This proposal was to use the mounted police force to take out the mail bags from Bridgetown to the District Police Stations, where people would call for their mail. Nothing came of this proposal. In 1845, two similar proposals were made which met with a similar fate.

It was not until the meeting of June 24th, 1851, that the Solicitor-General, the Honourable John Packer, introduced a bill for the establishment and manage¬ment of an Inland Post Office, which was duly passed and came into effect as from August 1st, 1851. Barbados thus became the second Colony in the British West Indies to set up its own Inland Postal Service, Trinidad being the first.

With the establishment of the Inland Post Office, it became necessary to have adhesive stamps to denote the prepayment of postage, and the first stamps which consisted of green ½d), blue (1d) and purple (2d - now known to be greyish-slate), were put on sale on April 15th, 1852. These were followed by a brownish-red (4d) early in 1855.

The Postmaster General in London naturally assumed that there would be no further need for a Packet Agent in Barbados when the Inland Post Office became operational, but the Barbados Government informed him that the Inland Post Office was solely for the delivery of local letters and that the Inland Post Office Act made no provision for collecting or recovering postage on letters com¬ing from abroad. Much correspondence passed between the British Government and the Colonial Government and in 1854 an Act was passed which sought to amalgamate the Packet Agency and the Inland Post Office, but it did not have the desired effect. All that the Act achieved was the transfer of the Packet Agent to duty at the Inland Post Office and the Deputy Postmaster became the Packet Agent. Overseas letters were still received first at the Packet Office, and sub¬sequently handed over to the Inland Postmaster for delivery and collection of the postage due. This unhappy state of affairs continued until 1858, when, with the demise of the Packet Agent, Mr. J. Gillbanks, the Postmaster General in London refused to appoint another Packet Agent. Thus the Inland Post Office was forced to take over the handling of the overseas mail, and it became possible for overseas postage to be prepaid by affixing adhesive postage stamps. For this purpose, a new SIX PENCE rose red and a ONE SHILLING black were issued in 1858. The actual date of issue was never recorded.

Although the prepayment of overseas postage by the use of adhesive postage stamps became possible in 1858, it did not become compulsory until August 22nd, 1861, on the passing of an Act entitled “AN ACT to amend the Post- office Acts, 1851 and 1854”.

The Postmasters in most of the other islands were allowed to use English stamps for overseas postage but not for local mails, and a supply of the Id, 2d, 4d, 6d, and 1/- denominations were sent out to such islands for that purpose between the years 1856 and 1858. These stamps were cancelled by a special obliterator which had also been sent out to the Colonies. Barbados, by this time had issued its own adhesive stamps, so that the English stamps were never allowed to be used in Barbados.

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After the conclusion of World War I, it was suggested by the Legislature that a Victory Issue be made. On February 12th, 1919, the suggestion was made that the One Penny War Tax stamps, plenty of which were on hand, be additionally overprinted “VICTORY”, but after considerable deliberation, it was decided to mark the event in a more fitting manner, and to issue a complete set from ¼d to 3s. Two rough designs were prepared by Mr. W.L. C.

Barbados 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria

Barbados 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria One penny Specimen Stamp

Her Majesty Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24th, 1819, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George III. She became Queen of England on June 20th, 1837, on the death of King William IV. In 1897, Barbados was among the very small number of British Colonies which commemorated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, with a special issue of postage stamps; the other countries being British Guiana, Canada, Leeward Islands, Mauritius and Newfoundland.

Barbados 1927 Tercentenary Of Settlement Stamp

Barbados 1927 Tercentenary Of Settlement Stamp overprinted Specimen

According to history, the first settlers arrived in Barbados on February 20th, 1627, in a vessel called the “William and John”, commanded by Captain Henry Powell, and entrenched themselves near the spot where the earlier English settlers had landed in 1625 when the Colony was annexed, and called their settlement James Town. This expedition had been fitted out by Sir William Courteen, a prote'ge' of the Duke of Marlborough, to whom James I had granted the island. In 1627, a new patent was issued by Charles I granting the island to James Hay, Earl of Carlisle.

Barbados 1906 Tercentenary Of Annexation Stamp

Barbados 1906 Tercentenary Of Annexation Stamp overprinted Specimen

In 1905, the correct date of the annexation of the Colony had not yet been determined, and it was mistakenly believed that the island was annexed in 1605, when the Olive Blossom landed at Barbados, and claimed it for King James I of England (see Chapter I.).

In order to commemorate the occasion, it was decided to issue a stamp in the denomination of One Penny. A contest was held for the best stamp design, and it was won by Lady Carter, wife of Sir Gilbert Carter, who was then Governor of the Island.

Barbados stamps: Seal of Colony 1892-1903

Barbados stamps: 1892 Imperforate colour trial for unissued 3d., in reddish violet and green

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?