The Pictorial Issue of King George V Bermuda Stamps

On April 14th, 1936, Bermuda followed the example of many other British Colonies by issuing a series of pictorial stamps. The series consisted of nine values from ½d. to 1/6d., recess printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. in double plates of 60 stamps each, divided after printing into sheets of 60 in ten rows of six. The ½d., 2d., 6d. and 1/6d., which did not incorporate a portrait of King George V, remained in use throughout the reign of King George VI, the 2d. however in new colours, and numerous printings of these values were made, including new plates for the and 6d. The first plates of all values did not have plate numbers, but have the printer’s imprint “BRADBURY, WILKINSON & CO. LD. ENGRAVERS, NEW MALDEN, SURREY, ENGLAND” in the sheet margin below the 57th and 58th stamps, in the colour of the frame on stamps printed in two colours. The second plates of the ½d. and 6d. have both plate numbers and a similar imprint which, however, omits the word “ENGRAVERS”, as do all plates made for the King George VI issue. The watermark is Multiple Crown and Script CA, and the perforation is 12 single line, with the exception of the 6d. which appeared after 1951 perforated 12 x 11.75 comb, the bottom margin of the sheet being without vertical rows of perforation. Details of each value are given below.

½d. and 1/6d. View of Hamilton from Red Hole, Paget, from a photograph by Walter Rutherford. Watermark sideways, top to the right. Perforated 12 single line. The ½d. Plates 1 and 1A with complete imprint but no plate numbers, was issued on April 14th, 1936, in shades of both bright green and green. It was reprinted without change in 1940, March 1943 and April 1944, but appeared on September 10th, 1945, in bluish-green. New printings in December 1946, November 1947 and November 1948 continued to be as the 1945 printing. In the printing which appeared in January 1950, released in London by the Crown Agents on February 15th, the colour remained as before, but a new double plate was first used, inscribed “2” or “2A” below the 59th stamp, and with the abbreviated imprint below the 57th and 58th stamps. The next two printings, which appeared on April 11th, 1950, and January 29th, 1952, were in a brighter bluish-green, and the final printing of December 10th, 1952, was in a deeper bluish-green.

The 1/6d., originally intended for the proposed air mail rate to England which never materialized, was actually used for parcel post and for double rate air mail letters to the United States. It was first issued on April 14th, 1936, and reprinted in July 1942, March 1943 and October 1950 with practically no variation in shade. The printings which appeared on July 2nd, 1951, and September 23rd, 1952, are in a deeper brown, but the final printing, issued on April 16th, 1953, reverted to brown. Only one double plate was made for the l/6d., and neither this value nor the ½d. ever appeared perforated by comb machines.

1d. and 1½d. South Shore in Warwick Parish, from a photograph, with a portrait of King George V in the upper right corner. An unpopular design which was changed for the King George VI issue. The Id. is found in black and slight shades of scarlet, and the 1½d. in black and chocolate. The watermark is sideways with the top to the right.

2d. Six-meter class Bermuda rigged yacht “Lucie” owned by Mr. Briggs S. Cunningham of Saltport, Connecticut. Through some error, the photograph of the “Lucie” was substituted for one of the “Viking”, a similar yacht owned by Mr. Kenneth Trimmingham of Bermuda, which had been chosen for the stamp. First issued on April 14th, 1936, in black and pale blue, the design was retained throughout the reign of King George VI, but with two changes of colour, described in the next chapter. Very slight shifted transfers occur in the seahorses on some stamps. On the left plate No. 34 shows shifts in both sea horses and Nos. 43 and 47 in the right seahorse. On the right plate Nos. 25, 37 and 50 have shifts in the right seahorse and Nos. 49 and 51 in the left.

2½d. and 1/-. Grape Bay, South Shore, Paget Parish, from a photograph by Walter Rutherford, with a portrait of King George V in the upper right corner. The 2½d. is in light blue and deep blue and the 1/-, a single colour stamp, is in green. There are no shades. The same design, with the portrait changed, was used for these denominations in the King George VI issue.

3d. The buttery, Point House, Warwick Parish, seen through a Chinese moon gate, adapted from a photograph by Walter Rutherford. Although the buttery itself is typical of Bermuda archi-tecture, the inclusion of the moon gate as a frame, though artistic, was not considered appropriate, and a new design was chosen for the 3d. of the King George VI issue. The watermark is sideways, with the top to the right. The colours, black and scarlet, show only very slight variations in shade.

6d. The gardener’s cottage, “Par-La-Ville”, Hamilton, from a photograph by Walter Ruther-ford. “Par-La-Ville”, now the Public Library, was built and owned for many years by William B. Perot and the gardens are now a public park. The design remained in use from April 14th. 1936. to November 8th, 1953. Until the printing of 1951, the stamps were perforated 12 single line, but this and later printings were perforated 12 x 11.75 comb. The original plates with the complete imprint and no plate numbers also remained in use until 1951, when a new double plate for the vignette appeared, inscribed “2” or “2A” below No. 60, which was used with the original frame plates. The final printing of September 1952 was also from new frame plates, with the short imprint and plate No. “2” or “2A” below the 59th stamp.

Ten printings were made between 1936 and 1952, some of which show marked shades. They are as follows: carmine lake and violet, issued April 14th, 1936; carmine lake and deep violet with cream-coloured gum, issued in 1940; rose-lake and violet on thinner paper with clear gum, both colours lighter and brighter, released in London in July 1942; claret and deep dull violet, London March 5th, 1943, and London June 1947; bright claret and deep violet, London February 1948; again claret and deep dull violet, London November 1948; claret and violet on tinted paper, the first printing perforated comb and with vignette Plates 2 and 2A, issued in May 1951 (London July 2nd); deep carmine lake and deep violet, issued January 1952 (London January 29th); deep claret and deep violet, with frame Plates 2 and 2A, issued September 1952 (London September 23rd’.

The specimen stamps are as issued with the word “SPECIMEN” perforated in a semicircle.


  1. The Postal History and Stamps of Bermuda, M.H. Ludington, 1978