Barbados - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile


Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean located northeast of Venezuela, is considered part of the Lesser Antilles. It is a small country with a total land area of 170 square miles and a population just below 300,000.  People from South America decent are known to have lived in the Islands as early as 400 BC. The Portuguese briefly occupied the area in the 15th Century and the natives ‘disappeared’ – some were used as slave laborers while others fled to neighboring islands. The island was uninhabited when the British came in 1627. Barbados has a well-developed economy with tourism and offshore finance as the mainstay. It is classified among the rich countries with purchasing power parity GDP of close to $20,000.

Travel Resources:

The famous, white, soft sandy beaches gang up with the cooling breeze, creating conditions just right for wind surfing and body surfing. For many, strolling along the white sands is a relaxing way to enjoy outdoors. Though considered as a year-round vacation destination the best time to visit is between November and May. Bridgetown is the main draw with a medley of clubs and resorts. Major attractions include the Barbados Museum, Botanical Gardens and the Flower Forest. Tours of rum factories and sugar plantations, and boat trips to the coral reefs and deep-sea fishing are very popular activities. The national dish is cou-cou (cornmeal and okra) and flying fish and the tourists get hooked on it quickly too. For the brave there is the Pudding and Souse, which is pig from head to toe, well almost!


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Barbados Travel Pack by Globetrotter Travel Packs978-1847733771$10Detailed regional profiles, essential area and transport maps, and best tour and excursion details.
Fodor’s in Focus Barbados & St. Lucia978-1400004669$9Good coverage with itineraries, experience, practical info, and detailed maps.
Barbados Travel Map by Globetrotter978-1847734174$9Scale – 1:41,000. Covers Barbados Island, Bridgetown, City Center, and Lesser Antilles.
Barbados Grounded Adapter Plug – GUAB001FDA79U$8
RentalsNAVariesSeveral reasonably priced accommodation options are available throughout the year through the Internet.


Philatelic Profile:

Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean located north-east of Venezuela and considered part of the Lesser Antilles is a small country with a total land area of 167 square miles and a population of just under 300,000. The first stamps of Barbados depict ‘Britannia’, a goddess first personified by the Romans and later became a figure of national personification in Great Britain. The set (Scott #1 to #4) was issued from 1852 to 1855 in four colors and denominations (1/2p deep blue, 1p dark blue, 2p slate blue, and 4p brown red). The set catalogs for around $250 MNH – a used copy of the set is not in existence as Scott #3 was never in circulation. The most valuable stamp among the first issues is MNH copy of the 1/2 p yellow green variety (Scott #1a) which fetch around $9000. Used examples of the 2p slate blue with the vertical half used as 1p on cover is also extremely scarce and valuable at around $8000. Different varieties of the ‘Britannia’ design continued until 1873 when a slightly altered design in the same theme replaced the original design. Scott #43 issued in this design is very valuable at around $1200 MNH and around $375 used – varieties of this stamp issued in 1878 with a 1p overprint on half of the 5sh stamps are even rarer and catalog in the $5000 to $20000 range for Mint (Scott #56 to #58). The ‘Britannia’ designs continued until 1882. Many of these stamps fetch upwards of $100.

Between 1882 and 1892, Barbados used a Queen Victoria (QV) Key Type and certain varieties with surcharge overprints. A set (Scott #60 to #68) of 9 stamps issued from 1882 to 1885 is valued at around $800 MNH and less than half that for used. Two other QV designs in the Badge of Colony theme in several denominations and varieties across four sets formed the primary stamp issue of Barbados between 1892 and 1905. Three of the sets (Scott #70 to #80, #81 to #89, and #90 to #101) catalog in the $250 range for either MNH or used. The fourth set (Scott #81 to #89) issued in 1897 is a variety in bluish paper. This set is even more scarce and catalog in the $1200 range for either MNH or used.

1906 saw the issue of a set (Scott #102 to #108) of stamps depicting the Lord Nelson monument in the capital city of Bridgetown, made famous by the fact that the statue erected in 1813 is older than the statue and square in London. The set catalogs for around $100 for either MNH or used. A sister set of three (Scott #110 to #112) released in 1907 catalogs in the $50 range for either MNH or used. In the interim, Barbados issued a stamp (Scott #109) depicting the “Olive Blossom” (the first English ship to land in Barbados) in a stunning tri-colored design to mark the tricentennial of the British arrival. The stamp is remarkably affordable at around $10 for MNH and less than 50c for used. The period from 1908 to 1918 saw two other sets – a set (Scott #116 to #126) of 11 stamps in three KGV (King George V) designs and a set (Scott #127 to #139) of 13 stamps in the Seal of the Colony design. The former set catalogs in the $250 range for either MNH or used. The latter set catalogs for around $150 MNH and more than double that for used. The Seal of the Colony theme along with several common design types dominated Barbados stamp issues till 1950. The Common Design issues are common but the Seal of the Colony issues are scarce especially in higher denominations. The victory set of 1920 (Scott #140 to #150) is also valuable at around $100 MNH and double that for used.

Other significant stamp issues of Barbados are:
  1. A set of 12 stamps (Scott #216 to #227) released on May 1, 1950 depicting local scenes of Barbados. The designs were 1c Dover Fort, 2c Sugar Cane Breeding, 3c Public Buildings, 4c Admiral Nelson Statue in Bridgetown, 6c Casting Net, 8c Schooner, 12c Flying Fish, 24c Old Main Guard Garrison, 48c Cathedral, 60c Careenage, $1.20 Map, and $2.40 Great Seal. The set catalogs for around $60 MNH and around $50 used.
  2. The Independence Set (Scott #290 to #293) released on December 2, 1966 to mark Barbados’ independence from the British November 30, 1966. The designs were 4c Arms of Barbados, 25c Hilton Hotel, 35c Gary Sobers (cricket captain), and 50c Pine Hill Diary. The set is very affordable at less than $5 for MNH or ued. Barbados Philatelic Bureau was formed in 1968. They have a quality policy of releasing less than seven commemorative issues yearly and a definitive issue every four to five years.
  3. A long set of sixteen stamps released May 4, 1970 (Scott #328 to #343) depicting local scenes focused on architecture & industry. The set is very affordable at less than $15 for MNH and less than $20 for used. The designs were 1c Lion at Gun, 2c Trafalgar Fountain, 3c Montefiore Drinking Fountain, 4c St. James Monument, 5c St. Ann’s Fort, 6c Old Sugar Mill, 8c Cenotaph, 10c South Point Lighthouse, 12c Barbados Museum, 15c Sharon Moravian Church, 25c George Washington House, 35c St. Nicholas Abbey, 50c Bowmanston Pumping Station, $1 Queen Elizabeth Hospital, $2.50 Modern Sugar Factory, and $5 Seawell International Airport. The set was reissued in glazed paper in 1971 and another reissue consisting of a subset of 13 stamps appeared in 1972. That set (Scott #331a to #343a) is more expensive and catalogs for around $50 for MNH or used.
  4. A long Birds set of eighteen stamps (Scott #495 to #511) released in 1979. The beautiful set catalogs for around $40 MNH and around $60 Used. The birds depicted are grass canaries, rain birds, sparrows, frigate birds, cattle egrets, green gaulins, hummingbirds, ground doves, blackbirds, green throated caribs, wood doves, ramiers, black breasted plower, yellow breasts, pee whistlers, christmas birds, kingfishers, and red-seal coot.
  5. A set of five stamps (Scott #856 to #860) released on January 11 1994 in the sports theme. The designs show cricket, motor racing, golf, 10K Barbados run, and swimming. The set is very affordable at around $10 for MNH or Used. A beautiful long ships set of fourteen stamps (Scott #872 to #885) was also released in the same year. That set catalogs in the $50 range for either MNH or used.
  6. A long Tourism set of fifteen stamps (Scott #982 to #995) released in the “Sites of Barbados” theme in 2000. The set catalogs for around $50 for MNH or Used. The designs were 5c Drax Hall House, 10c Reaping Sugar Cane, 40c Needham’s Point Lighthouse, 45c Port of St. Charles, 65c Synagogue, 70c Bridgetown port, 90c Harrison’s Cove, $1.15 Villa Nova, $1.40 Cricket at Kensington Oval, $1.75 Sunbury House, $2 Bethel Methodist Church, $3 Barbados Wildlife Reserve, $5 Royal Westmore Golf Course, and $10 Grantley Adams International Airport. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Barbados were bronze coins denominated in cents issued from 1973 onwards. The first coins are not especially valuable as the mintage is high and the same designs were reused for a number of years. Prior to this, currency of the British Caribbean Territories were used in Barbados. Unmarked side cut pieces of Spanish Colonial Reales along with Neptune tokens issued by Sir Phillip Gibbs were used in the 18th century. Other numismatic items of Barbados include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon Date UNCs and Proofs start around $2. Commemorative Silver proofs from the 90s onward start around $30. Gold proofs from the 90s onward trade at a good premium over bullion value.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon banknote UNCs start around $2. Recent UNC year sets start around $10. Specimens, scarce varieties, replacements etc start around $100.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Art, antiques and local handicrafts such as straw bags, wall hangings, batik, paintings and rum cake  are crowd pleasers in this category.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$10 and upPrints start around $10. Adrian Compton, Thomas McKnight serigraphs, and other signed works go into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and upMasks and other historical memorabilia.


Last Updated: 12/2015. 
 

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