Jamaica - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Jamaica, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea, ninety miles south of Cuba has a total land area of 4244 square miles and a population of around 2.85 million. Jamaica was a British colony until its independence in 1962. As a nation they are a force to reckon with in sports (track and field) and music (reggae). Despite the recent economic slump its economy is recovering well. The major sectors of the Jamaican economy are tourism, agriculture, music, mining, and financial and insurance services. It is the fifth largest exporter of bauxite and its agricultural exports are sugar, bananas, coffee, and yams.

Travel Resources:

As the climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather December to April or the winter season is the best time to visit this large island in the Caribbean. Though there are several tourist attractions scattered across the country, given the security concerns, most visitors venture out only as far as Dunn's River Falls in St. Ann, or the YS Falls in St. Elizabeth. Ackee and saltfish is considered the national dish of the country. Jamaican jerks are also quite popular with locals and visitors.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
The Rough Guide to Jamaica978-1848365131$14The best overall guide for visitors wanting to explore more than the tourist areas.
Jamaica by International Travel maps978-1553412625$101:250,000 scale. Includes maps of Kingston and Portmore, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Mandeville, and Spanish Town.
Jamaica Grounded Adapter Plug – GUAB001FD7AHM$8
Other Travel ResourcesNAVaries


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Jamaica were a set of six stamps released between 1860 and 1863 showing Queen Victoria (QV). Each stamp in the set (Scott #1 to #6) catalog for upward of $100.  This was followed by another set of six stamps released between 1870 and 1871. That set (Scott #7 to #12) is also very valuable cataloging for around $540 mint and $40 used. The QV theme continued until the turn of the century. The first original issue was a stamp released on May 1, 1900 featuring Llandovery Falls. The stamp (Scott #31) is inexpensive and catalogs for around $4 mint and less than a dollar for used. A variety in red and black released on September 25, 1901 is valued around the same. Jamaica released a set of four stamps between 1903 and 1904 in the Coat of Arms theme. The set (Scott #33 to #36) catalogs for around $25 mint and $30 used.

Jamaica released a long set of twelve stamps between 1919 and 1931 showing King George V (KGV) and Local Scenes. The set (Scott #75 to #87) catalogs for around $215 mint and $420 used. The designs show Buildings of the Great Exhibition of Jamaica (1891), Arawak woman preparing cassava, World War I contingent embarking for overseas duty, King’s House in Spanish Town, return of overseas contingent after the war, Columbus landing in Jamaica, Cathedral in Spanish Town, Statue of Queen Victoria, Memorial to Admiral Rodney, Monument to Sir Charles Metcalfe, Woodland Scene, and King George V.

Other issues of Jamaica enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A long set of thirteen stamps released between 1938 and 1951 showing King George VI (KGVI) and Local Scenes. The set (Scott #116 to #128) catalogs for around $80 MNH and $22 used. The designs show KGVI, coco palms at Columbus Cove, scene near Castleton at Saint Andrew, bananas, citrus grove, Priestman’s River at Portland Parish, Kingston Harbor, sugar industry, bamboo walk, and woodland scene. In the early 19th century, Jamaica was one of the world’s leading sugar exporters, but the industry was dependent on cheap labor from slave trade. Currently, tourism and mining are the leading economic sectors.
  2. A long set of sixteen stamps released in 1956 showing Queen Elizabeth II and local scenes. The set (Scott #159 to #174) catalogs for around $70 MNH and $45 used. The designs show palm trees, Blue Mountain, Arms of Jamaica, sugar cane, pineapple, banana, mahoe flower, breadfruit, ackee fruit, streamer (hummingbird), Royal Botanic Gardens at Hope, rafting on the Rio Grande, and Fort Charles. Blue Mountain is the longest mountain range in the Caribbean and is a dominant land form in Jamaica covering one-third of the total land area. The upper slopes are forest reserves while the lower slopes are used for cultivation – the namesake Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is from the area.
  3. A set of four stamps released on August 8, 1962 to mark Jamaican Independence. The set (Scott #181 to #184) catalogs for around $6 MNH and $5 used. The designs show Zouave Bugler and Map of Jamaica, Gordon House and Hands of three races holding banner, and map and symbols of agriculture and industry. Independence form the United Kingdom was achieved on August 6th 1962.
  4. A set of seven stamps and a souvenir sheet released on October 20, 1981 showing portraits of Bob Marley and certain song titles. The set (Scott #512 to #519) catalogs for around $30 MNH or used. Bob Marley, the reggae musician was from Jamaica. He died fighting cancer on May 11, 1981 at 36 years of age. These postage stamps were issued on his honor.
  5. A set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet released on October 22, 1984 showing Jamaican Boas. The set (Scott #591 to #594 and #594a) catalogs for around $75 MH and $30 used. The designs show head of boa, boa over water, boa with young, and boa on branch. Jamaican boas are a threatened non-venomous boa species found in Jamaica.
  6. A set of three stamps and a souvenir sheet of four in the Tourism theme released on September 7, 1994. The set (Scott #815 to #817 and #818a-d) catalogs for around $15 MNH and $12 used. The designs on the set show a painting of Royal Botanical Gardens by Sidney McClaren, Blue Mountains, coffee beans, and leaves, and woman in hammock and waterfalls. The designs on the souvenir sheet show flowers and birds, diver, vegetation, coastline, guide, and tourists on raft. Botanical gardens are a popular tourist attraction in Jamaica as many were established in the 19th century by the British. Sidney McClaren is a famous self-taught Jamaican painter who started painting at almost 70 years of age and went on to earn the nickname ‘The Grandpa Moses of Jamaica’. Traditional bamboo rafting on Jamaican rivers is another popular tourist attraction.
Numismatic Profile:

Pound Sterling (4 Farthings = 1 Penny, 12 Pence = 1 Shilling, 8 Reales = 6 Shillings, 8 Pence) was introduced as the coinage of Jamaica in 1825. Prior to this, counter stamped Spanish Milled Coinage introduced in 1758 along with private token coinage was prevalent. Counter-marked Spanish Coins of Jamaica also included Gold Coins which are rare. Other than that, the first gold coins were issued as commemoratives in 1972. Some of the issues have very low mintage but remarkably sell for a slight premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of Jamaica include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs from the 1960s onward starts around $1. Proofs from the 1970s onward starts around $5. Proof sets from the 1970s, Silver Proofs, etc start around $25. Silver proofs from the 1980s onward start around $50 and sets start around $75. Low mintage commemorative silver proof sets and gold coins go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon Jamaican Dollars in UNC start around $1. High Values start around $10. Shilling banknotes from the 1950s in VF starts around $50. Specimen dollars from the 1970s in VF and other scarce banknotes go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Canned ackee, rum, and jerks are the main food buys of its visitors. Water color, art and antiques are also sought after items.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$15 and upLocal scenes posters start around $15. Signed original art by Captain Gayle, Muriel Jane Chandler, Errorl Allen, J. Catlin, Abenda Spencer, Peter Max, Eric Smith, Bob Marley Oil Paintings etc start around $50 and go well into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and upMaps and manuscripts from the 19th century start around $10. 18th century and prior maps start around $50 and go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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