Bahamas: The Interinsular Stamp

The Bahamas post office became independent in 1859 following the publication of a report by the English novelist and civil servant, Anthony Trollope. The first distinctive stamp issue clearly identified that the mail posted externally from the Bahamas remained under the control of London. Despite full independence postal services just a year later, the ‘intersecular’ stamp remarkably remained in service for 25 years.

The first adhesive stamps to be used in the Bahamas were contemporary British stamps that were first distributed to the colony in 1858. These comprised 1d, 2d, 4d, 6d and 1s stamps. These stamps can be distinguished from stamps used in the British Isles by the oval obliterator with the digits A05 assigned to Nassau, the capital and largest city of The Bahamas.

In 1858, the celebrated novelist Anthony Trollope visited the West Indies as a surveyor for the Post Office. It is understood that he disliked his work at the Post Office and acquired a reputation for unpunctuality and insubordination. However, it was Trollope that recommended that many of islands of the West Indies be given responsibility for their own postal affairs. As a result, the Bahamas post office became independent in 1859 and the first issue of distinctive stamps were produce on 10th June of that year.

The stamp featured the Edward Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria, an image of a pineapple to the lower left and a conch shell in the lower right. The 1d denominated stamp was inscribed ‘INTERINSULAR POSTAGE’ denoting the fact that mail posted externally from the Bahamas remained under the control of London until May 1860 – whereupon the use of British stamps ceased. However, use of the interinsular stamp continued.

Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues

Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues
Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues
Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues

The first interinsular stamp was recess printed by Perkins Bacon of London and was first released imperforate on unwatermarked paper. The philatelist will find many various shades and paper thicknesses and in October 1860, the first perforated varieties were issued of varying gauges. In 1862, responsibility for printing was transferred to De La Rue of London. These issues can be distinguished from earlier issues by the lower gauge perforations. Between 1863 and 1882, the distinctive Crown CC watermark was introduced, later transitioning to the Crown CA watermark until 1884 when the interinsular stamp supplies were exhausted.

To view postal issues of Bahamas, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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