Netherlands Antilles: An Iconic Issue

The Netherlands Antilles (Dutch Antilles) is a former constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising several islands located in the Caribbean. Formally, the country came into being on 15 December 1954 as the autonomous successor of the Dutch colony of Curaçao. However, postage stamp issues were inscribed ‘Netherlands Antilles’ from 1948 with the first such issue being a postage due set. Prior to 1948, issues were inscribed ‘Curaçao’ but included the postal interests of all the constituent islands including the Leeward Islands of St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten as well as Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao off the northern coast of Venezuela.

Netherlands Antilles 1942 1c stamp featuring image of Bonaire
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1c featuring image of Bonaire
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1½c stamp featuring image of St. Eustatius
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1½c featuring image of St. Eustatius

The islands are each represented in the iconic issue of 1942. The issue comprises six denominations from 1c to 6c each bi-coloured and each featuring the portrait of Queen Wilhelmina.

  • 1c red-brown and violet [Bonaire]
  • 1½c yellow-green and blue [St. Eustatius]
  • 2c red-brown and grey-black [Saba]
  • 2½c yellow and green [St. Maarten]
  • 5c grey-black and carmine [Aruba]
  • 6c blue and purple [Curaçao]
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2c stamp featuring image of Saba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2c featuring image of Saba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2½c stamp featuring image of St. Maarten
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2½c featuring image of St. Maarten

The stamp issue was immediately preceded by a set of 15 airmail stamps in October 1942 that are often associated with the definitive set. These too were bi-coloured designs showing airplanes, maps, and scenery in various combinations, with denominations ranging from 10c to 10g.

Netherlands Antilles 1942 5c stamp featuring image of Aruba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 5c featuring image of Aruba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 6c stamp featuring image of Curaçao
Netherlands Antilles 1942 6c featuring image of Curaçao

These postage stamps were issued during a period of dramatic change as a result of World War II. During the war, and with the consent of the Dutch government, British and American troops had occupied the islands which led to increasing demands for autonomy within the population. In a 1942 speech, Queen Wilhelmina had promised to offer autonomy to the overseas territories of the Netherlands. On 15 December 1954, the Netherlands Antilles acceded as equal partners to an overarching Kingdom of the Netherlands and became a self governing territory.

Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a serrate autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986. The country of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010 although the island territories remain part of the kingdom with locally subscribed legal status.

To view postal issues of the Netherlands Antilles, 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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