Barbados: Victory

Barbados was one of only a few British colonies to issue stamps commemorating victory after World War I. It was originally proposed to overprint unused 1d War Tax stamps but it was generally felt that a dedicated issue would be more befitting of the event. Based on designs refined by the printers De La Rue, eleven denominations were issued on 9 September 1920 ranging form ¼d to 3s and are regarded as one of the finest postage stamp issues of the era.

The issue comprised two designs, one being used for denominations of ¼d to 6d and the other for denomination of 1s to 3s and were printed on Multiple Crown CA watermark paper:

  • ¼d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Bistre-Brown]
  • ½d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Bright Yellow-Green]
  • 1d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Vermillion]
  • 2d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Grey]
  • 2½d Victory (Greek goddess) [Indigo & Ultramarine]
  • 3d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Purple]
  • 4d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Blue-Green]
  • 6d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Brown-Orange]
  • 1s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Bright Green]
  • 2s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Brown]
  • 3s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Dull Orange]
Barbados 1920 2½d stamp Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 2½d Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 3d stamp Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 3d Victory (Greek goddess)

The lower denomination design is believed to be based on the Winged Victory of Samothrace, an ancient statue held at the Louvre in Paris. The marble statue depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and is a masterpiece of Greek sculpture dating from the beginning of the 2nd century BC. Given that the statue is missing its head and arms, a certain degree of poetic license was clearly required. The higher denomination design is a little more easily recognised depiction of the Roman goddess of Victory, inspired by the figure that appears in a four-horsed chariot atop Wellington Arch in London.

Barbados 1920 3s stamp Victory (Roman goddess)
Barbados 1920 3s Victory (Roman goddess)

For the collector, there are multiple variations in the set, notably of inverted, reversed and missing character watermarks. Demand for the stamps was high and supplies of the 1d in particular was so strong that it was reissued on 22 August 1921, this time on Multiple Script CA watermark paper.

100 years later in 2021, Barbados hit the headlines when an amendment to the Constitution was passed by the government, introducing the office of the President of Barbados to replace the role of Elizabeth II as monarch. Barbados became a republic and the incumbent Governor-General of Barbados, Sandra Mason, was nominated to be the first President of Barbados.

To view postal issues of Barbados, 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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