20th September 2022 Bahamas 1860 to 1970 – Peter Fernbank

Bahamas issued its first stamp in 1859, a 1d value featuring the Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria. It was printed by Perkins Bacon but in 1862 the firm lost the printing contract to De La Rue and had to hand over their printing plates. A 4d and 6d value was added in 1862 and these three values were re-printed many times over the next 20 years.

In 1884 a new key and duty plates series, 1d to £1, was introduced and a hand painted essay, a key die proof and colour trials of the issue were displayed along with both UPU and locally overprinted Specimens.

In 1900 the Governor asked for a 1d stamp with a pictorial design of the Queen’s Staircase (a staircase cut from the virgin rock and a local landmark). Two hand-painted essays were shown accompanied by vignette die and plate proofs. The unusual method of producing the printing plates and how two significant varieties, the extra and half extra tree-trunk fresh entries, occurred was explained. Very scarce plate blocks from Plate 1 were shown. Five values of this design were produced, and the design remained in use until 1930.

 A new key plate design appeared in 1902 for the King Edward VII issue but the same set of duty plates used for the Victorian issue remained in use. The same design was used for the King George V series, again using the original duty plates. A new key Plate, Plate 2, was made in 1918 and used combined with Plate 1, producing the unusual format ‘Plate 1 & Plate 2 interpanneau’ examples. Various flaws developed on the QV duty plates and examples of the same flaw on the same value for the QV, KEVII and GV5 issue were displayed.

Commemorative issues for ‘Peace’ (1919) and the Tercentenary of the Colony (1930) were presented in blocks. An 8d stamp ‘flamingos in flight’ appeared in 1935 to prepay the airmail rate.

The new King George VI definitive issue was released in 1938, being very similar to the KGV issue. In 1942 the 450th Anniversary of the Landfall of Columbus was commemorated by overprinting the complete series, ½d to £1. In addition to the stamps, examples of the ‘Madame Joseph’ forgeries on this issue were also shown. First Day covers addressed to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were presented (the Duke was Governor of the Bahamas during WW2) as was a German propaganda issue overprinted ‘Liquidation of Empire’. In 1948 a pictorial issue, ½d to £1, commemorating the Tercentenary of the Settlement of the Island of Eleuthera was released.

The design of the first QEII issue (1954) was virtually identical to the Eleuthera issue. Stamp booklets (2s and 3s) were displayed in exploded form for the 1954 and 1965 issues along with coil join strips for five values. The 2s6d value of the 1965 issue was represented with vignette and border die proofs and a plate proof block of 4. In the years 1964 to 1967 the definitive issue, ½d to £1 (or 1c to $3), was changed four times! However, this was not a policy of exploiting philatelists; there were genuine reasons for their issue, (change of constitution, change of currency including interim surcharges).