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Caribbean island stamps and postal collectibles

The postage stamps of the Caribbean Islands include rare stamps, covers, and other philatelic items from the islands that make up the Caribbean. We have a full range of information about the stamps of the Caribbean.

How we classify Caribbean stamp-issuers

An overview of how we arrange the stamp-issuers of the Caribbean is below; check individual country/island pages for more details and further subcategories.

Subcategories

Traditionally, the Caribbean has been divided into three subcategories: the Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles (sometimes lumped together as simply the “Antilles”), and the Lucayan Archipelago. The UN Geoscheme does not use these but they can be useful distinctions.

The Greater Antilles

The Greater Antilles includes some large islands in the northwest Caribbean area, southeast of the US state of Florida. These include the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti (which share the island of Hispaniola), Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

The Lesser Antilles

The Lesser Antilles can be described as the “main chain” of Caribbean Islands, a line of small islands arcing from the Greater Antilles down to South America. The Lesser Antilles are often themselves split into three subgroups (Leeward Antilles, Leeward Islands, and Windward Islands).

The Lesser Antilles islands include the stamp-issuers of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda (who have issued stamps separately and together), Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis (also called St. Christopher and Nevis), Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (separately and together, and including several individual islands of the Grenadines), Trinidad and Tobago (separately and together), and both the British and United States Virgin Islands.

The Lucayan Archipelago

North of the Greater Antilles lies the Lucayan Archipelago, comprised of several islands that are split between two entities: the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, the former a member of the British Commonwealth and the latter a British overseas territory. The islands of the Lucayan Archipelago are sometimes classified as North American. The Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands have each issued their own stamps in the past.

A brief history of Caribbean stamps

Most Caribbean islands began their stamp histories while colonies of the British, Germans, French, or Dutch in the mid-1800s. For that reason, many of the earliest Caribbean postage stamps resemble the stamps of those European powers, or the typical colonial stamps thereof. There are some notable examples – Haiti, for example, had been independent from France long before it began issuing its own stamps.

Of interest to collectors are the groups of islands that are no longer grouped together, or former independent islands that have joined forces and now issue state-wide postage stamps. For example, “Curaçao” stamps used to be issued for a group of six islands collectively known as Curaçao and Dependencies; these islands now issue their own stamps, making the old “Curaçao” stamps very collectible. Going the opposite direction, the islands of Barbuda and Antigua used to each issue their own separate stamps; now they issue stamps inscribed “Antigua and Barbuda”.

Caribbean stamp collectibles today

In addition to the many interesting and collectible Caribbean stamps past and present, there have been a large number of special maximum cards, first day covers (FDCs), souvenir sheets and mini-sheets, and other special items issued mainly for the collectors’ market. Buyers also watch other sections closely, looking for unhinged (MNH) stamps, error stamps and misprints, full stamp sheets, interesting covers and postmarks, cinderella stamps, postage due stamps, and much more. Note that many of the islands that were British colonies during the first World War had war tax stamps issued as well. Finally, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States both use regular US stamps, but issued their own collectible postage stamps in the past.

The value of Caribbean stamps

The value of anything, of course, is equal to “how much someone will pay for it”. To get a general idea of the values, rarities, and histories of thousands of Caribbean (and worldwide) collectible postage stamps, refer to a popular stamp catalog like Stanley Gibbons or Scott.

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