Bahamas – The Romance of The Out Islands

18/12/2012     Bahamas

The Bahamas – not just an ideal holiday destination but also a Postal Historians dream, this widespread scattering of Islands discovered by Columbus in 1492 issued its first cancellation in 1802. Since then a wide range of postal markings have been employed, many with atmospheric names conjuring up images of privateers & buccaneers, ranging from those of the main Post Offices produced and shipped out from England, through to the locally produced temporary postmarks (TRD’s).

The outer islands range from small isolated communities, to large towns and even some unpopulated areas. The main island groups are Abaco, Andros, Acklins, Cat, Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island, and New Providence – the home of Nassau. Within each of these islands are numerous townships that had their own Post Offices, and the collecting of these small offices has been extremely popular for many years. Some intriguing names conjure up images of their origins and history with some markings being very rare.

Bannerman Town (Eleuthera Island) named after the1850’s Governor Sir Alexander Bannerman.

Cherokee Sound (Abaco Island) two theories, one named after a local cherry tree island (Cherry-Cay on old charts), the other that and old Indian woman settled there during the American Revolution; known by locals as The Place.

Deadmans Cay (Long Island) Not actually a Cay (Island) but an inland town, named from when the townspeople buried their dead on an offshore island nearby.

James’ Cistern (Eleuthera Island) Legend has it that the community of James Cistern was discovered by James, a ship captain whose ship ran aground on the jagged reef of the northern shores of James Cistern. It is said that he and his men found a hole from which he revived himself, therefore the community was named James Cistern. Even today, the drinking supply of James Cistern is supplied from this wonder of nature, called Ocean Hole.

Man-of-War Cay (Abaco Island) Known for its boat building history, dating back hundreds of years

Pirates Well (Mayaguana Island) The buccaneers that roamed here in the past dug this well for drinking and it gave the settlement its name.

Rum Cay Originally called Santa Maria de la Concepcion until a ship laden with rum wrecked close by and kegs of rum washed up on shore.

From about the 1920’s onwards, a few dedicated collectors arranged for philatelic covers to be sent to them from many of these small offices, and are highly sort after today, commercial mail being very scarce in many cases.

Sandafayre is offering a substantial collection of the island postmarks across the next few sales, assembled over several decades and including rare covers that graced the famous Luddington and “Staircase” collections, together with much else that has not seen the open market for 30+ years.


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