In a huge improvement from the end of 2022, when you might recall the Pottery new issue set took over two months to reach me in the UK, this new set was with me within the week, with no delays at customs or sitting in a Royal Mail shed at Heathrow. Posted on 22nd May, which was the first day of issue for this set, the stamps arrived within the week and have been sitting on my desk, waiting for this review.
The set contains four values, as is typical for many Barbados stamp sets, and an accompanying First Day Cover. They were designed by Liz Vernon, printed by Cartor in sheets of 50, and perforated 13¾ x 14. The images and reference material for the creation of this set have been provided by the Central Bank of Barbados and the set commemorates the bank’s work and development over the last half-century.
The first, and smallest value in the set, is the 10c stamp which features Frank Collymmore Hall, a building that has inscribed in its steps the quote “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. The quote from Pablo Picasso is apt as the hall is a performing arts centre, named in honour of the Barbadian playwright Frank Collymore. Opened in September 1986, the hall is part of the Bank’s headquarters complex.
The second value, and one that is likely to see the biggest use is the 65c value highlighting Church Village Green. Again, part of the bank’s headquarters complex (if you zoom in you can see the headquarters building in the background). Church Village Green encompasses several features including a large lawn, outdoor amphitheatre, fish ponds and historic items of interest. Opened in 2014 it hosts concerts, fairs and many other community activities.
The $1.40 value, typically used for mail to the US and Canada, highlights the Exchange Interactive Centre which is what was previously the home of Harrison College. This building is now used as the Central Bank’s Museum of Barbados. Purchased in 2006, the building that had been used as a Masonic Hall for the best part of a century previously was converted over the next decade and reopened in 2016 as a permanent display of currency, commerce, trade, education and freemasonry.
The final, $2.20 top value in this set is the Tom Adams Financial Centre, the Bank’s headquarters. The building is named after Barbados’ second prime minister, (John Michael Geoffrey Manningham “Tom” Adams) who laid the cornerstone during the building’s construction. If you’ve ever visited Bridgetown you will have seen the building as it is the tallest building in the city and features some challenging architectural features, including a hollow square design supported by 12 cylindrical towers.
Finally, there is a First Day Cover that brings all the stamps together on a single cover, featuring the crest of the Central Bank and the Trident in the cancel.
Having shared the images a week or so ago, and having had time to study them whilst they have been sat on my desk in the interim, I’m conflicted by them. On the one hand, they are a perfectly suitable theme for a set, featuring one of the most important institutions on the island. On the other, the designs chosen are hardly likely to have relevance to people around the world. The two highest values, which will inevitably be sent overseas, have nothing on them to describe what they are other than they celebrate the Bank’s 50th Anniversary. One commentator, rather uncharitably, thought that at first sight, the $2.20 value was a car park and the 10c was simply a random set of steps. Furthermore, the litho-printing process has rendered the images rather fuzzy at first glance. Whilst the images may be recognisable locally, outside of Barbados I fear people are going to have trouble relating to the issue.
In fairness, stamp issues can’t be all things to all people and no matter which country’s output you review, there are always sets that appear better on the drawing board than in real life. This set may grow on me and I’m hoping that commentators on this, either below this article or on social media, may see something I don’t. Feel free to share your views below!