General issues: Antigua/Presidency Leeward Islands 1862-1956, West Indies Federation 1958-1962, British colony 1962-1967, Associated state 1967-1981, Antigua & Barbuda/Independent within the British Commonwealth 1981-Present
Country name on general issues: Antigua, Antigua & Barbuda
Special issues: Regional issues Barbuda 1922, Barbuda 1968-2000, Redonda 1979-1991
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1862-1951, 1 Dollar=100 Cent 1951-Present
Population: 35 000 in 1901, 89 900 in 2013
Political history Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda is a group of islands located in the Caribbean as part of the Lesser Antilles – for the exact location, please refer to the map of the Caribbean. Prior to colonization, the islands were inhabited by the Amerindian Carib people – a people found on many of the Lesser Antilles. The first European to sight the islands was Christopher Columbus in 1493. The British were the first to establish a permanent settlement on Antigua in 1632. Barbuda was, subsequently, settled in 1678. The islands were, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, disputed between France and Great Britain, but, eventually, British sovereignty was recognized. Redonda was annexed by the British in 1868.
From the 17th until the 20th century, the islands were administered as part of the Leeward Islands colony – the federal colony that grouped together the British possessions in the Leeward Islands. Antigua was the seat of the governor of the Leeward Islands and the headquarters of the British Royal Navy fleet in the Caribbean. In 1871, Antigua was formally designated as a presidency of the Leeward Islands colony with Barbuda and Redonda as dependencies. When the Leeward Islands colony was dissolved in 1956, the presidency of Antigua became the colony of Antigua. As such, between 1958 and 1962, it joined the West Indies Federation – the short lived federation of most of the British possessions in the Caribbean. In 1967, Antigua became an associated state and became self governing. Independence within the British Commonwealth was gained in 1981 as Antigua & Barbuda.
Economically, Antigua was developed as a plantations economy with, from the late 17th century, sugar cane as its most important crop. To man the plantations, slaves were brought to the island and they would soon be the majority of the population. Barbuda was developed to raise provisions for the plantations on Antigua. Redonda never had a permanent population. In the late 19th century, workers, temporarily, settled on Redonda to mine the guano found on the island. Because of the abolition of slavery in 1834, increased competition from other countries, and decreasing sugar prices, sugar cane went into decline in the second part of the 19th century. In the 20th century tourism was developed as the mainstay of the economy – tourism currently accounts for 60% of the GDP. On the United Nations Human Development Index, Antigua & Barbuda ranks as a High Development country. The majority of the population is black – 87%.
Postal history Antigua & Barbuda
The first stamps used were the general issues of Great Britain, between 1858 and 1860. Antigua issued its first stamps in 1862 – showing the portrait of Queen Victoria in a design specific for Antigua. Issues, from 1879, also show the portrait of Queen Victoria – now in a design common to the British colonies. In 1890, the issues of Antigua were superseded by the issues of the Leeward Islands that were used exclusively until 1903. In 1903, Antigua resumed issuing stamps – these were used concurrent with the issues of the Leeward Islands until 1956. In the classical period, Antigua issued a limited number of stamps of designs specific for Antigua, but in a style common to the British colonies. Antigua joined in a number of the omnibus issues for the British colonies. In the modern era, Antigua issued large numbers of stamps with themes aimed at the thematic collectors market. The issues are, until 1981, inscribed ‘Antigua’ and since then ‘Antigua & Barbuda’.
Stamps were issued for Barbuda in 1922 – stamps of the Leeward Islands overprinted ‘Barbuda’. The issue was withdrawn in 1924. Stamps for Barbuda were again issued between 1967 and 2000 – large numbers of stamps solely aimed at the thematic collectors market. These issues were inscribed ‘Barbuda’ or stamps of Antigua overprinted ‘Barbuda’ or ‘Barbuda Mail’. Between 1979 and 1991 stamps were issued for Redonda – again: stamps inscribed ‘Redonda’ or stamps of Antigua overprinted ‘Redonda’. Please note that on Barbuda there is only one town with a population of around 1 000 and that Redonda is uninhabited.Scott does not list the issues for Redonda and Stanley Gibbons lists the Redonda issues in the Appendix.