3/ Seal of the Colony Issue

Updated - July, 2018
Thanks to John Cruttenden and Barry Moerke for their help with this article.

The Bahamas Seal of the Colony 3/ issues were initially part of the Tercentenary Set, but then were modified to replace the Queen's Staircase 3/ values.

Identifying the Bahamas Seal of the Colony issues is a matter of determining the difference between the initial design and the modified version; then sorting by paper and gum and finally sorting the color shades. All of the stamps were printed on paper watermarked Multiple Script CA, so that is not a factor in sorting these stamps. This stamps were in use from 1930 until 1951 and ultimately were replaced by the first QEII set.

Most collectors can easily see the difference between the two designs. The initial version of the stamp has three dates under Bahamas. The dates were the initial settlement date in 1629, the Representative Assembly date in 1729, and the anniversary year of 1929. The set was issued in January, 1930 - right after the collapse of the stock market, and only 10,303 sets were sold (according to the Commonwealth Five Reigns Catalogue).

Remainders of the Tercentenary set were destroyed, but new 3/ stamps without the dates were ordered. These went on sale in 1931 and continued with multiple printings until the final printing in 1951. The catalogues list the iterations in several ways, so I am showing all of the 3/ stamps together to help you sort them.

After you sort the design, look at the paper and gum as seen from the back of the stamp. There are two variations. The earlier versions of these stamps were printed on paper that appears thicker and has white or yellowish gum that typically has some cracks in it. These were printed in the 1930's under King George V's reign. The later versions appear thinner and tend to have whiter flatter appearing gum. These stamps were printed under King George VI's reign, and include the Landfall overprint set. So if you can't figure out the paper and gum, look at any of the Landfall issues as a reference of the later issues. The best way to see this is to look at the back of the stamps against black paper. The two options are shown below, but scanners do not make the difference stand out like it does when you view it. You should also note that there are variations to the colors of these stamps, so don't be surprised to find more candidates with subtle variation than listed printings.

The catalog numbers are from the 1980 Commonwealth Five Reigns Catalogue (CW) for the King George V issues, the 2008 King George VI Commonwealth Catalogue 19th Edition for the King George VI issues, 2011 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue (SG) and the 2011 Scott catalog (ST). The description is from the Commonwealth Catalogue. Please contact Bridger & Kay to obtain a copy of this publication.

In addition to the catalogue listings, there is information available from the tables produced by Potter & Shelton in their book "The Printings of King George VI Colonial Stamps" which was printed in 1951 by Stamp Collecting Ltd. Their table adds three additional 3/ value to the original series, 1944, 1950 and 1951 printings, and one more to the Landfall set, a 1943 printing. This is listed below integrated with the CW listings. Although the original 3/ values were overprinted for the 1942 Landfall set, Potter & Shelton indicate that the shades do not match up between the original issues and the overprinted ones. My guess is that this is because the stamps that were overprinted went to the Bahamas, so they might have been altered due to local humidity and temperatures.

The images were saved in a larger size and at a higher resolution so you can more easily see the details used in sorting them. Please be patient if it takes a few minutes for this page to load. You should also note that colors shown on the internet are not exact, so use the colors shown in reference to each other rather than as an exact match.

Initial printing from Tercentenary Set
CW G98 - SG 130 - ST 89
3/ Black & Green
King George V era paper and gum
Yellowish gum on thicker paper
Cracks sometimes appear in the gum
King George V era stamps - Listed by Commonwealth Five Reigns Catalogue
CW G103 - SG 132 - ST 91
3/ Black & Green
CW G104 - SG 132 - ST 91
3/ Grey-Black & Green
CW G105 - SG 132 - ST 91
3/ Slate-Black & Green
CW G106 - SG 132 - ST 91
3/ Grey-Black & Deep Yellow-Green
King George VI era paper and gum
Whiter gum on thinner paper. Gum tends to have a flat appearance
King George VI era stamps - Listed by Commonwealth King George VI Catalogue
Commonwealth Catalogue listings are in black, Potter & Shelton are listed in red.
The date is from Potter & Shelton.
CW 23 - SG 132 - ST 91a
3/ Purple-Slate & Myrtle-Green

3/ Purple-Slate & Deep Myrtle
9/1942 Printing
CW 23a - SG 132a - ST 91
3/ Black & Deep Yellow-Green

3/ Black & Deep Green
1943 Printing
CW 23b - SG 132b - ST 91
Not Listed in Commonwealth

3/ Brown-Black & Green
1944 Printing
CW 23b - SG 132b - ST 91
3/ Black & Dull Myrtle-Green

3/ Brown-Black & Deep Myrtle-Green
10/ 1946 Printing
CW 23b - SG 132b - ST 91
Not Listed in Commonwealth

3/ Brown-Black & Green
1950 Printing
CW 23b - SG 132b - ST 91
Not Listed in Commonwealth

3/ Brown-Black & Green
1951 Printing

The last three printings are pretty similar in color.
I just noticed some differences in the paper that was similar to other Bradbury Wilkinson printings
from other Colonies during this time period and used that to determine how to allocate them.

1942 Landfall Overprint issues
Commonwealth Catalogue listings are in black, Potter & Shelton are listed in red.
The date is from Potter & Shelton.
CW S15a - SG 173 - ST 127
3/ Purple-Slate & Myrtle-Green

3/ Slate-Purple & Deep Green
9/1942 Printing
CW S15 - SG 173a - ST 127a
3/ Black & Green

3/ Steel-Grey & Deep Green
5/1943 Printing
CW S15a - SG 173a - ST 127a
Not listed in Commonwealth

3/ Grey-Black & Bright Green
6/1944 Printing

This article was written to help you identify your stamps.
Please feel free to ask a question, or include a correction.
We are always interested in additional shades or more information on these stamps.

Comments or Questions feel free to write
Classic Bahamas Stamps for sale based on the identification from this article.
Index to KGVI Stamp Description Web Sites
Links to other British Colonial Stamp Sites