Tobago - British colony






Quick reference

General issues: British colony 1879-1896

Country name on general issues: Tobago

Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1879-1896

Population: 18 800 in 1901

Political history Tobago

Postal history Tobago

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Tobago is located in the Caribbean as one of the Lesser Antilles – for the exact location, please refer to the map of the Caribbean. Prior to colonization, Tobago was inhabited by the Amerindian Carib people –  a people found on many of the Lesser Antilles. The first European to sight Tobago was Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to the Americas in 1498. The Carib warded off European settlement until the late 16th century. From then on, several European nations fought over the possession of Tobago: the British, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Swedish and even the Curonians from the duchy of Courland in the Baltics. All in all, Tobago changed hands 33 times before it was finally acknowledged as a British colony in 1814.

The British, in 1833, made Tobago part of the Windward Islands colony – a loose federation of the British possessions in the Windward Islands. In 1889, Tobago was detached from the Windward Islands and attached to Trinidad to form the colony of Trinidad & Tobago. At first Tobago was a distinct political entity, but it came to be fully amalgamated as an administrative district in 1899. Currently, Tobago is part of the republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Tobago has a certain amount of self government since 1980.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, attempts were made to develop Tobago as a plantations colony. To man the plantations, slaves were brought to Tobago from Africa. Successful development of the plantations was, however, frustrated by the frequent fights over the Island. The British in the early 19th century did successfully develop plantations – sugar cane being the cash crop. The downturn in the sugar cane market in the late 19th century made the plantations economy collapse. Since then, Tobago resorted to small scale crops, mainly exported to Trinidad. Modern day Tobago invests in a developing tourism sector. The majority of the population black.

Postal history Tobago

Postal history Tobago

1885-1896 – Queen Victoria

The first stamps used on Tobago were the general issues from Great Britain between 1858 and 1860. These were superseded by the issues of Trinidad from 1860. Tobago issued its first stamps in 1879 – revenue stamps used as postage stamps without overprint. In 1880, the first definitive postage stamps were issued. This issue, and subsequent issues, are of the same design, common to the British colonies. The last issue for Tobago appeared in 1896 and is again a revenue stamp – now overprinted with a new denomination and the word ‘Postage’. Trinidad and Tobago had separate postal administrations until 1913, but the stamps of Trinidad came to be used in Tobago from 1896. Since the full integration of the postal administrations in 1913, until today, the stamps of Trinidad & Tobago are used.

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