Bridge Stamps from Bermuda

The following short history of Bermuda is, of course, too short, incomplete, and does not reflect the many hardships and political changes during the colonization of this island. For this we ask the reader's indulgence.

Bermuda was visited by the Europeans in the early sixteenth century, probably in 1503, although the evidence for the exact year, and the identity of the discoverer, is uncertain. It was certainly known by 1511, when Peter Martyr published his Legatio Babylonica, which mentioned Bermuda. The discovery is attributed to a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez. Nothing is known of his supposed first visit. He returned again in 1515, with the chronicler Oviedo y Valdés. Oviedo's account of the second visit (published in 1526) records that they made no attempt to land because of weather.

In 1609, Sir George Somers set sail aboard the Sea Venture, the new flagship of the Virginia Company, leading a fleet of nine vessels, loaded with provisions and settlers for the new English colony of Jamestown, in Virginia. The fleet was caught in a storm, and the Sea Venture was separated and began to flounder. When the reefs to the East of Bermuda were spotted, the ship was deliberately driven on them to prevent its sinking, thereby saving all aboard. The survivors spent ten months on Bermuda until the next ships arrived.

After many, sometimes rebellious years, a representative government was introduced to Bermuda in 1620, when its House of Assembly held its first session, and it became a self-governing colony. Bermuda was divided into nine equally-sized administrative areas. These comprised one public territory (today known as St. George's) and eight tribes (today known as parishes). These tribes were areas of land partitioned off to the adventurers (investors) of the Company - Devonshire, Hamilton, Paget, Pembroke, Sandys, Smith's, Southampton and Warwick.

Tourism in Bermuda first developed in Victorian times, catering to a wealthy elite seeking to escape North American winters. Many also came hoping to find young noblemen among the officers of the Garrison and Naval base to whom they might marry their daughters. Local hoteliers were quick to exploit this, organising many dances and gatherings during the 'season', to which military and naval officers were given a blanket invitation.

Due historically to a third of Bermuda's manpower being at sea at any one time, and to many of those seamen ultimately settling elsewhere, especially as the Bermudian maritime industry began to suffer, Bermuda was noted for having a high number of aging spinsters well into the twentieth Century. Many Bermudian women had wed to naval or military officers, but, with the arrival of tourism, Bermudian women found themselves in competition with American girls. Most Bermudian women who married officers left Bermuda when their husbands were stationed elsewhere. It was also common, however, for enlisted men to marry Bermudians, and many of those remained in Bermuda, leaving the Army.

In the early twentieth century, as modern transportation and communication systems developed, Bermuda's tourism industry began to develop and thrive, and Bermuda became a popular destination for a broader spectrum of wealthy American, Canadian, and British tourists. In addition, the tariff enacted by the United States against its trading partners in 1930 cut off Bermuda's once-thriving agricultural export trade - primarily fresh vegetables to the United States - spurring the island to pour more of its efforts into the development of its tourism industry,

Although Imperial Airways and Pan-American World Airways both began flying to Bermuda in the 1930s (by which time the summer had become more important for tourists making briefer visits), it was not until after the Second World War, when the first airport for landplanes was built, and the advent of the Jet Age that tourism really realised its potential.

During all of these evolving years and since the introduction of the innovative new game of bridge, it was the English and mainly the elite of New York, many of whom were bridge players, who brought the game to the shores of Bermuda. The most prestigious of all bridge events, the Bermuda Bowl, originated on this island. The history of the Bermuda Bowl begins with Mr. Norman Bach, who was born in 1913 in Bermuda and died 1971. He initiated and organized the first post World War II World Championships in the year 1950. During the evolution of these Championships, the Bermuda Bowl came to be the most prestigious Bridge Trophy, and remains the most coveted to this day.

To commemorate these World Bridge Championships the government of Bermuda issued several stamps dedicated to the game of bridge and to the World Championships. A few examples of these stamps are presented below.
















Stamps and Bridge