British West Indies dollar

British West Indies dollar

The British West Indies dollar (BWI$) was the currency of the various British West Indies territories from 1935 and, later, of the unitary West Indies Federation. The monetary policy of the currency was overseen by the British Caribbean Currency Board (BCCB).


Before 1935, sterling circulated throughout the British West Indies. In some of the eastern territories, notes were issued by various private banks, denominated in dollars equivalent to 4 shillings 2 pence. See Antigua dollar, Barbadian dollar, Dominican dollar, Grenadan dollar, Guyanese dollar, Saint Kitts dollar, Saint Lucia dollar, Saint Vincent dollar and Trinidad and Tobago dollar.

The BWI$ was introduced in 1935 at the rate of $4.80 per pound sterling or $1 = 4 shillings 2 pence. It was one of the many experimental political and economic ventures tested by the British government to form a uniform system within their British West Indies territories. The ISO 4217 code of the currency was "XBWD". The symbol "BWI$" for frequently used and the currency was known verbally as the "Beewee" (slang for British West Indies) dollar.

Until 1955, the BWI$ existed only as banknotes and without subdivisions. British coins circulated alongside the BWI$. Coins were introduced in 1955, denominated in cents, with each cent was worth one halfpenny in sterling.

In 1958, the West Indies Federation was established and the BWI$ was its currency. However, although Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were part of the West Indies Federation, they did not adopt the BWI$, retaining the pound.

In 1964 Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from the currency union (adopting the Trinidad and Tobago dollar) and soon the "BWI$" dollar lost its regional support and was replaced in 1965 by the East Caribbean dollar (with Guyana withdrawing from that currency union in 1966 to use the Guyanese dollar).


Coins were introduced in 1955 in denominations of ½, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents.


The first BWI$ banknotes were issued by private banks, including the Colonial Bank, Barclays Bank (which took over the Colonial Bank) and the Royal Bank of Canada. Issues were made at Antigua, Barbados, British Guiana, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. There were also government issues for Barbados and British Guiana.

In 1950, the first issues made for all the participating colonies, in the name of the "British Caribbean Territories, Eastern Group". These were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 100 dollars. These notes replaced all earlier issues in 1951. The 1950-1951 issues bore the portrait of King George VI, with those between 1953 and 1964 bearing that of Queen Elizabeth II.


*numis cite SCWC|date=1991
*numis cite SCWPM|date=1994
*numis cite SCWPM|date=1990.s

Standard numismatics external links
world_coin_gallery_1_url = Caribbean
world_coin_gallery_1_name = British East Caribbean Territories
banknote_world_1_url = east_caribbean_states
banknote_world_1_name = British East Caribbean Territories
dollarization_1_url =
dollarization_1_name =
gfd_1_url =
gfd_1_name =
gfd_data_1_url =
gfd_data_1_name =
show_gfd_excel = Y

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