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The Blue Mauritius, 2 d "POST PAID"
The famous Mauritius stamp
The Blue Mauritius is familiar even to people who have never had any interest in stamps. Even though it is neither the rarest nor the most valuable stamp in the world, it is the one whose myth has taken root most firmly in people’s minds. The legendary first Mauritius stamp with the “POST OFFICE” inscription was printed in an issue of 500. Of these, only 12 still remain. For private collectors, however, these historic items remain unattainable as they have long since been the property of museums.
With the second Mauritius series, it is a little different. In exceptional cases, stamps with the POST PAID inscription can still be found on the free market. For collectors, these international rarities are regarded as the highlight of any collection.
Rare opportunities at stamp auctions
Auctioneer Ulrich Felzmann has, on numerous occasions, succeeded in securing one of these rare Mauritius POST PAID specimens for his auction house. The one that will be going under the hammer at the 152nd auction comes from the earliest number printed, in exceptionally undiminished indigo. The specimen comes from a collector who wishes to remain anonymous. This historic stamp was once the crowning jewel in the collection of Philipp von Ferrary, the most famous philatelist of all time, who even owned six of the first Mauritius stamps at one point.
The starting price in the auction no. 152 was €25,000, Brandon photo certificate (SG 4, £65,000). The auction of this rare and desirable Mauritius stamp took place on 2 July 2015. The stamp was sold for €29,000.
The sought-after Blue Mauritius “Post Office” stamp
According to popular legend, engraver Joseph Osmond Barnard was forgetful and half blind. A sign in front of the post office led him to mistakenly engrave the inscription “Post Office” in the first print series. However, this version of the story has never really been corroborated. The right inscription would have been “Post Paid”, indicating to the postman that – contrary to normal practice – the sender had already paid the postage. Nonetheless, the story about the alleged misprint of the first Mauritius series caught the imagination of stamp collectors, making them all the more determined to secure one of these legendary stamps for their collections.
The famous Mauritius stamp in red and blue
The red Mauritius penny stamp was originally intended for post sent within the island capital of Port Louis, while its blue counterpart cost two pence and was for overseas postage. Of the 500 “Post Office” specimens originally in circulation, there are now only 15 of the red and 12 of the blue left worldwide. The two specimens are only found together on the legendary “Bordeaux cover”, a folded letter that, up until 2014, was one of the most expensive philatelic collectors’ items in the world, outranked only by the British Guiana 1¢ magenta and the Treskilling Yellow.
The Blue Mauritius “Post Paid” in various colours
For the second set of stamps in the Mauritius series, the inscription was changed to “Post Paid”; as well as this, engraver Joseph Osmond Barnard created two printing plates for twelve specimens each. What is interesting is that he did not produce an initial engraving for reproduction but rather engraved each stamp in the steel plate individually. This meant that each stamp had its own typical characteristics. As Barnard used the printing plates for a good ten years, they wore out and the prints deteriorated in quality. Accordingly, the stamps from the first issue are of the highest quality, while later prints have shortcomings, for instance very faint background lines.
Everything at a glance
The picture gallery shows the differences between the individual stamps in colours and printing:
Mauritius letter and stamp in auction
2 d blue, latest impression, fresh colour and wide margins all around hammer price 5,400 Euro,
Stamps to sell? Top advice from our resident experts
If you would like to sell your collection or individual stamps or coins, you can contact the experts at Felzmann at any time. We provide estimates and expert advice free of charge. Telephone: +49 (0)211/550 440, Immermannstr. 51, 40210 Düsseldorf, Germany
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