Mauritius 1847 Post Office 2d Blue
The Mauritius 1847 Post Office 2d Blue was one of two stamps, along with the Post Office 1d Orange, to be issued in the Republic of Mauritius, off the African continent, in September 1857.
Today the 2d blue and 1d orange are among the rarest stamps ever produced, and have legendary status amongst philatelists.
Main article: Mauritius “Post Office” Stamps
The Mauritius 1847 Post Office 2d Blue was engraved by Englishman Joseph Osmond Barnard, born in 1816, who had stowed away on a ship to Mauritius in 1838.
The stamp was printed using the intaglio recessed printing method and bear the engraver's initials "JB" at the lower right margin of the bust.
Barnard based his designs on the then current issue of Great Britain stamps: the Penny Red (released 1841) and the Two Penny Blue (released 1840). The stamps both featured an image of the profile head of Queen Victoria, with the word ‘postage’ above and their value (‘one penny’ or ‘two pence’) below.
The words "Post Office" appear in the left panel, but on the following issue in 1848, these words were replaced by "Post Paid." A legend arose later that the words "Post Office" had been an error.
'Post Office' inscription
In 1928, Georges Brunel published Les Timbres-Poste de l'Île Maurice in which he stated that the use of the words "Post Office" on the 1847 issue had been an error. Over the years, the story has been embellished, but is purely fictional; philatelic scholars have confirmed that the "Post Office" inscription was intentional.
Adolphe and d'Unienville wrote that "It is much more likely that Barnard used 'Post Office' because this was, and still is, the legal denomination of the government department concerned”, and several rubber stamps used in Mauritius on letters prior to these stamps also had featured the words "Post Office".
The change rendered the 'Post Office' varieties extremely rare. Only 500 of each were ever printed, and they have set records at auction.
Famous owners of the Mauritius 1847 Post Office 2d Blue include Thomas Tapling, amasser of the famous Tapling Collection. Tapling famously acquired this stamp, along with its 1d Orange sibling in a philatelic swap with Count Phillip Von Ferrary.
A Post Office Two Penny Blue sold for $1,148,850 when philatelist Hiroyuki Kanai sold his famous collection of Mauritius stamps in 1993.
‘The greatest item in all of philately'
A cover featuring one of each, referred to by many 'the greatest item in all of philately', sold for $3,829,500. This remains the record price for a philatelic item.
The Chartwell specimen was purchased for £29,000 by renowned philatelist Sir Humphrey Cripps for his Chartwell Collection of Great Britain and British Empire stamps in 1972. He almost immediately turned down an offer of £39,000 for the stamp.
It is one of only 27 Post Office Mauritius stamps known to exist.
Auctioneer Spink announced that it would be auctioning the stamp in June 2011.
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