Stamps of the Year 1968
1968: Mauritius independence, official First Day Cover
Mauritius became independent from Great Britain on 12th March 1968. To mark that important event in our political history, an official first day cover was issued on that day.
The FDC features 6 stamps: 3 stamps showing the Mauritian flag and three stamps featuring our Coats of Arms. The flag of Mauritius consists of red, blue, yellow and green bands, where:
- Red represents the struggle for freedom and independence.
- Blue represents the Indian Ocean, in the middle of which Mauritius is situated.
- Yellow represents the new light of independence.
- Green represents the agriculture of Mauritius and its colour throughout the 12 months of the year.
The Coat of arms of Mauritius consists of a Dodo Bird and Sambur Deer supporting sugar cane and a shield divided into four sections. The arms were designed in 1906.
On the blazon, the ship (called lymphad or galley) in the first quarter refers to the European settlers of the island, the Portuguese, Dutch, French and English respectively. The second quarter shows three palm trees for the tropical vegetation. The key symbolises the strategic importance of the island. The fourth quarter shows a star, symbol that the island is the star of the Indian Ocean.
The supporters are an (extinct) dodo (Raphus cucullatus) and a sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), symbolising the extinct and present wildlife.
The two green sugar canes indicate the importance of sugar for the local economy.
The motto “Stella Clavisque Maris Indici” is displayed on a ribbon, which means “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean” and is based on the lower half of the arms.
In addition to an official FDC, the GPO also issued a booklet, with the 6 stamps. The cover of the booklet features our Coats of Arms.
12 March 1968: Mauritius independence, commemorative postage stamps booklet
A few special commemorative covers were also issued. Three such covers are illustrated below.
(i) 12 March 1968: Mauritius independence – Special Cover Renaissance Curepipe
(ii) Independence, 12 March 1968, First Day Cover I (unofficial)
(iii) 12 March 1968: Mauritius Independence Day, unofficial first day cover
16 May 1968: Birds cover, First Day of Issue, unofficial
This private cover, dated May 1968, features 6 stamps from the definitive series of 1965. No special event is mentioned on the cover.
12 July 1968: Special Birds Issue First Day Cover (unofficial)
This birds definitive series was issued originally in 1965. In 1968, some stamps were re-issued, with new colours. A special cover was issued for that purpose by private collectors. The GPO did not issue an official FDC.
2 December 1968: Bicentenary of the Visit of Bernardin de St. Pierre to Mauritius – Official First Day Cover
To mark the bi-centenary of the visit of Bernardin de Saint Pierre, a french author, to Mauritius, an official first day cover was issued on 2 December 1968.
Bernardin de St. Pierre published a novel, “Paul and Virginia”, in in 1788, on the eve of the French revolution. The story, set in Mauritius under French rule, (then named Île de France), is about two characters, Paul and Virginia, who were raised as brother and sister since birth and who fell in love. According to the novel, in her teenage, Virginia’s aunt proposed to send her niece to France. Virginia accepted, though she was sad to leave Paul. Two years later, as she sailed back to Mauritius on board the St Géran, the ship was caught in a tempest and wrecked off Ile d’Ambre. Paul failed to save Virginia, who drowned. Shortly after, he died from grief.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre lived in Mauritius for a time and based part of his novel on a shipwreck he witnessed there. The story is a fiction. The stamps depict paintings based on the imaginary life of Paul and Virginia.
Stamps of the Year 1969
12 March 1969 – Marine Life Definitive series
On the 1st anniversary of the independence of Mauritius, a new definitive set of stamps was released on the theme maritime life. The set comprises 18 stamps, showing various marine species living in our seas. No official FDC was released on the occasion.
1 July 1969: Centenary of the birth of Gandhi – Crown Agent Cover
On 1st July 1969, a set of 6 stamps was issued to mark the birth centenary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian activist, leader of the Indian Independence Movement, under the British rule. Gandhi employed non-violent civil disobedience to fight for independence. He led national-wide campaigns for social causes.
Gandhi visited Mauritius in 1901. He was assassinated on 30 January 1948. The stamps shows various phases of this life. A miniature sheet was also issued on that occasion.
1 July 1969: Centenary of the birth of Gandhi Souvenir Sheet
22 December 1969: Sesqui Centenary Commemorative Issue of Telfair’s Improvement, Official First Day Cover
A series of 5 postage stamps was issued on 22 December 1969, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of improvements and innovations introduced by Charles Telfair, a British planter, to the sugar cane industry.
In 1819, Telfair introduced the first horizontal roller mill capable of extracting more juice from sugar cane than before canes. Telfair is pictured on the Rs. 2.50 stamp. The 15 cents stamp shows a vertical cane crusher, used in the early 19th century, before technological improvements introduced by Charles Telfair. The 60 cents stamp shows the Beau Rivage sugar mill, as it was in 1867. The Re. 1 stamp shows Mon Desert Alma Factory in the background of its sugar cane fields in 1969.
A souvenir sheet was also issued on that occasion.
A special cover was issued by Crown Agents on the same day, as shown below.
Sesqui Centenary commemorative issue of Telfair’s improvement – Crown Agent Special Cover