Errors and varieties have always been an important part of philately. Errors, in particular are in high demand and can sometimes be quite expensive because their flaws have unintentionally created some of the rarest and most visually striking stamps in the world. Two such examples are our world famous Blue and Red penny.
This short blog highlights a few design errors which feature on Mauritian postage stamps. A full page dedicated to philatelic errors is available on the main page. It highlights the most common errors, and illustrates some Mauritius stamps with design or production errors.
The two pence Blue and one penny Red
The most famous error, which has placed Mauritius on the global scene of philately can be seen the envelope below.
On 21 September 1847, two stamps were issued: an orange-red one penny (1d) and a deep blue two pence (2d). The words “Post Office” appear in the left panel. These two stamps are now among the rarest stamps in the world. Only 500 of each were printed from a single plate bearing both values. They were notably used on invitations sent out by the Governor’s wife for a ball which she was holding.
The stamps were engraved by Joseph Osmond Barnard in Mauritius and the designs were based on the then current issue of Great Britain stamps (first released in 1841), bearing the profile head of Queen Victoria. The first two stamps were issued in two denominations in similar colours to that of the British stamps. The wordings were later corrected to ‘Post Paid”, which de facto, made speculators think that it was indeed an error.
In 1993, the Blue Penny alone was sold at £1 million. The famous Bombay cover franked with two rare 1-penny “Post Office” (red) stamps realized €2 million. The current price of the world famous “Bordeaux cover” (shown earlier in this blog) is estimated to be worth between 4 to 6 million Swiss Francs in 1993 in David Feldman‘s catalogue.
1 July 1950, King George VI 12 cents and 20 cents stamps
This 12-cent stamp shows the Dodo bird and map of Mauritius, with incorrect latitude for Port Louis as 21 degrees, rather than 20.
The number was corrected when re-issued in 1953, when the series was re-printed after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The value of the stamp is estimated at GBP 1.50 for a mint stamp and GBP 3.00 for a used stamp (Stanley Gibbons, 3rd edition 2016).
In the same series, the 20-cent stamp was also incorrectly inscribed “Virginia”. It should be “Virginie”.
The wrong inscription was NOT corrected when the stamp was re-issued in 1953. The value of the stamp is £1.00 mint and £0.15 used, again according to the latest edition of Stanley Gibbons of 2016.
7 December 2006, Traditional games
In the series ‘Traditional Games” released on 7 December 2006, the Rs. 15 stamp shows children playing hopscotch.
The word is written “Hop Scotch” instead of “Hopscotch”. The error was never corrected nor really highlighted. The mint stamp is valued at £ 1.50, while the used stamps is estimated at £2.00.
4 December 2007: Anniversaries and Events
The Rs. 5 stamp, which depicts nine portraits and captions of first elected cabinet, has several errors. The most flagrant one is the picture of A.H. Osman which appear on the stamp in place of A.M. Osman. Also, note the incorrect caption “Dr. G. Millien”, which should have been “Dr. E. Millien” instead, and the wrong caption “R. Vaghjee”, which should have been “H. Vaghjee” instead.
On 27 December a new partially corrected Rs. 5 stamp was put on sale, with the correct photo of A. M Osman, but the other errors were not corrected.
Both the original and the re-issued stamps are valued at £0.75 mint and £0.50 when used, according to the latest issue of Stanley Gibbons (2016).