The Philatelist’s Pick: Some postage stamps design errors

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. 

cover image - bordeau cover

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. 

Note the incorrect latitude for Mauritius

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”. 

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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. 

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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.  

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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).

African Postal Heritage Papers: Mauritius

I am pleased to announce that the publication of three African Postal Heritage Papers about Mauritius by the African Studies Centre, Leiden (The Netherlands). We are happy that we managed to release them in time for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of Mauritius on the 12th March 2018. 

Due to the massive amount of information, the papers are published in 3 volumes as follows:
The first paper (referenced APH 27) covers the period starting from the beginning of postal history in Mauritius until independence. It is available on:
The second paper (referenced APH 28) covers the period after independence to date. It is available on
The third paper (referenced APH 29) is a listing of Mauritius postmarks (opened and closed) as well as an iconographic analysis of Mauritian stamps. This paper is available on:
This is part of a scientific project to prepare and encourage in-depth studies about on the one hand the history of postal services, and what they say about the political geography and geopolitics of what for a long time used to be a state service, and on the other hand the iconography of stamps as ‘messengers’. 
The link to all other APH papers so far isAfrican Postal Heritage (APH) papers
These papers are working documents, so any comments/ views/ suggestions are more than welcomed. 

Welcome to my world of Mauritian stamps…

cover image - bordeau cover

Dear fellow philatelists,

Welcome to my little world of Mauritian stamps! I’ve been playing with the idea of creating this blog for a few years now, but I guess, looking at amount of work it requires to do something interesting, I’ve been procrastinating… But anyway, here we are..

This blog was born out of my passion for Mauritian stamps, which dates back to my childhood – over 30 years ago – when I remember being fascinated as an 8-year old, about these little pieces of colourful papers glued on the corner of envelopes my dad would get by postal mail.. As time went by, I piled up dozens of boxes and albums. In the past 10 years or so, I decided to become more focused, and naturally, I paused on postal items of my own country, Mauritius.

As many of you know, Mauritius is known for some of the rarest and most expensive stamps in the world – the blue and red penny stamps, that fetched over $ 2 million at the last auction.. It also has an exceptional track record of stunningly beautiful series of historical, nature-related or commemorative stamps issues, which over the years, earned it a another reputation when it comes to beautiful first day covers.

As I advanced on my quest to build up my own collection of Mauritian stamps, I however stumbled into a major challenge. There is not a single source available online, regarding historical documentation and chronological release of various types of covers. Of course, everything is available on display if you visit the Philatelic Museum or the Blue Penny Museum. But if you are unfortunate to live abroad (like me), then you face the challenge I faced.

It took me a lot of time and patience (and earned me a lot of grey hair)  to start building a chronological account of what has been released, at least since the country gained independence in 1968. The fruits are my hard labour is what I want to share with you. And as you will notice, this is just the beginning of the journey as this is far from complete.

I hope that this blog can contribute to raising interests in Mauritian philatelic items and facilitates the task of many of you, who like me, bang your head against the wall, as you want to improve your collection 🙂 I hope that it also serves as a pedagogical tool as a lot can be learnt on the history of Mauritius through it’s philatelic heritage. That will be the title of my next blog.

And if you want to help me improve the blog with stuffs I missed, please contact me!!