1847 Mauritius ‘Post Office’ Stamps


The 1847 Mauritius ‘Post Office’ stamps are some of the most renowned and rarest stamps in the world. These stamps were the first colonial stamps in the British Empire. Only twenty-six “Post Office” stamps are known to be surviving, making them rare and valuable.

The stamps were designed and printed in England by a local lithographic printer Joseph Osmond Barnard. These stamps were intended to be used for local and international postage. The first batch of stamps was shipped to Mauritius during the late 1847s.

The stamps feature a portrait of Queen Victoria, who had ascended the throne just a few years prior. The two stamps are known as the “One Penny” and the “Two Penny” denominations. The words “Post Office” were inscribed at the top of these stamps, which were the only indicators of their origin.

The story of how the 1847 Mauritius ‘Post Office’ stamps came to be is a fascinating tale. There are several stories floating around, but one that seems to be the most plausible tells of a mistake made by a local printer, Joseph Osmond Barnard.

As the story goes, Barnard was asked to print stamps for Mauritius. However, he had never printed stamps before and made a mistake. Instead of printing the words “Post Paid,” as he was instructed, he printed “Post Office.”

When the error was discovered, he printed a second, corrected version of the stamps, but not before a handful of stamps with the “Post Office” mistake had already been issued. These stamps were quickly withdrawn, and the corrected versions were put into circulation.

The rarity of these stamps has made them highly sought after by stamp collectors. In 1993, the famous collector Sir David Feldman purchased one of the ‘Post Office’ stamps at an auction. The stamp sold for 1.4 million Swiss francs, making it the most expensive stamp in the world at the time.

The 1847 Mauritius ‘Post Office’ stamps are a true rarity and a piece of postal history. Their value and rarity continue to capture the imagination of stamp collectors and enthusiasts around the world. The story of their creation and the mistake that made them more valuable only adds to their allure.