Czech Post Office issues Blue Mauritius

The original of the world's most valuable stamp is now in Czech hands

You have a chance to own the most expensive stamp in the world, or at least a copy of it. The Czech Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp with the image of the Blue Mauritius.

The Czech version is a category A stamp, and sells for Kč 16. It can be used for ordinary letters and postcards.

“The Czech Post has selected the Blue Mauritius for the World Stamp Exhibition next year, and the Blue Mauritius is to be exhibited there. The second reason is that for the first time a Czech citizen owns the Blue Mauritius. The person bought it with another three unique pieces,” Czech Post Office head Břetislav Janík said when the stamp was unveiled.

The World Stamp Exhibition, also called Praga 2018, will be held Aug. 15 to 18, 2018, at the Clarion Congress Hotel Prague.

The authors of the Czech stamp on which Blue Mauritius is shown are the artists Jaromír and Kamil Knotek. Some 2.5 million units of the stamps are being issued, and they are printed by offset in sheets of 50. This is fewer, for example, then were issued of President Miloš Zeman, which had an issue of 10 million.

In August 2016 an unidentified Czech investor bought the two most expensive stamps in at Kč 100 million, or $4.1 million. They are together one a card. The anonymous owner at the time said they planned to display the stamps at the Praga 2018 exhibition. The identity of the owner should also be revealed at the exhibition.

The stamps are rare but not unique. The Red Mauritius stamp is denominated at one penny, while the blue sold for two pence. They were printed in 1847 and feature a portrait of Queen Victoria. The stamps were issued by the British colony of Mauritius, and are the first British Empire stamps produced outside of Britain.

Despite the high value put on them now by collectors, the engraving is actually quite primitive as was common for stamps in distant colonies. The engraving was by Joseph Osmond Barnard, who stowed away on a ship in 1838. He was thrown off the ship in Mauritius; his original destination had been Sydney, Australia.

His initials JB appear on the lower right margin of the portrait. Some 500 stamps of each denomination were printed, and many were used on envelopes for invitations to the Governor's Ball. Some 12 blue and 14 red are left in the world.

Many of the surviving pieces were found by Jeanne Borchard from Bordeaux, who found the stamps in the company archive of her husband, who was the wine dealer selling French wines to Mauritius.

The red 1 penny stamp was found by Borchard in 1864. The Blue stamp was found about 1869. Both have been parts of famous collections over the years.

Most of the other stamps are also in private hands, but some can be seen in the British Library in London an in museums in Mauritius, Berlin, Stockholm and The Hague.

Several notable collectors have owned examples over the years. Britain's King George V paid £1,450 for an unused blue Mauritius at an auction in 1904, which was a world record price at the time.

The Czech Post Office, Česká pošta, had published a short video of the unveiling of the stamp on Sept. 6, with the father and son team of Jaromír and Kamil Knotek autographing a large poster of the new Blue Mauritius stamp and drinking a traditional toast.

Video on YouTube

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