World Stamps

Famous Bombay cover featured on Czech sheet

Apr 28, 2021, 5 AM
A souvenir sheet from the Czech Republic pictures the Bombay cover, considered to be a crown jewel of philately. The sheet promotes the Praga 2018 exhibition and show, where the cover was planned for display.

By Denise McCarty

A new Czech Republic souvenir sheet shows one of the stamp hobby’s greatest rarities, the Bombay cover. Franked with two of the Mauritius 1847 1-penny Post Office stamps (Scott 1), the 1850 cover is addressed to Bombay, India.

The famed cover last sold in a 2016 David Feldman auction in Switzerland for more than $2.5 million. The buyer was a Czech stamp collector, who is exhibiting the cover at the Praga 2018 specialized world stamp exhibition taking place Aug. 15-18 in Prague, Czech Republic.

The souvenir sheet was issued Aug. 8, a week before the start of the exhibition, and includes the Praga 2018 logo in the upper left.

The single 59-koruna stamp in the souvenir sheet is a stamp-on-stamp design, featuring the two Mauritius stamps from the Bombay cover.

In the catalog for the Dec. 1, 2016, Feldman auction of the cover, Helen Morgan (author of The Blue Mauritius, the Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamp) wrote: “For as far as used specimens of the one penny Post Office stamps go, these two are in as perfect a condition as could be hoped: their colour is vibrant, their margins generous, and their cancellations are comforting in their authenticity, barely obliterating the young Queen’s profiles.”

The rest of the cover is shown in the selvage of the souvenir sheet. Inscribed below it are words in Czech that translate to “Czech Post — General Exhibition Partner.”

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Kamil Knotek designed the souvenir sheet. The republic’s Post Printing House printed it by offset.

The Bombay cover was mailed Jan. 4, 1850, by the Rev. Langrische Banks, who was working for the British and Foreign Bible Society in Mauritius. It is addressed to Thomas Jerrome Esq., secretary to the Bombay Auxiliary Bible Society.

The cover was discovered by C. Howard in 1897 at a Bombay bazar. According to the Feldman website, Howard paid 5 rupees for the cover, and sold it in 1898 for £1,600.

After that, the cover was owned by several collectors, including Alfred Lichtenstein. At H.R. Harmer’s 1968 auction of the Dale-Lichtenstein collection, Raymond Weill purchased the cover for $380,000, a record price for any philatelic item at the time.

For more information about the Czech Republic souvenir sheet showing the Bombay cover, visit the website.