World Stamps

Iconic Mauritius 1847 Bordeaux cover, German rarities to go on display at Ibra exhibition May 25-28

Jan 30, 2023, 8 AM
The Mauritius 1847 Bordeaux cover, an icon of classic philately, will be on display during the Ibra 2023 stamp exhibition that will take place May 25-28 in Essen, Germany. Image courtesy of David Feldman SA.

By Charles Snee

The famous 1847 Bordeaux cover of Mauritius will be on display at the May 25-28 Ibra 2023 stamp exhibition in Essen, Germany.

This icon of postal history is unique because it is the only known cover franked with the first two stamps of Mauritius: the 1847 1-penny orange and 2d dark blue stamps inscribed “POST OFFICE” and featuring a left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria.

Collectors often refer to these issues as the Post Office Mauritius stamps. They were the first stamps issued in the British colonies.

According to the exhibition’s website, the Bordeaux cover is being “shown through the mediation of the stamp house Richard Borek GmbH & Co. KG.” The Borek firm is located in Braunschweig, Germany.

In addition to the Bordeaux cover, three rarities of German philately will also be on display at Ibra 2023, courtesy of the German auction firm Heinrich Kohler, the exhibition website said.

The trio includes the only known first-day cover of the Bavaria 1849 1-kreuzer black (Scott 1), also called the “Black One”; the legendary on-cover example of the Baden 1851-52 9-kreuzer black mistakenly printed on green instead of pink paper; and the only complete sheet still in existence of the Saxony 1850 3-pfennig brick red (1), otherwise known as the “Saxony Three.”

The Post Office Mauritius stamps “were engraved and printed by Joseph Barnard, a watchmaker who some say was partially blind,” Donna O’Keefe wrote in Linn’s Philatelic Gems.

“He erroneously printed ‘Post Office’ on the stamps instead of the correct ‘Post Paid’ inscription,” O’Keefe said.

“The stamps, portraying the British monarch, Queen Victoria, were issued in time for use by Lady Gomm on invitations to a ball held in September 1847. Lady Gomm was the wife of Mauritius Lieutenant Governor W. Maynard Gomm.”

Both stamps on the Bordeaux cover are canceled by a rectangular boxed “Penny Post” marking. The stamps are tied to the folded letter by a red Boulogne, France, Dec. 26, 1847, circular datestamp.

According to the David Feldman SA auction firm in Switzerland, “The cover is in fact an entire including the letter contents.”

“The letter included was written in Port Louis on October 4, 1847 by Edward Francis & co. and was addressed to Duncan & Lurgnie at Bordeaux confirming the sale of 30 of the 48 casks of wine received earlier.”

In 1993, Feldman sold the Bordeaux cover for 6,123,750 Swiss francs (approximately $6.63 million today), the highest price paid for a philatelic item at the time.

The Bordeaux cover has graced the collections of Alfred Lichtenstein, Maurice Burrus, Hiroyuki Kanai and Arthur Hind.

Additional rarities to be displayed at Ibra 2023 will be announced as the exhibition dates draw closer.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter