The Revenue Stamps of Mauritius

by John Wilson


For the uninitiated, there can probably be little more boring than attempting to read a book based on a remote aspect of the hobby of philately. Indeed, this treatise is unlikely to attract anyone but the dedicated collector of Mauritius philately in all its forms; or perhaps a person wishing to find an unusual and fascinating offshoot upon which to concentrate.

To budget for a large print copy would therefore be most unwise, not only because of the lack of potential reader numbers, but also because this is the first edition. Therefore, there is a likelihood that I shall be trampled underfoot by the erudite in our fraternity urging me to make many corrections and include aspects which ought to be in the book. In fact, I hope that I am, because I am very conscious of the shortage of data in some areas, and there is nothing I would like better than to be able to improve some of the information-impoverished areas. Some of these may well be due to me not having examined parts of the more detailed areas of research, occasioned by both time and cost.

To travel to Mauritius is a long journey and, although research has been for my own collection as well as for the book, there comes a limit to the cost/benefit analysis!

In making the remarks in the foregoing two paragraphs, I have in mind the experience of the well-known doyen of Mauritian philately, Peter Ibbotson who, sadly, is no longer with us. Whilst I have not the slightest wish to compare my humble efforts to the writings of Peter’s stretching over many years-and to which I am a disciple, he wrote a very good volume in 1991 (published by the Royal Philatelic Society London) entitled “Mauritius Postal History and Stamps”. Four years later, there was a further book (this time published by the Indian Ocean Study Circle) which he called Mauritius Postal History and Stamps Revisions and Additions”.

I am very grateful for the support I have received from so many people. I hope that I have succeeded in listing them all in my acknowledgements on a separate page. I pray that I have not offended anyone, but no doubt they will let me know……! I am disappointed from the lack of data I have received from the various Mauritian authorities with whom I have been in touch. In several cases, despite being reminded, I have not even received the courtesy of any reply – even to say that they cannot help. I think I could have improved this by being able to visit the island more often.

I have been truly amazed at how much material for research is now available on the web. That, and the advent of email, has made my task easier. I do not envy researchers on these type of subjects who had to manage without such benefits not so many years ago.

How do I come to find myself in this position of book-writing, you may ask? Well, I will make the history as short as possible, although no doubt many of you have experienced the same transitions if you have been involved in philately for most of your life. I started as a seven year old, when quantity was king. As schoolboys, we always counted the number of stamps we had, and whether it was more than our friends. Did someone mention quality? That didn’t matter. In fact, I did not trust stamp hinges and stuck all mine in the album with glue made by my mother from flour and water. They certainly stayed put!  It was an all-world collection, and so it remained for quite a few years, being relegated to a storage cupboard from teenager through marriage and fatherhood. During my forties , the collection was revived and I discovered that there had been a revolution in philately in those intervening years. Suffice to say that I gradually became more and more specialised over the years, as I began to realise that one could not possibly collect all the stamps in the world. Thus, I became fascinated with the background to the island of Mauritius and its interesting stamp history Nestling in my mind was the remote possibility that I might luckily discover one of the “Post Office” issues, and make my fortune. No such luck.

But Mauritius offered many other attractions, so I stuck with it, and discovered many branch lines down which to travel, apart from merely collecting postage stamps from SG 3 onwards. One of these branch lines was the Revenue stamps, where I was very fortunate to become really interested at a time when there were two or three dealers who were able to offer me some interesting material, some of which was derived from the De La Rue archives.

I was then foolish enough to give a show to the Indian Ocean Study Circle; it was there that someone (who shall be nameless!) suggested I might think about writing this book. I have always been a soft touch for taking on too much, my long-suffering wife tells me, so here I am.


John Wilson

February 2014