The Revenue Stamps of Mauritius

by John Wilson

Scope of this Book

After featuring some of the most important facts about the island, I intend to devote the remainder of these pages to detailed notes and illustrations (insofar as it is possible from the information so far gleaned) on all aspects of the Revenue Stamps issued up to and including 2012. The various sub-headings will be:-

1.      Handstamps up to 1810 – the end of the French administration

2.      Handstamps from the start of occupation by the British from 1810

3.      Negotiable instruments with special reference to Bills of Exchange

4.      Locally printed Bills of Exchange imperforate stamps first used in 1869

5.      Stamps printed by Thomas De La Rue Ltd in Great Britain from 1869 onwards to the earlier part of the twentieth century and divided into:-

a.    Bills of Exchange stamps

b.    Internal Revenue stamps

c.    Insurance stamps

d.    Inland Revenue and Postage stamps

6.      Impressed Duty stamps

7.      Cheque stamps

8.      Postal Orders

9.      Tobacco Duty labels

From time to time, I have deviated from the purely philatelic aspects to dwell briefy upon various social and commercial activities of the island of Mauritius, in the hope that this will be of assistance in helping the reader to understand and appreciate some of the background to the stamp issues involved.

Over the years, I have inspected four different published catalogues, which cover mainly the items under headings 5 and 6 above. the first o f these was Walter Morley's "Catalogue and Price List of the Revenue Stamps of the British Colonies". The second and, I believe, final edition was published in 1910. Then came "Catalogue Fiscal", a French product   by A Forbin covering the whole world, the third, and last, edition of which was printed in 1915. George R Wren produced the next one in 1935. He was an American who specialised in Mauritius philately, and his catalogue is confined to that country, and is entitled "The Revenue Stamps of Mauritius". Finally came John Barefoot and his company J Barefoot Ltd with the "British Commonwealth Revenues", which reached its ninth edition (in full colour) in 2012.

Although all  of these publications can still be found, my references in this book almost exclusively relate to Barefoot.

First, one must understand the nature of a revenue Stamp, and what it is used for. Not everyone would agree with the headings on the above list, but I can do no better than to quote a definition from the Revenue Society which reads as follows:-

"....stamps, whether impressed, adhesive or otherwise, issued by International, National or Local Governments, their Licencees or Agents, and indicate that a tax, duty or fee has been paid or prepaid  or that permission has been granted."

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, states:-

 "A revenue stamp, tax stamp or fiscal stamp is a (usually) adhesive label used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licences, firearm registration and many other things. Typically   businesses purchase the stamps from the government, and attach them to taxed items on sale, or in the case of documents, as part of filling out the form."

Both definitions have their merits, but I think that I prefer te first one. It is not, however, mentioned in either definition that no document is enforceable at law if it does not have the amount of tax or duty paid required by law.