Mauritius philatelic treasure sold

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MauritiusPrintingPlate_Rarities_philately-38364.jpg Mauritius printing plate
A printing plate described as the greatest philatelic treasure existing' has been sold at auction in Geneva.

A printing plate described as the greatest philatelic treasure existing' has been sold at auction in Geneva.

The Mauritius ‘Post Office’ printing plate, used for the printing of the colony’s famous stamps of 1847 and described as ‘the greatest philatelic treasure existing’, was recently sold at auction in Geneva for €1,100,000, excluding the buyers’ premium (approximately £918,508).

The plate had been thought lost until it was rediscovered by the family of collector Maurice Burrus in 2015. The rarity was subsequently exhibited at philatelic events in London and New York before going under the hammer in December 2016, as part of a major sale of Mauritius stamps and postal history.

The copper plate measures 81 x 60 mm, weighs 46g, and shows a single cliché of the 1d and 2d values each measuring 20.4 x 23.6mm. Both values show the inscription ‘POST OFFICE’ ‘POSTAGE’ ‘MAURITIUS’ and either ‘ONE PENNY’ or ‘TWO PENCE’ bordering a portrait of Queen Victoria. The plate has been certified as being authentic by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society in London.

A spokesperson for David Feldman International Auctioneers said: ‘The atmosphere in the auction room was very tense and exciting with several of the current private owners of Post Office Stamps also present via telephone and bidding agents.’

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The auction consisted of just six lots yet still achieved a total sale price of €3.8 million. Another highlight was the final lot of the day, a Mauritius Bombay cover, which was sold for €2,400,000 (approximately £2 million).

According to the auction house, the cover is ‘considered by many to be one of the greatest philatelic items in existence’. A David Feldman spokesperson added: ‘The end result was a great success for two notable private collectors, both of whom wish to remain anonymous (at least for the moment), with the room breaking out into great applause when the final lot was hammered.’

(Image copyright David Feldman International Auctioneers)