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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Mauritius - Something Old and Something New

Mauritius is famous in the philatelic world for its 1847 "Post Office Mauritius" stamps (Scott #1 and 2), world-class rarities worth more than a million dollars each. The market for these stamps is obviously rather thin, constituting a parlor game played by ultra-rich collectors, and probably not of interest to 99.99% of the readers of this blog.

From a philatelic investment perspective, Mauritius has issued many stamps during its colonial period and as a republic which should do well in the years to come. The issues of the colonial period are pricier, and mainly sought by British Commonwealth collectors, while some of the relatively inexpensive recent issues have topical appeal.

Among the stamps of the colonial period are the issues of 1859-62 picturing an allegorical figure of "Britannia" (Scott #18-23). I've listed the quantities issued and Scott '11 Catalog Values for these below:

- 1859 6p Blue (Scott #18; 100,000; ;$750.- unused, $55.- used)

- 1859 1sh Vermilion (Scott #19; 50,000; $3,000.- unused, $57.50 used)

- 1861 6p Gray Violet (Scott #20; Unknown; $32.50 unused, $60.- used)

- 1861 1sh Green (Scott #21; 10,000; $ ;$675.- unused, $150.- used)

- 1862 6p Slate (Scott #22 ; Unknown; $30.- unused, $90.- used)

- 1862 1sh Deep Green (Scott #23; 7,500; $2,750.- unused, $400.- used)

When attempting an educated guess of quantities remaining, it should be kept in mind that there weren't very many people collecting Mauritius 150 years ago, and the vast majority of these stamps were probably used and discarded.

For those interested in a more affordable speculation, I recommend the 1969 Gandhi Issue, produced in set and souvenir sheet format (Scott #359-62, 362a). This is the most "biographical" Gandhi set that I've ever seen, in that it portrays the Mahatma at different points in his life. 49,680 sets and 25,864 souvenir sheets were issued, and Scott '10 prices them at $3.95 and $7.50 , respectively. Demand for Gandhi topicals has been heating up for a while now, and should continue to do so as the stamp market in India grows.

While it is possible that demand for stamps of Mauritius will be given an additional boost due to increased interest within the country itself, it may be that its population is too small to form a significant base of stamp collectors. A nation of about 1.3 million, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. This has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and improved infrastructure. Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on foreign investment, especially offshore banking, mainly aimed at commerce with India and South Africa. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 5% over the last five years.

Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer, at


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