Sunday, 30 September 2012

Is Mauritius Attempting To Issue The Most Boring Stamps In The Commonwealth?

Very few modern Commonwealth postal authorities adopt as conservative an approach to new stamp issues as Mauritius does. All stamps that appear have local relevance and if they commemorate an internationally important anniversary or event, the designs usually feature subjects which are directly relevant to the island. The stamps are of modest face value which can be used on real mail by members of the general public and sets usually consist of 4 stamps and no more with the release of a miniature sheet being an unusual event. Top marks to the Mauritius Post Office except.....why are so many recent designs so unimaginative and downright dull? Four stamps were issued on 4 April 2012 to commemorate "Law Day" and among them was possibly the most uninteresting design of the year so far - the Rs20 value featured a hand and a gavel and nothing much else.

This followed on from possibly the most boring stamp design of 2011 which appeared when Mauritius issued a set of 4 stamps on 19 December which commemorated the Mauritius tea industry - the Rs25 value depicted a hand (again) pouring boiling water from a kettle into a teapot. At least you could say that the design was a little steamy!

Almost as dull was the Rs15 value's design from the same set which featured, er, teabags!

It is also very hard to enthuse about the design of the "events and anniversaries"set of 4 stamps which was issued on 30 June 2011 which featured  a black and white photograph of the Medine Sugar Factory:-

and to come back to the 2012 Law Day set, the photograph featured on the Rs15 value of a former Mauritius Chief Justice isn't going to make you rush out to your stamp dealer with an unquenchable need to add the stamp to your collection:-

Since the Law Day set, Mauritius has issued 2 further sets of stamps during 2012 - 4 stamps and a miniature sheet on 25 June which commemorate the centenary of the Mauritius Turf Club and which, because they feature the subject of horse racing, are actually a little more interesting and, back in the doldrums, 4 stamps which commemorate the Customs Department. Mauritius' conservative new issue policy deserves much praise but perhaps the designs themselves do not need to be quite so conservative. Perhaps the designer of all the above stamps, Nitish Peechen, could be a little more adventurous with future designs.



  1. Thanks for this article. I have to admit that somehow you are right. I personally do perceive some of those stamps as being boring.

    But what people have to understand, is that, it is not a one man show. The design of those stamps is decided by a group of people in a committee called the Stamp Advisory Committee.

    They recommend, suggest and approved the design of those stamps. And believe it or not all of them are willing and helpful. They all want to produce the best stamps possible (However the perceive same). But unfortunately, they tend to be a little bit afraid of taking this to a higher level because of critics and the value Mauritian Stamps have.

    For my part, good news may be for you, I've quit. Nurveen Ratty, far better stamp designer than me, is likely to take over with the help of the graphic artist of the Mauritius Post.

    Best regards,
    Nitish Peechen

  2. Dear Nitish, Thank you very much indeed for your extremely interesting input. I'm sorry to read that no more stamps will be designed by you as you were clearly doing your best with a difficult brief and, being a devoted collector of Mauritius stamps, many little works of art that you have produced are sitting in my Mauritius album here in my home (they may depict steaming kettles and tea-bags but they are still works of art). It's a real problem trying to please everyone in a committee and sometimes some individuals who have the loudest voices and the strongest opinions are not necessarily the best people for choosing any work of art let alone a miniature masterpiece. I hope that The Mauritius Stamp Committee can feel that they can be a little more exciting with their design briefs and eventual choice of designs so that you and other designers in Mauritius can feel thoroughly satisfied with your products and so that collectors can feel really excited about what is going to be collected by them. Once more, many thanks for your comment and even though you will not be designing any Mauritius stamps in the immediate future hopefully you may decide to return to designing them in the future when Mauritius plans something just a little more adventurous.

    1. You are most welcome. You've got it exactly right, the committee actually tries to please everyone. Fearing comments and thinking too much about what people are going to say.

      That color is close to a political party. I will not be more explicit than this but I was too young and not strong enough for this job.

      Fair enough. Thanks for your article. It was a pleasant reading.

  3. What you have to realize is that back in 2007 the entire stamp advisory committee was sacked, after the following happened...

    On the 4th December 2007 Mauritius issued a set of 4 stamps for Anniversaries. The 5Rs stamp commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Ministerial System, depicting the nine personalities that were sworn in as Ministers in June 1957. Unfortunately instead of showing A. M. Osman, the stamp showed a photograph of his brother A. H. Osman. The incorrect stamp was withdrawn from sale on the 8th, then re-issued on the 27th December with the corrected photograph and name.

    Following this the Stamp Advisory Committee was disbanded on the 21st January, and not reformed until the 18th July.

    Mauritius then had a gap of 12 months without any new issues, until the 8th December 2008 and the ‘Authors who mentioned Mauritius set’. Note a normal year sees between four and six commemorative issues.

    1. Thanks for the excellent information. I remember the problem with the wrong person being featured on that stamp but I did not know that the entire Stamp Advisory Committee had been disbanded as a result. Perhaps the replacement committee was treading carefully so as not to upset anyone hence the rather anodyne and unexciting designs in subsequent years. At least Mauritians get a say in the subjects featured on their stamps as well as the designs rather than foreign philatelic agencies in distant capitals completely dictating what will appear on the country's postal stamps and of course, as you point out, Mauritius has an excellent, conservative new issue policy. Many thanks.