Mauritius – The 1859 "LAPIROT" A Beautiful 'UGLY' Classic!

1/05/2012     Mauritius

When, in 1858 the "Post Office" stamps engraved by Joseph Barnard had finally worn away to almost nothing (the so-called "Latest Impressions", SG 23 - 25), the keeper of the Prison at Port Louis - Robert Sherwin - attempted to repair the 2d plate but failed and returned the plate unfinished.

Jules Lapriot, an actor and engraver then offered to produce a new plate for £10; the much admired classic 2d stamp he produced was not met with a favourable reaction at the time! In fact, it was described by the English press as "the greatest libel on Queen Victoria ever perpetrated on a postage stamp" and on the island itself, Lapriots stamps became known as the "Two Pence Mozambique" and "Libel labels".

Twelve stamps were individually engraved on to a copper plate (three horizontal rows of four), and during its use, stamps can be found in early, intermediate and worn impressions (SG 36/39).

In around November 1859 when the plate became very worn, parts of the copper plate were re-engraved or retouched; an example of a "Retouched impression" was only recently discovered by the celebrated Mauritius collector Hiroyuki Kanai, whose legendary collection was auctioned in 1993. SG 39a was added to the catalogues!

The Kanai collection had most of the important pieces, with a block of four, the retouches, and a range of unused examples including JUST ONE of the early impressions, illustrating its rarity

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