In 1847, the British Colony of Mauritius issued one penny and Two Penny stamps. As postage stamps were recently invented for postal use, the new governor’s wife wished to use them on her invitations to the inaugural ball. This design was created by Joseph O. Barnard (1816-1865) local jeweler, whose initials are engraved on the neck of the queen (as ‘J.B’) on Post Office Mauritius Stamps. The jeweler was placed under great pressure to produce the plates for immediate usage. Working late into the night, without experience and being rushed by the governor’ wife, the engraver made a serious mistake not noted until the proofing of the first few sheets. The jeweler erroneously engraved the words ‘Post Office’ instead of the words ‘Post Paid’ upon the stamp. These Mauritius issues feature an image of Queen Victoria and the inscription “Post Office” along the left edge. A copper plate of 3.25 inches by 2.5 inches was used to engrave the design.
When the error was discovered, the governor’s wife (Lady Gomm) would not be delayed even one day. She took enough of the stamps to mail her invitations, and the rest of the errors were destroyed. How many were used cannot really be estimated, because no one really knows exactly how many invitations were sent out.
There are approximately thirty stamps known to be in existence. Both mint and used copies have existed in the stamp world. In 1929, the catalogue value of the Scott #1, Imperforate 1 penny orange, was $20,000 for a unused issue; and the Scott #2, Imperforate 2 pence blue, was $17,000 for unused. The #1 was $12,500 for a used copy, and the #2 was $15,000.
In the 2007 Scott catalogue, The Scott #1 unused is $1,100,000
They are mostly in the hands of private collectors, but are on display at the British Museum in London and the Blue Penny Museum in Mauritius. All un used copies are in museums. There is one unused copy of the 1p in private hands.
The inscription was later correct to read “Post Paid” on the next issuance of these stamps.