Rare stamps to go on display in Prague

So-called Bombay Cover, photo: Klára Stejskalová

The first-ever public display of the famous blue and red Mauritius stamps and the so-called Bombay Cover Post Office will be the highlight of this year’s world exhibition of postage stamps, Praga 2018, which gets underway in the Czech capital on Wednesday. The event will also mark 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia and 100 years since the issue of the first Czechoslovak stamp.

So-called Bombay Cover,  photo: Klára Stejskalová
The tradition of Praga international stamps exhibitions dates all the way back to the year 1938. The exhibition was last held in the Czech capital in 2008 and attracted over 40,000 people. Organizers are expecting around the same number of visitors to come this year.

The most unique item on display this year will be the famous Mauritius Post office stamps in red and blue colour, issued on Mauritius Island in 1847, and the so-called Bombay cover, which was sold in the United States in 1968 as the most expensive philatelic item ever. Stamp collector František Beneš, one of the organizers of the event, explains what makes these items so unique:

“The Bombay Cover was discovered by philatelists in 1897 and has since been part of the world’s most significant stamp collections. It goes on display only on very rare occasions.

“It is the first time the Bombay Cover will be showcased in the Czech Republic, just as the two stamps, the red and the blue Mauritius. The latter is the most famous stamp in the world.

“This particular specimen is said to be the most beautiful of all the blue Mauritius stamps that have been preserved to this day.”

Both copies of the Mauritius stamps, as well as the Bombay cover, were acquired at an auction in Britain in 2016 by a Czech collector, whose identity remains unknown. The price of the stamps has not been disclosed but they are estimated to have been sold for 100 million crowns, or 4.1 million US dollars.

The exhibition Praga 2018 will take place at four different venues around the city. Stamp exhibits will be on display in the Clarion Conference Hotel and in the Postal Museum in the centre of Prague. Exhibits promoting Czechoslovak and Czech stamps will be located in Mucha’s Museum.

František Beneš again:

František Beneš,  photo: Klára Stejskalová
“In the Mucha Museum in Panská Street visitors can see stamps linked to the painter Alfons Mucha, who created the first-ever Czechoslovak stamps: the Hradčany Castle and Falcon in Flight issues. People can also see the exhibitions of his other works of art.”

The largest event accompanying the exhibition will be the Expo sales event in the Olympik Hotel and Conference Centre, in which several dozen post administrations, dealers and auction houses from all around the world will participate.

The world stamp exhibition Praga 2018 gets underway in the Czech capital on Wednesday and runs until Saturday, August 18.