November 3rd marked the 20th Anniversary of the famous Hiroyuki Kanai auction of Mauritius by David Feldman.

On November 3rd 1993, the world record price for any philatelic item was set (and still stands to do this day): the famous “Bordeaux Cover” of Mauritius (pictured) sold for a staggering CHF 6’123’750, smashing the previous record of US$3.8 million that Hiroyuki Kanai had bought the cover for from David Feldman in 1988. This “Crown Jewel of all philately” is the only known cover to bear both the 1d and 2d “POST OFFICE” stamps.

Not only was the sale a ground-breaking success, but the auction catalogue itself set new standards in the production of auction catalogues for the whole of the philatelic world; and has not been bettered since, let alone matched. It’s luxurious (and now iconic) blue suede cover with simple gilt inlay design belied the complexity and depth of research that went in to making such a fabulous production. It was even accompanied by a book to plate the classic issues of Mauritius!

The note on the final page of the catalogue summed it up perfectly:

“The production of this publication has been the result of much enthusiasm to do something different.

The challenge to present one of the most traditional and classic areas of philately in an original and personalised way has been a great passion for all of us who have worked on the project over the last six months. Being original and personal are also the essences of our hobby.



May we have served to inspire private collectors, dealers and fellow auctioneers to similar enterprise.”

Sadly Hiroyuki Kanai passed away last year. In the words of David Feldman, he was “one of the very few great philatelists who became a legend in his own lifetime”. His philatelic legacy is helped to continue on through this publication and the history that this landmark auction made.