Our October 27th-28th auction series will feature the second and final part of the “Tatiana” collection of Mauritius, which will offer 44 lots of the “Dardenne” issues.

 So-called, because the engraving of these 1d and 2d values was made by Louis Adolphe Dardenne in Port Louis, Mauritius. They were printed by lithographic stone, but it is unknown what the size of the stone was, and therefore so is the number of stamps printed on a sheet. It is thought that the printing stone consisted of two transfers of the intermediate stone, and that each printing may have consisted of 60 or 72 stamps. They were issued in December 1859, with 30,000 of the One Penny and 40,000 of the Two Pence in stock on 12 December 1859. They were issued imperforate, and printed on white or yellowish laid paper. A watermark is known, but of unknown design; part of it is found only rarely on individual stamps.

The following is an extract from the supplement to the famous Kanai sale by David Feldman in 1993, written by Arnold Rudge, which details the varieties to be found on the 2d blue:


The “Retouched Neck” variety in the Two Pence

This variety, of which there are several types, is identified by the presence of a distinct evenly curved white line passing from the base of the chignon down the nape of the neck. In the so-called ” major” or ” heavy” retouched neck the line is as described, but in the so-called ” minor” retouched neck variety the line is not so distinct, tends to be discontinuous, and does not form an evenly drawn curve as in the ” major” retouch.

The “Major” retouch

There are two types of this variety, and are distinguished by reference to the following diagrams: An examination of a large number of catalogues and collections of Mauritius stamps, referred to elsewhere, identified the existence of ten examples of Type 1, and six of Type 2. In consequence they are rare. It is understood that there may be examples in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Among those identified, there exist an unsevered pair of each type which are vital to any plating study. One of these, of uncertain type because the cancellation obscures the key area of the stamp, was offered in the Kanai sale (lot 268), together with a single (lot 269). There was also a unique cover of major philatelic importance bearing a Type 2 (lot 267).

Lot 30245 from our upcoming December 28th auction, example showing the major retouch to neck variety

The “Minor” retouch

This variety appears to be even scarcer than the “major” retouch, as only one pair (with both showing the retouch!) and four singles have been identified (Ed. Lot 30246 in the “Tatiana” sale is the second pair now recorded). A pair and one single were offered in the Kanai sale (lots 270 and 271). Comparison of this single with the left-hand stamp of the pair reveals features which confirm that these two stamps came from the same position on the plate. However, it cannot be established under what circumstances this retouching took place.

Lot 30246 in our upcoming October 28th auction, showing both minor retouch on left stamp and major retouch on right stamp, one of only two pairs recorded

The “Feather” variety of the Two Pence

Some expertising certificates for the Two Pence may refer to a “slight retouch”, and this often refers to the so-called “retouch under TWO”. This could be more accurately described as the “feather” variety, which occurs in the lower margin of the stamp below TWO and is usually joined to the outer frame of the stamp at this point. There are several identifiable types, some of which are clearly similar, and are found on more than one stamp. Kanai used these varieties as an aid to his plating study.

Lot 30222 from our upcoming October 28th auction showing “feather” flaw below “TWO”

Cut transfer variety

This variety is found in both the One Penny and the Two Pence. It can be clearly identified by the appearance of the left lower margin of the stamps having been cut away from a point below the first foot in the “W” of TWO, and sloping upwards to include a small section of the base of the left-hand margin. It is suggested that this variety is from the base of a transfer (i.e. the lower row of the intermediate stone) and resulted from trimming the transfers prior to laying them down on the stone. Consequently, in a plating study, stamps showing this variety are probable indicators of a likely junction of the transfers.

Lot 30225 from our upcoming October 28th auction, showing cut transfer variety

Silica Vein flaws

Many Dardenne stamps of both values exhibit thin white lines, which are sometimes numerous, and usually vertical on the stamp. They are caused by imperfections on the lithographic stone, and many appear to be constant and consequently therefore potentially valuable aids to plating. There are numerous examples in this collection.

Marginal Line flaw in the Two Pence

This major flaw extends vertically in the marginal space between three pairs of adjacent stamps.

Lot 30240 in our upcoming October 28th auction, showing the silica vein flaws (the white vertical line in front of the Queen’s nose on the right stamp), and the marginal line flaw at right

Ink clog flaws (acid spots) in the Two Pence

These flaws occur only in the Two Pence value. They consist of a blob of colour surrounded by a colourless ring. Various explanations for this flaw have been suggested, but for whatever reason for their development, it is likely that they occur only in the later printings. Consequently, they are not felt to be a reliable guide to plating.

Lot 30233 in our upcoming October 28th auction, showing the ink clog flaws prominently on the lower stamp in the pair attached to this large piece

Retouched Nose and redrawn Nostril
Both these features have been identified, but whether the retouched nose is a genuine retouch or simply damage at some stage of the printing process is open to doubt, so the potential value of these features as an aid to plating is unknown. Kanai felt that one stamp of a pair illustrated on page 124 of his book Classic Mauritius showed a slight retouch to the Queen’s nose.

Kanai in Classic Mauritius classified the colours of the Dardenne issues as follows:

One Penny: Blood red, Deep red, Red, Red vermilion, Vermilion, Dull vermilion

Two Pence: Grey-blue, Slate blue, Light blue, Pale blue, Blue, Bright blue Deep blue

In addition to the above colours, others have been identified by eminent Dardenne collectors, such as Rose-red (Castle), Copper-red and Red-brown (Burrus), and Bright-red (Hind).

The second part of the “Tatiana” collection of Mauritius will be offered by David Feldman in Geneva on October 28th, 2020. You can download a PDF of the catalogue or browse the listing on our website.