Great collections: The classic Mauritian rare stamp collections of Vikram Chand

Vikram Chand was born in Osaka, Japan, and finished his schooling there before travelling to London, England for his degree.

He graduated in Business Management from Richmond College/ London University, London and did further studying at Sotheby's Academic Institute of Arts in London. As a result of his travels, he is bilingual.

He began his career as General Manager at Hermanos Kaybee, Hongkong in 1983, later becoming Director of Kaybee Japan Corp Osaka, Japan.  In 1993 he moved to Singapore and was designated as Managing Director of Kaybee Exim Pte Ltd - now the Group headquarters, in Singapore.

In 2004, the group decided to expand from its core business of Yarns, Fashion Fabrics and Apparel into the Food & Beverage business, for which Vikram is currently nurturing Vega Foods in Singapore with a focus on selling in Africa and parts of Asia.

He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization, and is currently their Membership Chair.

Outside the business world, Chand is best known for his passion for stamp collecting, and in particular for the rare early stamps of Mauritius which have so fascinated the world.

As seasoned philatelists will know the tiny island of Mauritius, to the east of South Africa and the much larger island of Madagascar, was the first country in the British Empire outside Britain itself to make use of postage stamps, with their 1d red (or orange) and 2d blue resembling Britain's Penny Black and Twopenny Blue.

The first of these were created in limited numbers for a ball which the governor's wife wished to throw, with the words 'Post Office' appearing along the side. Thereafter, this phrase was changed to 'Post Paid'.

Tracking down the early stamps of Mauritius, especially the handful of 'Post Office' examples, has proved to be almost an obsession for several collectors and Chand has made himself one of the most successful.

His collection: Postage Stamps of Mauritius from 1848 to 1859 has earned itself a place in the British Library Philatelic Collection (on loan). The cornerstone of his collection was one of the original Ball Invitation covers, which came up for sale at David Feldman auctions in Geneva a couple of years back.

The Ball Envelope sports one of the 'Post Office' 1d stamps issued in Mauritius in 1847 just at the time the Governor's wife, lady Gomm, was preparing invitations to a Fancy Dress Ball. The stamps were first used to pay the postage for sending out the invitations.

Post Office Mauritius Ball Invitation
'Post Office' Mauritius Ball Invitation (British Library version)
(Click to enlarge)

Only three such covers are known to survive today: the British Library Museum holds one, another is owned by Queen Elizabeth II as a treasure of the Royal Philatelic Collection. The third went under the hammer in October 2008 with Mr Chand winning out.

The final price was not given, but it was insured for $4m.

Vikram Chand commented that he always found it ironic that his collecting interests should have brought him to purchase this world famous item from far-flung Mauritius which was part of the collection of Hiroyuki Kanai - a near neighbour.

"I am delighted that this marvellous world rarity, is passing into the hands of such a passionate collector. The sale is also a tribute to the confidence and belief in the market of rare stamps", auctioneer David Feldman enthused at the time.

Port Louis to Plaine Wilhelms cover
Exceptional 1859 Mauritius cover from Port Louis to Plaine Wilhelms
Recently offered at Spink from the Chand collection (est £40,000)

Anyone wishing to follow the footsteps of Vikram Chand and study the stamps of Mauritius or any other piece of philatelic history may wish to seek some help - courtesy of the man himself.

The Chand A and Z Research Fund for Classic Philately, administered by the Royal Philatelic Society of London, makes grants to aid research and scholarship which leads to publication of classic philately (defined as to about 1900).


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