Engraved memory : Stepping into history

This room will provide you with more information about how the engraving of stamps began in Mauritius

Joseph Osmond Barnard, author of the famous « Post Office » stamps was born in Portsmouth, England on 10th August 1816.

In search of new horizons, he left for France and, in 1838, stowed away on the three-master Acasta, sailing from Le Havre to Mauritius. He was twenty-two years old.

The young man was in luck because, when he reached Port Louis, the Police Superintendent, John Finniss, was lenient and allowed him to disembark. He settled in Charon Street, in the capital, near the port and then advertised his services as an engraver and miniaturist painter, in the newspapers.

In 1839, he married Jeanne Joséphine Mimi Doger de Veckranges and went to live in Monsieur Street, now Dr. Rouget Street. They had ten children.

He opened his first shop in Royal Street and, in 1842, moved to a better location in Rempart Street ( Edith Cavell Street) and from there on to La Chaussée. He was residing at the latter address when the Post Master General commissioned him to engrave the colony's first stamps, thus unwittingly putting his name down to posterity.

Unfortunately, his health deteriorated and a failing eyesight forced him to give up his trade. In 1851, he sold his business and set himself up as a ship's chandler, under the name of J. Barnard & Co.

Having made his fortune, Barnard bought, on 26th September 1862, a large property at Grand Port, at the Master’s Bar. He named it Astroea in honour of the Goddess of Justice. There he lived peacefully until his death on 30th May 1865. He was buried at Western Cemetery in Port Louis.
Read more