It was in the early 2000s, in 2001, that the historical centre was created. In planning the Blue Penny Museum, the quality of the works of art is constantly being considered to understand, elucidate, appreciate and dream about the history of Mauritius.
Visitors can step back in time to the unusual maritime investigations that took place in the Indian Sea, before proceeding to examine the three provincial periods. In addition, this adventure into the past will undoubtedly include an attack on 18th and 19th century Port Louis. An adventure that will also examine the history of the backdrop of postal administrations, in particular a magnificent collection of primary postage stamps that will be issued in Mauritius and widely acclaimed stationery stamps. How could one not stop for a long moment through the exhibition hall to contemplate the wonderful but dramatic love story of a legendary couple, Paul and Virginia. This is one of those exceptional places that give visitors a captivating insight into the craftsmanship and history of Mauritius.
History also means coins of the time. The Blue Penny Museum in Port Louis offers the opportunity to relive history by discovering the different notes and coins that were used in Mauritius and that are closely linked to the history of the country as a whole. History will also remember that the economic relations established with the successive ruling powers and the trade relations with the neighbouring countries, will allow Mauritius to opt for different currencies, reflecting the historical orientation of the country and the political choices made.
You can then discover old currencies, such as the pennies used in the former colonial regime of France, the Spanish piaster and the escudo, which are the two currencies used worldwide for large-scale purchases and precede the advent of the French franc, the pound sterling, the sovereign or the Australian dollar. So much money that was used to fuel the local economy.
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Furthermore, one of the largest commercial banks in Mauritius, the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), was part of the same excitement as it was entrusted with the responsibility of issuing local banknotes during the colonial occupation when it was issuing a public Mauritian currency, thus before the Bank of Mauritius (BoM) came into being. However, the major change in the monetary world occurred when the Indian rupee was replaced by a new local rupee. It was in 1934, following a government order, that the new Mauritian rupee, modelled on the pound sterling, was introduced. This explains why Queen Elizabeth II appeared on the new banknotes until 1986. After that, the new series of banknotes which appeared at the end of 1987 bore the effigy of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, considered the father of the nation.
The Blue Penny Museum is also a place where the great works of art of the Island are exhibited. It was in 1881 that the colony of Mauritius, through the municipality of Port-Louis, commissioned the artist d'Epinay to create a marble sculpture inspired by the novel "Paul and Virginia". The Mauritian sculptor chose the passage from the book where Paul holds Virginie in his arms, helping her to cross a stream. This image remains the perfect illustration of this Mauritian legend to this day.
The work of art was thus brilliantly sculpted from a single block of Cararra marble. However, due to a lack of funds, the colony could not afford to purchase the statue, which remained on display in the Epinay workshop in Rome for five years. In 1886, a Portuguese collector bought it, but the statue was sold again at auction in 1997 in London. Finally, Epinay's long-awaited work arrived in Mauritius. It took more than a century for the statue to make its way into the Blue Penny Museum.
In September 2011, the legendary red and blue stamps of the Mauritius Post were brought together at the prestigious Museum for Communication, Berlin for a unique exhibition. Stamp collectors from all over the world were able to admire these stamps, which represent the best of world philately due to their rarity and fame. The visiting public was able to admire 18 of the 27 remaining specimens, out of the 1,000 that were printed in 1847.
These famous stamps were issued over 160 years ago by the British colony in Mauritius and the remaining specimens are now owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Philatelic Collection, the British Library, The Hague and Stockholm postal museums. However, in Mauritius, a number of very fortunate private collectors have these gems in their possession.
Adults: Rs 225
Children (under 7 years): free entry
Children (from 7 to 17 years): Rs 100
Students (with student card): Rs 100
Family (2 adults + 2 children maximum): Rs 500
Group / Adults (at least 10 people): Rs 175
Group / Children (at least 10 persons): Rs 75