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Africa: Stamps and philatelic materials

Our philatelic collections relating to Africa include rare items such as the first postage stamps issued in a British colony (Mauritius, 1847) and the first postage stamp issued on the continent of Africa (Cape of Good Hope). We also hold examples of later material and modern African issues.

Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope, 1855-8, 4d, deep blue/white paper. British Library Mosely collection. Copyright © The British Library Board

Our Philatelic Collections include postage and revenue stamps, postal stationery, artwork, essays, proofs, covers and entires, 'cinderella' material, specimen issues, airmails, some postal history materials, official and private posts for almost all countries and periods. With such a diverse range, the Philatelic Collections, together with philatelic books, photographs, general reference works, maps, newspapers and official publications elsewhere in the Library, make the British Library one of the prime philatelic research centres. 

The postage stamps and postal history of Africa represent a substantial part of the Library's collections of philatelic material from its pre-stamp era to the present day.


Zanzibar, 1936, Silver Jubilee of Sultan Kalif bin Harub, 20c, black and bright purple, British Library Mosely collection. Copyright © The British Library Board


Philatelic Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7635
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7780