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Philatelic Collections: The Supplementary Collection

This Collection comprises some 1,000 pages of proofs, essays, stamps and a considerable quantity of postal stationery from several sources which were donated between 1900 and 1922.

St. Helena: 1863 essays for the 1d. and 4d. surcharges.

St. Helena: 1863 essays for the 1d. and 4d. surcharges.

The donations consist of four main groups. The first, in July 1900 which came from the Crown Agents, was of British Colonial material which included some rare proofs from Messrs De La Rue, (some reprinted from Perkins Bacon Dies) imperforate and issued stamps for a number of the Crown Colonies. Examples of the die proofs, both black and white and colour, are Bermuda 1865-73, British Columbia and Vancouver Island 1861-65, Ceylon 1857-58, Jamaica 1860-63, and 1870-72, Mauritius 1858-59 ‘Britannia design’, Straits Settlements 1868, and Western Australia 1854-61.

Secondly, from October, 1900 the Crown Agents also provided a copy of all their new issues up to 1922. This group includes a number of rare items including the Straits Settlements high values of King Edward VII and King George V, and a copy of the unissued Trinidad 1896 5d surcharged 3d. After 1922 the stamps supplied by the Crown Agents form the separate Crown Agents’ Collection which is still being added to today.

Thirdly, in 1914 the British Postmaster General gave a large quantity of stamps, postcards and other postal stationery which had been sent to the United Kingdom by several West Indian Islands, who had received these items from the Universal Postal Union in Berne. Most of the British Colonial items in this group are overprinted ‘Specimen’.

Finally, the Collection contains one of only four sets of the Indian 1854-55 proofs taken from four copper plates and nine lithographic stones before they were defaced in September, 1916. These proofs were donated by The Royal Philatelic Society London.

Originally the Collection was housed in Victorian red leather albums (used by Thomas Tapling for his Collection) contained in matching slip cases. These volumes had deteriorated over the years to a point where they required replacing the album pages have been rehoused in polyester protectors, and stored in archival quality conservation boxes. One of Tapling’s albums has been preserved.

The Collection, although not on permanent display, is available for research purposes by appointment with the curatorial staff.


Philatelic Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

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