Artwork for postage stamps

Cayman Islands stamp design featuring illustration of an iguana's head in profile

The British Library has original artwork prepared in the production of postage stamps.

About the collection

Within our collections of issued stamps there is a wide range of styles of 19th and 20th-century graphic design. These are worldwide in extent.

The collections include:

  • over 50,000 items of artwork for British Commonwealth countries, mostly from 1960-2010
  • a small collection of artwork by David Gentleman
  • Goya original etchings Disparate Volante and Modo de Volar used as the basis for the design for some of Spain 1930 Goya centenary stamps.

What is available online?

The Global Philatelic Library provides many online resources. You'll find over a million digitised pages from our Crawford Collection of early philatelic literature.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

You can study original philatelic artwork items in our Philatelic Reading Room. You’ll need to make an appointment to use this Reading Room. If you can, please contact us at least 10 days before your visit. Our experts will be on hand to advise. Call us on 020 7412 7635 or email:

Other Reading Rooms are available if you want to read philatelic books or journals. Search our catalogue, Explore the British Library, to find publications.