Banknotes

The British Library has important archives of banknotes from the Crown Agents, and of English Treasury Notes. You can also study India Office Notes by appointment with our philatelic experts.

About the collection

You can see:

  • Banknotes of the British Commonwealth, with essays, proofs and specimen notes. Many unique items, (The Crown Agents Philatelic and Security Printing Archive).
  • Great Britain 1914-28 Treasury notes – complete proof sheets, (The Board of Inland Revenue Stamping Department Archive).
  • British Commonwealth Postal Orders  from Queen Victoria to early Queen Elizabeth II, (The Crown Agents Philatelic and Security Printing Archive).
  • Banknotes of India (and some Burma) from the India Office Records can also only be seen by appointment with Philatelic Collections.

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 banknotes in our Philatelic Reading Room. You’ll need to make an appointment to use this Reading Room. Our experts will be on hand there to advise. Please call us at least 10 days before your visit on 020 7412 7635 or email: philatelic@bl.uk.

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

How to guides

Get a Reader Pass

Access over 170 million collection items for free with a Reader Pass.