Chinese stamps

The British Library's collections of Chinese stamps are a powerful reminder of the social and political changes that have taken place in the country from the mid-19th century onwards.

About the collection

Special coverage:

  • The Murray Collection – 1875-1950(c.) a three volume collection with important 1897 surcharged issues.
  • The Hencke Collection – 1912-1986 with representations of 1944-49 Communist Border issues and 1966-76 Cultural Revolution period.
  • China Postal Circulars – 1897-1900 [Circulars 1-32], 1900-1902 [Circulars 33-61].
  • Postal Atlas of China, (1919).

General and specialised coverage in the following collections:

  • The Tapling Collection (World includes Imperial Customs Post 1875-88, and a fine section of Shanghai Municipal Post 1865-66 Dragons.)
  • The Supplementary Collection (World)
  • The General Collection (World)
  • The Universal Postal Union Collection (World)
  • The FitzGerald Collection (Pioneer Airmails - World)

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 Chinese stamps 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: 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

Find Chinese manuscripts and printed books

There are several catalogues for our Chinese material

Get a Reader Pass

Access over 200 million collection items for free with a Reader Pass. Carry out research in our Reading Rooms and access our online collections.