Pioneer airmails

Valico del Sempione Settembre 1910

Early aeroplane flights often carried stamps, envelopes and postcards as souvenirs. The British Library has important and rare survivors.

About the collection

You can see:

  • World Pioneer Airmails – an important collection that includes many rarities, with  strength in Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Siege of Paris Balloon and pigeon posts, and Newfoundland 1919 Transatlantic flight attempts (The FitzGerald Collection)
  • South African Airmails 1911 to 1960 (The Monks Collection)
  • Great Britain inland airmails to mid 1970’s , comprehensive in most areas of the subject (The Scott Collection)
  • Comet Airmail, items associated with the early development and special flights of the comet aircraft (The Seymour Collection)

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 pioneer airmails 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.