At the British Library you can study stamps and postage material. We have millions of philatelic items covering every country and period. Our collection includes airmail envelopes, original artwork and printing plates.

Collection guides

The Philatelic Reading Room in the British Library

Philatelic Reading Room

To explore our philatelic materials, please contact our Philatelic Reading Room and make an appointment.

If you can, try to contact us at least 10 days before you intend to visit. We'll ensure our experts are available to help you.

You'll need a Reader Pass

Email: philatelic@bl.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7635

Blog posts

Buddhist-themed stamps: Religious didactic tool or postal ephemera?

Friday, February 14, 2020

This is the twelfth of a series of blog posts celebrating the British Library exhibition on Buddhism, 25 Oct 2019 – 23 Feb 2020. With over five hundred million practising Buddhists, Buddhism is the fourth largest faith in the world....

From Music to Meme (1): Musical Expressions of National and Regional Identity on Postage Stamps

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The word ‘stamp’ certainly brings music to a Philatelist’s ear, yet they are also literally a musical medium for the masses! Postal authorities worldwide have issued countless postage stamps incorporating reproductions from musical manuscripts, or notations into their designs. Including...

A unique appeal from four Indian schoolgirls

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Whilst working on the collection of Thomas William Barnard Papers (Mss Eur C261), I found a fascinating letter dating from 1923. It was sent to Captain Barnard of the Indian Medical Service by four poor girls at a school in...

‘Baghdad in British Occupation’: the Story of Overprinted Stamps

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In March 1917, British forces captured the Vilayet [province] of Baghdad and took over the city from the Ottomans. Soon many administrative changes took place in the city, among which was the administration of the civil post office. One particular...

More blog posts

Library experts

Paul Skinner

Lead Curator, Philatelic Collections

Richard Morel

Curator, Philatelic Collections

External links

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British Library Philatelic Collections

A Wikipedia category list of all our collections

Royal Philatelic Society, London

The oldest philatelic society in the world