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


Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7635

Blog posts

The 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award - Nominations Open!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Looking for entries now! Nominate an existing British Library staff member or a team that has done something exciting, innovative and cool with the British Library’s digital collections or data. The 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award, now in its...

From Music to Meme (2): Postage Stamps Commemorating Japanese Music Education, 1979-1981

Monday, July 27, 2020

Commodore Matthew Perry’s gunboat diplomacy opened up feudal Japan to western trade paving the way for the 1868 Meiji Restoration. To avoid the risk of colonisation, the restored Imperial government initiated a period of sustained modernisation and industrialisation, adopting western...

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...

More blog posts

Library experts

Paul Skinner

Lead Curator, Philatelic Collections

Richard Morel

Curator, Philatelic Collections

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

British Library Philatelic Collections

A Wikipedia category list of all our collections

Royal Philatelic Society, London

The oldest philatelic society in the world