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Society Publications

One of the Society's principal objects as defined in its constitution is " print, publish, issue and circulate, or contribute to the expenses of production of such papers, periodicals, books, circulars and other literary undertakings as may seem necessary for the objects of the Society". Over the years the Publications Committee has played no small part in implementing this objective.

Since its inception, the Society has produced many major works relating to philately which represent the latest state of knowledge on the subject at the time of publication. In some cases, they have remained the standard reference for over 50 years.

The first major work published by the Society was Catalogue of Postage Stamps, Stamped Envelopes and Postcards: Spain and Colonies in 1878, and this was followed in 1881 by the seminal publication The Postage and Telegraph Stamps of Great Britain by Philbrick and Westoby, a technical study against which all future publications would be judged.

It was not until 1890 that the first Publications Committee was appointed. It was a formidable team of three of the most famous philatelists of their generation, namely T.K. Tapling, E.D. Bacon and Major E.B. Evans, together with the Honorary Secretary, Douglas Garth.

Over the intervening years many works have been published, from erudite and detailed studies to more general books on wider subjects. The high standard set in those early days has been maintained up until the present day. The publications are too numerous to detail here but one work worthy of mention is Perkins Bacon Records by Percy De Worms in 1953, a detailed listing of many of the secrets that are in the Perkins Bacon archives. To this day this book remains one of the primary research sources for those studying the design, printing and production of the early stamps of most British Colonies and several foreign countries.

Among recent publications was The Stamps and Postal History of Nineteenth Century Samoa which will remain the definitive study of this Pacific Island for many years to come. It sold out within 12 months of publication.


The Paper Trail: World War II in Holland and its Colonies as Seen through Mail and Documents

by Kees Adema RDP FRPSL and Jeffrey Groeneveld. Published February 2018.

The Paper Trail tells the story of the postal history of Holland and its colonies during World War 2 in a fresh and compelling way. The book weaves together the evidence of mail and other documents – letters, cards, diaries, cards, photographs, personal memorabilia and the like – into a distinctive narrative. The focus is on the lives and experiences of ordinary people, individually and collectively, and the impact upon them of occupation, unprovoked and accidental bombing, famine (at times), and in many cases persecution, forcible removal and, at worst, extermination in the concentration camps. A myriad of correspondence has been unearthed from family records and, through this book, brought to a wider public for the first time.

The authors' approach is broadly chronological – starting with the events leading up to war, the severing of postal connections within and beyond Europe, the entry into the war of the USA, the refugee camps and the ghettos, censorship and control over mail by the occupying powers, and later liberation and eventual adjustment to post-war conditions.

World War 2 is very personal to both authors. While Kees Adema's family lived in Arnhem during Operation "Market Garden", Jeffrey Groeneveld's was in the Dutch East Indies during the Japanese occupation. Their family backgrounds add a strong element of poignancy to their story.

This much-illustrated book runs to 700 pages, and is priced at £70 (£63 for members of the Society) plus postage and packing. It can be purchased from the online Shop; click here for details.

The Returned Letter Offices of Great Britain to 1912 and Beyond

by J. Kenneth Snelson and Robert B. Galland FRPSL. Published January 2018

The book, arranged in 3 parts, provides postal historians and collectors of UK postal history with a comprehensive reference on the handling of undeliverable mail, the history of the Returned Letter Offices (RLOs), the stationery of the RLOs and the rules and procedures used in the RLOs.

  • Part A handles the history of the RLOs based on extensive research in PO archives, including information on some of the PO officials who were influential.
  • Part B lists the stationery of the RLOs including wrappers and envelopes used to enclose returned mail and forms and labels used. This is the first comprehensive listing since Dendy Marshall's listing of wrappers and envelopes in 1940.
  • Part C presents a collection of documents, rules and procedures relating to the treatment of undeliverable mail, including complete transcripts of the rules as they were in 1897 and again in 1917.

The wide range of stationery used is listed. In 1912 most returned letter work was moved to Head Post Offices and several RLOs were closed. The book shows the effects of these changes.

This well illustrated book, which runs to nearly 500 pages, can be purchased from the online Shop; click here for details.

RPSL Members' Collections 2019

For our 150th anniversary, the RPSL will publish a permanent and representative record of how and what RPSL members collect in 2019. Each page of the book will be a scan of the complete sheet(s) submitted by Fellows and Members, all of whom are eligible to contribute and can submit as many pages as they wish. Click here for more information.

Baghdad in British Occupation: The Story of the 1917 Provisional Stamps

by Freddy Khalastchy FRPSL. Published January 2017

Spring Stampex 2017 featured a special display devoted to the stamps of the Ottoman Empire and the countries emerging from it after the end of World War 1. The display had a special emphasis on Iraq to mark the centenary of the country’s first stamps, which were issued in Baghdad in September 1917, following the occupation of the region by British and Indian troops in March of that year. On display were eight frames devoted to the Baghdad stamps and a further 50 frames devoted to the stamps of Iraq from 1918 until the end of the monarchy in 1958.

The “BAGHDAD IN BRITISH OCCUPATION” stamps have always been desired by collectors of Iraq and British Colonies both because they were the first stamps issued in Iraq and also as a significant issue of World War 1. Since quantities printed were relatively small and all the values were exhausted from the Baghdad Post Office just seventeen days after they were put on sale, they fetched high prices from the very beginning. Numerous articles have been written about this issue over the years but none in great detail.

There has never been a proper census of the errors, while the covers bearing these stamps have not previously received the attention they deserve; no one really knew how many existed. This issue also had a political motive for its existence. Sir Percy Cox, the Chief Political Officer in Iraq, thought that the stamps would annoy the enemy and would also indicate the change of administration whereby the British replaced the defeated Turks. Much correspondence was exchanged between Iraq and the India Office, with the occasional involvement of King George V, before these stamps were eventually issued.

This book explains why and how the stamps were issued, and presents a full record of all known errors and covers as a reference for future collectors. The book was awarded a Large Gold Medal at Spring Stampex 2017. It is offered as a contribution to the philatelic history of Iraq, in the hope that readers will find it useful and informative.

This book, which runs to 320 pages, can be purchased from the online Shop; click here for details.

British Letter Mail to Overseas Destinations 1840 to UPU

by Jane Moubray and Michael Moubray

Unfortunately, page 307a was inadvertently omitted from this recently published book. The missing page can be downloaded in pdf format here.

British Letter Rates Page 307a

We apologise for the omission.

The Postal History of the Oxford Union Society

by Vincent West FRPSL Published February 2012
Addenda and Corrigenda can be downloaded on this link

Swaziland Philately to 1968

Unfortunately, page 59 has some characters missing from the page. A replacement pdf is available here.

Replacement for Page 59

We apologise for the error.

The King George VI Large Key Type Revenue and Postage High Value Stamps 1937–1953

Corrections And Amendments - March 2009 by Eric Yendall

Click here