At the 16th April 1870 meeting of the Philatelic Society, London, the Treasurer Mr. P. Furse, proposed that "A postal collection be formed by the Society". This proposal was seconded and carried unanimously, and Mr. Furse headed the list of contributions by donating 'a complete set of the Roman States adhesives'. As far as can be ascertained from surviving records, although the collection continued to receive additional material, the impetus appears to have been lost until May 1907 when the Furse proposal was revived and amplified. On the suggestion of H.R. Oldfield, the Council made the important decision to form a reference collection of stamps, forgeries, reprints, photographs and other objects of value for reference. The primary purpose was 'to assist the Expert Committee (which had been previously formed in 1894), by building up a permanent basis for comparison in anticipation of the day when the generous facilities hitherto afforded by Stanley Gibbons Limited and W.H. Peckitt, of utilising their vast and valuable stocks, must necessarily come to an end'.
With the recent move to Abchurch Lane, the Philatelic Collections department has at its heart the significant task of re-organising the society’s collections into a logical and accessible format, as well as continuing with the digitalising of collections in readiness for members to access online. Our timescale for this work is to have completion by mid-January 2020 and consequently until then, it will not be possible for members to request access to collections, except under very special circumstances. We apologise for this but feel sure you will understand the necessity for the slight delay.
From mid-January 2020 we plan to offer full access to all collections for research purpose and make available many of the collections online to members via the membership area of the website.
You may be interested to know that the Philatelic Collections department is managed by a team of just four volunteer members, being Alan Huggins (Curator), Barrie Wright (Assistant Curator), Ivan Metchev and Damian Devoy. The current prioritised activities are to prepare the full collections resource for member access, complete the digitalisation of the major collections, re-organise the 1971-1985 UPU material into archival format and continue with conservation of those collections that are at risk of deterioration.
A selection of material will be showcased at the June 2020 AGM.