Philatelic Collections - Introduction

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" and he headed the list of contributors 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 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 (formed in 1894), by building up a permanent basis for comparison. This is still true today although selected material is also displayed for the members at each AGM and specific collections are displayed at both domestic and international exhibitions when the opportunities arise.

Philatelic Collections - Current Projects and Activities

With the move to Abchurch Lane, the Philatelic Collections department now has a purpose–built environmentally controlled vault in which to store all new and existing collections. The primary future objectives will be to organise these collections into a logical and accessible format, and to continue with their digitisation in readiness for members to access them online via the membership area of the website. We already offer members access by appointment to all collections for research purposes and it is proposed that this facility will continue beyond the availability of digital images.
The current prioritised activities are to digitise the Society’s Foreign UPU Collection in its entirety, to digitise and rationalise the Society’s forgery collections into a cohesive structure, and to continue conserving those collections that are at risk of deterioration. In addition, displays are prepared for the AGM and international exhibitions.
In 2023, a selection of Natal material from the E. W. Mann Collection was showcased at the AGM to complement the Zulu Exhibition, and an extended selection from the same collection in addition to a selection from the Louis Bradbury Collection of the Bahamas was shown at the Great American Stamp Show in Ohio.
For the June 2024 AGM, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), material will be selected from the Society’s Foreign UPU Collection.
At the June 2025 AGM, material from the recently donated Scottish Philatelic Society Forgeries Collection will be shown.