Library Events

The International Philatelic Libraries' Symposium has been postponed and will now take place during the London 2022 International Exhibition.  We hope you will join us there!

In 2020 we hosted some webinars, and these included some of the speakers who were planning to present in our May event and others who were unable to participate in the original Symposium. The details are shown in the 'Summer Seminar Series' tab. More online seminars are being planned for the future, and if you wish to present a paper or lead a discussion then please contact Nicola Davies on

The history of philately is a relatively new subject – either for a museum, where we think we are unique, or at least one of very few institutions, in our major collecting theme – or in philatelic literature.

Many basic facts are lacking. Complete lists of exhibitions either by type or by country are missing. Lists of exhibition catalogues, results and ephemera are incomplete. Commercial organisations involved in philately are listed in various directories, but there is no fundamental reference list. Researchers such as Brian Birch, Wolfgang Maassen, Glenn Morgan, Graham Wilson and others have worked hard to remedy this deficiency, but there is still a long way to go.

Nowhere is this more true than in the world of philatelic clubs and societies, specialist or general, geographically based, or based at a place of work. No one can answer simple questions such as ‘How many Societies were there in Great Britain?’, or ‘When did the society in Bude, Cornwall begin?’.

The Spear Museum of Philatelic History intends to rectify this lack, although it may take a long time. Chris King RDP Hon. FRPSL makes a start on revealing the history of organised philately in the British Isles in his presentation.

Register to receive free tickets for this event, which will be held at 15 Abchurch Lane and also live online via Zoom, on Eventbrite on this link: Organising philately in the United Kingdom - the first 150 years.

RPSL 9th October 2021: Methods of Stamp Printing Seminar by Dr Geoffrey Eibl-Kaye FRPSL and Paul Skinner FRPSL

At the Stamp Printing Seminar given at the Royal Philatelic Society London on 9 October 2021 there were all day displays, PowerPoint presentations, and talks on all aspects of stamp printing methods.

A memory stick was prepared for the Stamp Printing Seminar, containing 16 files of the presentations and displays.

Three of the files included on the memory stick were found to require updating, and the updated versions can now be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

RPSL 25th May 2021 Collections Seminar: The Tapling Collection in the British Library’s Philatelic Collections: A Brief Survey by Dr Richard Morel FRPSL

This presentation, live using Zoom video conferencing, provided a brief overview of the world famous Tapling Collection of postage and telegraph stamps and postal stationery now housed in the British Library’s Philatelic Collections.

It briefly considered the life and philatelic pursuits of Thomas Keay Tapling (1855-1891), the management of his collection following its bequest to the British Museum’s Department of Printed Books, as well as how it has gone on to form the foundation of the national philatelic collection. The presentation finished off by providing details about the collection for research. This presentation, given on 25th May 2021, was one in a series of Collections Seminars organised by the Royal Philatelic Society London. It was watched by an international audience of 248 people in 26 countries.

Dr Richard Scott Morel FRPSL is a Curator of the British Library’s Philatelic Collections. His interests cover postal history, stamp design, cultural history, colonial history, the East India Company, Anglo-Chinese Relations, the history of collecting, visual material culture and archival theory. In 2020, he was awarded the Tapling Medal for his article on the design of the India 1852 Half Anna Red ‘Scinde Dawk'. He is a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and a member of the American Philatelic Society, China Stamp Society and the International Banknote Society.

This free event was live via Zoom and was open to all those interested in the subject. Click here to watch the video recording of the event.

RPSL 30th March 2021 Collections Seminar: Exhibition Ephemera, by Chris King RDP Hon. FRPSL

In this seminar, which was live via Zoom video conferencing, Chris King RDP Hon FRPSL, a Past President of the Royal Philatelic Society London and the Chairman of the Society's Philatelic Committee, introduced the presentation with an overview of the kinds of exhibition ephemera that the Society collects to preserve the history of philatelic exhibitions at all levels.

Philatelic exhibitions and congresses have been part of philately since its early days, and the first exhibition was in Vienna in November 1881. These events continue throughout our history, sometimes interrupted by war, presently by a pandemic, but always resuming. They have left behind not only catalogues and medals, which are very collectable, but a plethora of ephemera. Such things as menus for dinners, advertisements for events, including trips to the countryside, talks and lectures, business cards, trade advertisements, and commemorative collectables, including stamps, miniature sheets, first day covers, and all of the commercial material that helped to pay for the event.

The primary focus of the presentation is on the ephemera supporting the stories of the 1897 and 1906 London exhibitions - exhibitions that have been overshadowed by the Golden Jubilee exhibition of 1890. Without ephemera, the story is incomplete, and many of the items are attractive, some are rare, but as times goes by, all are at risk, and it is hoped that those watching this video will find the material interesting, and perhaps be able to help build the Society's collection.

This free event was live via Zoom and was open to all those interested in the subject. Click here to watch the video recording of the event.

Royal Philatelic Society London 24 November 2020: Writing Philatelic Book Reviews by Gwynne Harries

In this live seminar event recorded on Zoom, Dr Gwynne Harries FRPSL gave a background as to the purpose of the Royal Philatelic Society London's book reviews, and the preferred process that authors and reviewers should follow. He explained the role of the reviews’ manager and how the whole process comes together for publication in The London Philatelist. The seminar aimed to allay any fears that reviewers and potential reviewers may have as to the skills or abilities that may or indeed may not be required to have a review published. Gwynne is the Book Reviews Manager for The London Philatelist. He is also the Editor of Scandinavia CONTACT, the journal of the Scandinavia Philatelic Society, and a member of the Association of Philatelic Journalists.

This free event, open to all those interested in paper and book conservation, was live via Zoom. A recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Thursday 6th August 2020, 2pm: Research in the Falkland Islands Jane Cameron National Archives.

In this seminar, Kim Stuckey FRPSL and Mike Roberts FRPSL, with input from the Falkland Islands Government Archivist Tansy Bishop, discussed how putting archive information online has assisted philatelic research of this remote territory. The Falkland Islands Government invested in a custom archives building in 1998 that houses the Jane Cameron National Archives. The discussion covered:

  • History of the Archives
  • The Facilities in the Archives Today
  • Traditional research by visiting Port Stanley
  • Research today online
  • Friends of the Archives.

Kim Stuckey and Mike Roberts have visited the archives in Stanley several times, most recently in 2014. This has led to the publishing of monographs and articles on aspects of Falklands philately. They are now users of the online facility to supplement research.

This free event was live via Zoom and was open to all those interested in the subject. Click here to watch the video recording of the event.

Thursday 23rd July 2020, 2pm: Conserving the Perkins Bacon Archives.

ICON Conservator Victoria Stevens ACR discussed the work she has done on conserving the RPSL's collection of Perkins Bacon Delivery Books.

During 2018-2020, grant funding from the Association of Independent Museums, The Pilgrims Trust, and the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust has enabled the RPSL to conserve our significant archive of Perkins Bacon & Co. This unique material reveals much about the history of security printing, and gives an important insight into the inner workings of a Victorian business in London.

During this talk, Victoria Stevens revealed how she restored these important pieces from the RPSL's collection.

This free event, open to all those interested in paper and book conservation, was live via Zoom. A recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Thursday 9th July 2020, 2pm: Copyright and Philately.

In this seminar, Prof. Charles Oppenheim FRPSL discussed the basics of copyright, as well as common issues in philatelic research and libraries, including:

  • Copyright and stamp catalogues
  • The problem of orphan works
  • Exceptions to copyright
  • Copyright and philatelic libraries
  • Licences
  • Digital issues.

Charles Oppenheim is a Visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland and is an independent consultant. He has published over 650 journal articles, conference papers, reports, books and book chapters on these subjects, including his co-authored book Information Law Compliance for Librarians, Knowledge Managers and Information Professionals.

This free event was live via Zoom and was open to anyone interested in the subject.

A recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Thursday 25th June 2020, 2pm: The Istituto di Studi Storici Postali "Aldo Cecchi" - History, Heritage, Activities.

In this talk, Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi FRPSL will discuss the foundation of the Institute, located in the Palazzo Datini in Prato (near Florence, Tuscany), Italy, and also outline its main activities and introduce some of the collections held there, including:

  • a specialized Library with a digitized catalogue, that includes over 30,000 entries of monographs and content indexing that are available online in the Italian National Collective Catalogue
  • over 1,700 journals, past and present
  • official publications of Poste Italiane, freely available online
  • around 22,000 philatelic commercial publications (sales, auctions)
  • more than 1,200 philatelic collections, freely available online
  • the archive of the High Office for Military Mail
  • collections of postcards, photographs, postmarks, postal and philatelic objects.

Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi FRPSL is the Director of the Istituto di studi storici postali "Aldo Cecchi" and Editor of its journal Archivio per la storia postale. He is Former President of the Académie Européenne de Philatélie and is currently the Vice-President of the Federation of the Italian Philatelic Societies. He has published a number of books on the postal history in Italy and its colonies.

This free event took place live via Zoom and a recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Thursday 11th June 2020, 2pm: The role of a library in a major philatelic research project in Finland

Ari Muhonen FRPSL presented a case study of the role of a library in a major philatelic research project in Finland. In 2012, five philatelists undertook an enormous research task when they decided to write a book about Finnish postage rates from 1875 until 2001 using original sources to find the rates and fees. This talk gives insight to the research process needed to compile this 400 page book and discusses the role of libraries and their collections in philatelic research.

Ari used this case study to discuss the future of the philatelic libraries and the important role that open access will play in this.

Ari Muhonen is a philatelist and the University Librarian of the Jyväskylä University. He has published three philatelic books and written more than a hundred articles in various philatelic journals and catalogues. Currently he serves as a member of the Board of the FEPA (Federation of European Philatelic Associations) as well as AIJP (Association Internationale des Journalistes Philatéliques) and as a secretary of the FIP Literature Commission.

This free event took place live via Zoom and a recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Thursday 28th May 2020 2pm: A Guide to Writing Articles for The London Philatelist

In the first seminar of the RPSL Collections Summer Series, former RPSL President Frank Walton RDP FRPSL presented his guide to writing articles for The London Philatelist, and invited discussion and questions on the topic. First published in 1892, The London Philatelist is the journal of The Royal Philatelic Society London and one of the leading philatelic journals.

Frank was Honorary Editor of The London Philatelist from 2001 to 2014 and Honorary Editor of Cameo, the journal of the West Africa Study Circle from 1996 to 2001. He has published numerous books and over 200 articles in specialist and national journals.

This free event was live via Zoom and was open to all those with an interest in philatelic writing and literature.

A recording of the event can be viewed by clicking on this link.

The Evolution of the Postcard: a talk by John Scott

On 14 November 2019, Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and postcard collector,  John Scott, informed and entertained us on the topic of the evolution of the postcard.  This event also formed part of the Postcrossing celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the first officially recognised postcard (


The Joy of Philately- People and Places: a talk by Dane Garrod

Tuesday 10th December 2019 in the Dr Paul Ramsay Room, 4th floor, 15 Abchurch Lane, London.

As always, Dane presented an entertaining and light-hearted look at philately and how it can help us uncover mysteries within our own families and glimpses into the lives of Royalty.  Dane Garrod is a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and a regular contributor to Stamp Collector magazine and Royal Mail Philatelic Bulletin.

On Saturday 28th September 2019 we held the first public event at Abchurch Lane to showcase philately and the resources of the Royal to a wider audience. 

The Dr Paul Ramsay Room provided the perfect setting for an informal afternoon discussing the preservation and potential uses of our Perkins Bacon archive.  Ian Barnes from Temple Binders explained some of the binding techniques he has used to restore our book collection and bound archives. Victoria Stevens, an ICON registered conservator, gave a lively and informative talk about her work restoring the Perkins Bacon delivery books, a project made possible by grants from Association of Independent Museums, National Manuscript Conservation Trust and The Pilgrims’ Trust. To round off the afternoon, Dr Richard Morel FRPSL gave a brief introduction to the Perkins Bacon records and the many possibilities they present for historical research.

Thank you all those involved in the organisation of the day, particularly the three speakers, and to the attendees for their enthusiastic support. 


The audience enjoying a lively Q&A session and conservator Victoria Stevens describes her restoration work on the Perkins Bacon delivery books.