Welcome to The Royal Philatelic Society London's Virtual Booth


The Society's Collections

The RPSL collections comprise:

  • The John Sacher Library
  • The Spear Museum of Philatelic History
  • The Philatelic Collections.

Our purpose-designed library is open to the public, and RPSL Members can borrow books, either in person or by post.

Appointments can be booked to access rare and archival material in our research room, or our staff can deal with requests via email or telephone.
For further information contact research@rpsl.org.uk

Museum Exhibitions
We have a permanent display on the ground floor, and we run a series of temporary exhibitions. Visitors are warmly welcome to visit the museum and follow a self-guided tour, or private tours (individuals or groups) are available at £5 per person.

Click this link to see an introduction to the Society's collections.


Preservation and Conservation
We help preserve and conserve philatelic history and resources, including through:

  • Working with philatelic societies to digitise their journals.
  • Being a founding partner of the Global Philatelic Library, working with institutions worldwide to improve access to philatelic literature.
  • Recently undertaking a grant-funded project to restore and conserve the historic Perkins Bacon & Company's delivery books.

We run a variety of public events, both on the premises and online, to promote philately as a hobby, and as a subject for academic research. Information about recent online events is available here.

Future events

  • International Philatelic Libraries’ Symposium February 2022
  • Clash of Empires - an exhibition on the Zulu war August 2022
  • Online seminars - the next one will be on 30th March 2021: Exhibition Ephemera presented by Chris King RDP Hon FRPSL.
    This is free and open to everyone, both RPSL members and non-members. You can book your place for this by clicking here.

Click this link to see a talk on conserving the Perkins Bacon & Company's delivery books.


To keep up to date with events follow us on Facebook @royalphilsoclondon and Twitter @The_RPSL

All this is made possible by a dedicated and enthusiastic team of volunteers who support our professional staff.


To read more about our collections' holdings, you can click to expand the sections below to see the details.


The John Sacher Library holds one of the most significant collections of philatelic literature in the world, comprising:




  • Our collection of 25,000 books, monographs and pamphlets, arranged by country plus sections on:
    • Airmail
    • Forgeries
    • Military Mail
    • Maritime Mail
    • Thematic Philately
    • A general section consisting of books on topics such as philatelic personalities, exhibiting, design & printing, societies and collecting.

The late John Sacher CBE FRPSL

  • Our Rare Book collection, containing numerous true gems of philatelic literature.
  • Our Reference section that includes a range of research aids such as bibliographies, indexes, philatelic dictionaries, and atlases.
  • Stamp catalogues, including specialised catalogues for many collecting areas and a near complete range of Stanley Gibbons catalogues.
  • Over 3,700 distinct journal titles, including some of the earliest produced philatelic periodicals from the 1860s and over 230 active titles.
  • Over 28,000 auction catalogues from auction houses around the world, including from the 1870s and rarities from the 1930s.





Our library, a member of the Independent Libraries Association, is named in honour of
the late John Sacher CBE FRPSL, President of our Society 2007-2009.
Our online catalogue contains information on all our holdings https://www.rpsl.org.uk/Catalogue
For Quick Links to some of our resources go to





The Spear Museum of Philatelic History, which includes our Archives, is named to commemorate the extremely generous gift of £750,000 made to the Society by the Trustees of the Spear Charitable Trust.
It is an Arts Council England Accredited museum and collects material on the following main themes:



  • RPSL History
    This collection includes items associated with the RPSL and its members. It includes commemorative items, photographs, records, correspondence, minutes and items used in the day-to-day running of the Society. This part of the collection dates from the foundation of the Society to the present day.
    Click this link for a short video about a silver tea service given by The Duke of York in 1895.
    Click this link for a brief presentation about the Society's medals.
  • Philatelic Organisations
    Records include papers, photographs, and memorabilia related to philatelic organisations.
  • Philatelic Collecting
    This collection illustrates the method and practice of philately from the emergence of the activity to the present day. Items in the collection include the equipment used, such as magnifiers, perforation gauges, stamp hinges and tweezers.
  • Philatelic Studies
    This comprises specific studies, research notes, photographs and records on a variety of subjects, all with a philatelic connection.

  • Postal Services Accessories and Administrations
    This collection includes objects used by postal services from around the world. The majority of items we currently hold were produced in Great Britain and designed for worldwide use.
  • Philatelic Exhibitions
    The Museum holds a unique collection of commemorative items, exhibition medals, papers, photographs, videos and memorabilia from philatelic exhibitions. These date from the earliest philatelic exhibitions (in the late 19th century) to the present day.
    Click this link to see an introduction to our collection about Philatelic Exhibitions.
  • Philatelic and Security Printing
    The collection spans from the emergence and spread of philatelic and security printing to the present day. The Museum also holds the Perkins Bacon archive as well as prints from Waterlow & Sons Ltd, Grover technical drawings and De La Rue correspondence.
    Click this link for a recording of a seminar on conserving Perkins Bacon & Co.'s records.
  • Philatelic Trade
    Records related to the philatelic trade, including advertising, dealers and publishers.


All collections held by the Society are available for members to view and study under restricted and secure conditions. If you wish to view a collection, please contact the Curator, Philatelic Collections, stating your interest, collections that you would like to view and reason (if any) for research.
Together with a number of smaller collections, and many individual items, we hold the following major collections (click on the symbol to view a selection of items from the philatelic collections):


  • H.C.V. Adams Collection - King George V Great Britain Essays and Proofs
    View this collection here.
  • David Bernhard Collection - Nevis
    View part of this collection here.
  • Dieter Bortfeldt Collection - Great Britain Cypher Labels
  • Louis Bradbury Collection - Bahamas
  • Dr. Ray Ceresa Collection - Armenia and Russia Forgeries
  • Col. A. W. Chambers Collection - Great Britain
  • Clements Collection - Tasmania
  • T. E. Clougher Collection - Canada and Prince Edwards Island
  • David Cohen and Lt. Col. J.B.M. Stanton Collection - Chalon Head
  • Dr. Theodore Groom Collection - Greece Large Hermes Heads
  • James Cummings Collections - Australia, Denmark, Great Britain, Norway, New Zealand


  • Donald C. Gray Collection - Netherlands 1852-1970
    View part of this collection here.
  • Richard William Thomas Lees-Jones Collection - Canada
  • Walter Manley Holman - King George V 1935 Silver Jubilee
  • P. C. Swann Collection - Newfoundland
  • Universal Postal Union Foreign Collection
  • Edward Desiré Ermanos van Weenan Collection - Tasmania and Victoria
  • Winstanley Collections - Great Britain, South Africa, S.W. Africa, British Empire
  • Dr. Francis Ernest Wood Collection - Sungei Ujong
  • The British Somaliland Collection
  • Ian Paton Collection - American Panorama 1492-1912
    View this collection here.


Please note that it is not practicable to view the material on meeting days.
You can contact the Curator, Philatelic Collections by letter or email.
Please write to:
Curator, Philatelic Collections
The Royal Philatelic Society London
15 Abchurch Lane
London EC4N 7BW
Or email: philateliccollections@rpsl.org.uk