British stamps

Our collection comprises registration sheets, essays (trial stamps) and proofs of all stages of British stamp production from 1840 to the present day. We also hold selected metal dies and printing plates.

From 1924 the collections include all artwork, adopted and unadopted, for all issued and some un-issued stamps. Material is constantly added to the collections as we receive around 500 pieces of stamp artwork from Royal Mail every year.

Also included in our collection are stamps for overseas territories produced under the auspices of the British Post Office. This includes some artwork and essays. We also hold some material on stamps for British colonies. These were produced by the Royal Mint or the Inland Revenue at Somerset House.

The final element of our British stamps is the De la Rue material. This contains the correspondence and day books of the stamp printers De La Rue to about 1940. These are available in microfilm format in our Archive Discovery Room.


If you have a question about the collection or would like to see material in person please send your enquiries to [email protected]

  • Queen Victoria stamps

    For the stamps of Queen Victoria there are two major aspects to The Postal Museum's public record collections - the R M Phillips Collection and unique registration (imprimatur) sheets.

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  • Edward VII stamps

    Most Edwardian stamps used the same or similar frames around the portraits to those of the late Victorian period.

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  • George V stamps

    Our collection of King George V stamps reflects the fact that his reign saw many "firsts" for British stamps.

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  • Edward VIII stamps

    Although only four postage stamps were issued for the reign of King Edward VIII there is still a wealth of material in The Postal Museum collections.

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  • George VI stamps

    Our collections contain all of the artwork (adopted and unadopted) and essays for the definitive and commemorative stamp issues of George VI’s reign.

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  • Elizabeth II stamps

    Our collection of Elizabeth II registration sheets and stamp artwork illustrates the modern evolution of stamp design.

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