Queen Victoria stamps
R M Phillips Collection
The Phillips Collection is an essential resource for the understanding of postage stamps and philatelic research. It contains the world’s very first, first day cover – that of the Penny Black.
It also includes 1839 Treasury Essays for pre-paid postage, Rowland Hill letters and unique proofs and studies of stamps such as the Twopenny Blue and the Penny Red.
The R M Phillips Collection comprises of 2,000 album pages, which have been digitised and are available online.
During the 19th Century a number of stamps were officially removed from each sheet as gifts to important people. Collectors describe these as “imprimaturs” and sometimes the sheets are called “imprimatur sheets”.
There are some 850 in the Archive including overprints for British Bechuanaland, Oil Rivers, Levant and Zululand and also departmental overprints such as Army and Inland Revenue.
Despite this practice, we hold a complete proof sheet of the Penny Black where the different check letters had not yet been inserted into each stamp. This is the most important Victorian item in our collection.
No printing plates survive from the Victorian period. However, there are a small number of line-engraved (recess) steel dies including the “Old Original” for the Penny Black.
Submissions for the 1879 printing contract
Also included in the collection are all the submissions by various printers for the new 1879 printing contract. This changed the printing method for all stamps from recess (sometimes known as intaglio printing) to letterpress.
The best way to see all our philatelic and postal history collections is by appointment with the Senior Curator, Philately, Douglas Muir. To make an appointment, please call 020 8183 0067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.