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". This proposal was seconded and carried unanimously, and Mr. Furse headed the list of contributions by donating 'a complete set of the Roman States adhesives'. As far as can ascertained from surviving records, although the collection continued to receive additional material, the impetus appears to have been lost until May 1907 when the Furse proposal was revived and amplified. On the suggestion of H.R. Oldfield the 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 (which had been previously formed in 1894), by building up a permanent basis for comparison in anticipation of the day when the generous facilities hitherto afforded by Stanley Gibbons Limited and W.H. Peckitt, of utilising their vast and valuable stocks, must necessarily come to an end'.
Since that time a number of Members of the Society and others have made a number of generous donations ranging from single items to major collections and the list below gives an indication of the range currently available for study, together with the year of acquisition.
- Edward D.E. van Weenan: Bell's Designs for the Colony of Victoria (1924)
- Perkins Bacon Company: Proof Books (1935)
- William Thomas Lees-Jones: Canada (1936)
- David Bernhard: Nevis (1937)
- British South Africa Company: B.C.A. Overprints (1941)
- Dr Theodore Groom: Greece - Large Hermes Heads (1943)
- Louis Bradbury: Bahamas (1950)
- Eric W. Mann: Natal (1951)
- HCV Adams: Great Britain - King George V Proofs and Essays (1956)
- Colonel Donald George Lowndes: Afghanistan (1958)
- Donald Christopher Gray: Netherlands (1961)
- Francis Ernest Wood: Sungei Ujong (1964)
- Dieter Bortfeldt: Great Britain - Royal Cypher Labels (2010)