The Society's Library is among its most significant philatelic assets. It contains an unparalleled collection of philatelic literature from all over the world. Items may be consulted in comfortable surroundings in the Large Library and Small Library on the ground floor.
A list of items held in the Library is available (to Members only, when logged in) via the Catalogue - click on 'Search the Catalogue' above.
The library material is currently housed in five locations on three floors in the Society's building.
A member of the Library Committee maintains each of the major sections on a voluntary basis, supported by the secretarial staff and the House Manager.
It is classified under seven main headings:
... including library catalogues and indexes.
Monographs and Handbooks
... subdivided into sections for Great Britain, Commonwealth, foreign countries and general philately. Many specialist volumes are limited editions and of considerable value to researchers world wide.
Periodicals published in English and foreign languages are held in nearly complete or complete runs in a comprehensive collection of the world's general and specialist publications which would be impossible to assemble today. The Society receives copies of up to 300 periodicals each year with 2,400 titles held, the earliest dating from 1879.
... produced by the organisers of all major international, UK national and other specialist meetings. This provides valuable information on events generally, lists of exhibitors and awards made. The literature frequently includes philatelic information and articles not available elsewhere.
The Society uses a library cataloguing system called Heritage and this now includes all books held at 41 Devonshire Place with more than 10,000 volumes listed. Searching the Catalogue will allow philatelic bibliographies to be shown for any search terms entered. Ian Crane and his team are continuing to develop this resource which will now be searchable at home by all members.
Library Stamp Catalogues
More than 2,250 stamp catalogues are available for research ranging from 1861 with Alfred Potiquet's illustrated stamp catalogue, which was the first in the world. to the present day.
Stamp catalogues published by Stanley Gibbons in a nearly complete range from the early 1900s. Good runs of other internationally-recognised catalogues published abroad are also held. These provide information for a wide range of collecting interests.
We have an extensive collection of auction catalogues with over 11,000 catalogues, including named and general sales from more than 250 auction houses. The strength lies in the period from the 1930s but some date back to 1872, with not only British sales but with strength in European and North American auction houses.
Within the RPSL Catalogue information includes the name of the auction house, the location of the auction and the date. The names of vendors and the subject-matter (e.g. country or theme) of the sales are included in many instances.
Other research material including articles, personal research notes, copies of collections and displays, Commonwealth gazettes and Post Office guides. All of these are consulted from time to time during the course of a research project.
The Main Library
The Main Library
The Small Library