Royal Philatelic Society London

The Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) is the oldest philatelic society in the world. It was founded on 10 April 1869 as The Philatelic Society, London.[2][3] The society runs a postal museum, the Spear Museum of Philatelic History, at its headquarters in the City of London.

The Royal Philatelic Society London
Formation10 April 1869; 155 years ago (1869-04-10)
TypeLearned societies
Headquarters15 Abchurch Lane
London EC4N 7BW UK
Coordinates51°31′17.2″N 0°08′59.1″W / 51.521444°N 0.149750°W / 51.521444; -0.149750
Membership (2017)
2,200 in 80 countries[1]
Awaiting Patronage
Michael J Y Roberts Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
The Philatelic Society, London (1869–1905)


The former premises of the society at 41 Devonshire Place on the corner with Devonshire Street

The society was founded on 10 April 1869 at a meeting at 93 Great Russell Street in the rooms of the stamp dealer J.C. Wilson. The first officers elected were the president, Sir Daniel Cooper, the vice-president, Frederick A. Philbrick, and the secretary, W. Dudley Atlee. The committee comprised Edward Loines Pemberton, Charles W. Viner, Thomas F. Erskine, Joseph Speranza, and W. E. Hayns.

Permission to use the prefix "Royal" was granted by King Edward VII in November 1906.[4]

Prince George, the Duke of York (future George V), was an enthusiastic stamp collector. He served as honorary vice-president of the society from 1893 to 1910. His father, King Edward VII, had a large stamp collection that he gave to Prince George, which became known as the Royal Philatelic Collection.[5] When he was crowned King, George V stayed with the Society as its royal patron.[6] His second son, George VI, continued to expand the royal collection.[5]

The former patron was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Every September, at a special meeting of the society, part of the Royal Philatelic Collection is displayed by its keeper. Queen Elizabeth was not known to be a philatelist herself, but the royal family has maintained and added to the collection passed down by Edward VII.

The organisation celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2019.[1] The anniversary was marked by a visit from its patron, Queen Elizabeth II, on 26 November 2019 when she opened the Society's new Headquarters in Abchurch Lane, London EC4.


The front cover of the first number of The London Philatelist, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1892.

"The Royal," as it is known, has 2,200 members in dozens of countries, with the highest numbers of members in the United Kingdom and the United States. Members are of two classes, fellows and members. Fellows are entitled to use the post-nominals "FRPSL" (Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London).[7]

Fellows are elected from members based on service to the society and to philately. The society publishes a journal, The London Philatelist, which includes articles, book reviews, society news, advertisements, and other items.



The principal objects of the society are:[6]

  1. To promote, encourage and contribute to the advancement of the science and practice of philately.
  2. To inform members of the Society on all matters affecting any of its objects by meetings, discussions, displays, lectures, correspondence or otherwise; to assist and carry out philatelic research, and to print, publish and issue such papers, periodicals, books, circulars or other literary matters in support of these objects.
  3. To hold, either alone or jointly with others, promote, or subscribe, or assist with international or other philatelic exhibitions in the UK or elsewhere, and to offer and award prizes, medals or other recognition in connection with such exhibitions or for any literary work connected with philately.
  4. To establish and maintain a library and collections of stamps, designs, proofs, essays and other articles of interest relating to any of the objects of the Society.

Awards and medals


The society awards the Crawford Medal for the most valuable and original contribution to the study and knowledge of philately published in book form during the two years preceding the award.

The society also awards these silver medals:

  • The Tilleard Medal for the best large display of any aspect of philately given by one, or not more than two, fellows or members during the relevant period.
  • The Lee Medal for the best paper dealing with any aspect of philately given by one fellow or member during the relevant period.
  • The Tapling Medal for the best paper written by a fellow or member and published in The London Philatelist during the relevant period.

Officers and Council


All officers and members of Council are listed on the society's website.[8]

See also



  1. ^ a b "The Royal Philatelic Society London to celebrate 150th Anniversary". International Federation of Stamp Dealers' Associations. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  2. ^ "The Royal Philatelic Society, London. 1869 – April 10th – 1929." by Percy de Worms in The London Philatelist, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 447, March 1929, pp. 52–56.
  3. ^ Temple, Peter (2004). Superhobby Investing: Making Money from Antiques, Coins, Stamps, Wine, Woodland and Other Alternative Assets. Harriman House Limited. p. 227. ISBN 9781897597330. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  4. ^ The Philately of the Edwardian Era as shown in its Literature by David Beech, Barnet & District Philatelic Society, 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013. Archived here.
  5. ^ a b Alexander, Marc (2005). Companion to the Royal Heritage of Britain. The History Press. p. 272. ISBN 9780752495033. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b Missions Statement of the Royal Philatelic Society London (PDF). Royal Philatelic Society London. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  7. ^ Titles and Forms of Address: A Guide to Correct Use. Bloomsbury Publishing. 2014. p. 26. ISBN 9781408103098. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  8. ^ "The Royal Philatelic Society London". Retrieved 2017-01-31.

Further reading

  • Butler, A. Ronald. The Expert Committee, 1894-1994. London: Royal Philatelic Society, 1994. 32p. (Supplement to London Philatelist Vol. 103 (April 1994)).
  • Rogers-Tillstone, Benjamin. The Royal Philatelic Society, London, 1869-1969. London: Royal Philatelic Society, 1969. ISBN 0-900631-00-7, 192 pages
  • Worms, Baron Percy de. The Royal Philatelic Society, London: 1869 - April 10, 1919. London: Royal Philatelic Society London, 1919, 128 pages