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The Postal History Society

On 26th September 1936, at the suggestion of Fred Melville, a group of eminent philatelists met at the offices of Robson Lowe. By a unanimous decision The Postal History Society was formed and a small committee appointed to draw up the rules. The objects of the Society were, and remain, the promotion and encouragement of the study of postal communications, local, national and international, to publish a journal for members and other works relating to postal history. The society can be found here:


Postal History is the story of written global communication in every form. Clay tablets, papyrus and parchment were the forerunners of today’s e-mail and world wide web.

Because the envelope did not come into general use until the 1840’s, much later in some countries, most early letters were sent as an entire with the address on the outside together with all of the relevant postal markings.

Their contents are therefore retained for posterity, unlike envelopes where more often than not the contents have been discarded over the years. We thus only have the address and postal markings to deduce the sender and destination. These early letters cover every conceivable aspect of life.

The letter or envelope can tell the historian whether it was carried on foot, on horseback, by stage coach, railway, ship, balloon, airliner or even pigeon or rocket.


Membership of the society has many benefits including:

  • Free copies of an award winning quarterly journal “Postal History”
  • Regular all-day meetings held in London and the provinces
  • Books published by the Society and other organisations at discounted prices
  • Assistance with the publication of members’ research
  • Access to an extensive library of reference works
  • Annual Conference where members see leading collections and exchange information and socialise
  • Annual auction where you can both dispose of, and acquire, interesting items
  • The chance to meet and correspond, both on your particular interests, and to learn more about new topics from experts in a wide range of subjects

Society Competitions

The society also has annual competitions for its membership (currently 310+) to enter:

The Gilbert Cup – is awarded annually for the best article published in our in-house magazine Postal History. It is presented at our annual conference.

The Society Cup – is competed for annually at Conference, usually on Saturday morning, it comprises entries of 16 x standard competition sheets with protective exhibition covers

The Presidents Prize – is a one sheet entry that is put up for display after the Conference Dinner. This is a time for ‘blue skying’ and a bit of fun. The subject should have an element of Postal History but more importantly a great deal of humour.

Society Journal

The society journal won a Gold Medal from the Italia 2018 National Exhibition of Philatelic literature.

The Society’s Journals since 1936 are in the process of being scanned and will be available on the Society’s website once this work is completed. In the meantime the Librarian will send scans of articles on application from members.


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