World’s Oldest and Most Historic Letters Come to London

Philately Gets Everywhere!

Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon, the American War of Independence, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s proclamation to the City of Augsburg, and General Gordon’s defence of Khartoum. These are just a few of the world’s major historic events that are brought vividly to life at Europhilex 2015, Europe’s largest philatelic exhibition in London next month.


On display will be an unprecedented collection of documents and philatelic memorabilia that records, not only the development of the postal system that we know today, but also some of the most important events in world history.


The largest philatelic exhibition in Europe since 2010, Europhilex will also celebrate the 175th anniversary of the introduction of the Penny Black, the world’s first ever postage stamp.


Visitors to London’s Business Design Centre (Islington) between 13th and 16th May, will have an almost unique opportunity to view the ‘tax stamps’ that led to the American’s Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Holy Roman Emperor’s Augsburg proclamation in 1551, together with documents such as Robert the Bruce’s letter conceding lands in return for arms to fight for Scotland’s independence in 1326; Edward Seymour, the Lord Protector’s desperate plea for funds, with a number of high profile signatories, on behalf of his young nephew, King Edward VI, in 1547; correspondence from Gordon in Sudan; and of course one of the five letters that Neil Armstrong sent from the Moon to relatives and friends.


Some 300,000+ stamps in total, worth around £50+ million, will also be on display, including, not only the Penny Black, but also Europe’s most expensive stamp, the 1857 Swedish three skilling banco yellow, valued at £2.5 million.


At the same time, the exhibition tells the story of the creation and delivery of written documents, from the clay tablets sent by Mesopotamians in 3000 BC, to the establishment of the Post Office in 1635 under Charles I, the invention of the postage stamp in 1840, and the delivery of mail from the Moon in 1969. Included is one of the oldest known privately-owned parchment letters, written in 1190.


Other fascinating historical artefacts on display are the first document to have made the transatlantic crossing, in 1512, just 20 years after Columbus; letters carried by the first ever postal service, established by the Tassis family to aid communication within the vast Habsburg empire in the late 1400s; Mulready ‘prepaid’ envelopes, developed at the same time as the ‘Penny Black’; the first air mail, carried by balloon in 1786; and the recently unearthed printing plate for the first stamps of Mauritius, the first British colony to issue stamps. Intriguing tales of mail and message delivery during wartime and other historic events are also recounted in detail.


Around 20,000 visitors are expected at Europhilex 2015, which will host nearly 400 exhibitors.

Press / Media conference

Journalists are invited to attend a media conference in room C at the Business Design Centre, Islington, at 9.00 am on 13th May, the first day of Europhilex.

About philately

 Well known collectors include Nicolas Sarkozy and Janet Yellen (President of the Federal Reserve). Owners of great collections, although not collectors themselves, are HM Queen Elizabeth and Prince Albert of Monaco.

International Philatelic exhibitions have been held around the world since 1890. The most recent was in Bangkok in 2014 and the next, in 2016, will be in Singapore.

Exhibition opening times

  • Wednesday 13th May 2015: 1000 – 1900 – entry £10 per person all day
  • Thursday 14th May 2015: opening times: 1000 – 1800 entry free
  • Friday 15th May 2015: opening times: 1000 – 1800 entry free
  • Saturday 16th May 2015: opening times: 1000 – 1700 entry free