International Philatelic Union
The International Philatelic Union, formed 1881, was an early international philatelic organisation formed for the study of stamps and the promotion of philately generally. Its office was located in London.

Stamp exchanges

The Union was notable for establishing a stamp exchange section, the Amateur Collectors’ Exchange, thus originating the exchange packet system common in philatelic societies today.


On 23 February 1901 the Union held an important competitive exhibition at the premises of the Royal Philatelic Society
Royal Philatelic Society
The Royal Philatelic Society London is the oldest philatelic society in the world. It was founded in 1869 as The Philatelic Society, London.- Royal connections :...

 in Effingham House, Arundel Street, London. Competitors were allowed up to fifty stamps in their entry which could be in one of five classes, 1) Great Britain or a British colony, 2) A country or colony not in class one, 3) Fiscals, 4) Envelopes and Postcards, 5) Stamps not listed in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue. The winner was Vernon Roberts for early Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 stamps. The catalogue for this exhibition is available in the Crawford Library
Crawford Library
The Crawford Library is a library of early books about philately formed between 1898 and 1913 by James Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford. By the time of his death in 1913, Crawford was thought to have amassed the greatest philatelic library of his time...

, part of the British Library's Philatelic Collection
British Library Philatelic Collections
The British Library Philatelic Collections is the national philatelic collection of the United Kingdom with over 8 million items from around the world. It was established in 1891 as part of the British Museum Library, later to become the British Library, with the collection of Thomas Tapling...


Fiscal Philatelic Society

In 1920, when the Fiscal Philatelic Society
Fiscal Philatelic Society
The Fiscal Philatelic Society was an early twentieth century philatelic society that is seen as a predecessor to today's Cinderella Stamp Club and The Revenue Society...

 started to struggle, it came under the wing of the I.P.U. as their Fiscal and Local Stamp Section.


A number of distinguished philatelists, often members of the Royal Philatelic Society as well, were members of the I.P.U., including:
  • Franz Reichenheim
  • Vernon Roberts (Vice-President)
  • James Benjamin Seymour
    James Benjamin Seymour
    James Benjamin Seymour , of Great Britain, was a philatelist who created an award winning collection, and who wrote some of the key works in British philately.-Collecting interests:...

     RDP (President)
  • John Kercheval Sidebottom RDP (President)
  • Walter Beckton RDP & Lindenberg Medal
    Lindenberg Medal
    The Lindenberg Medal is an award given to those who provide “conspicuous service to philately” because of their investigations and contributions to philatelic literature.It is considered by some as the Nobel Prize of Philately.- Origin :...

  • George Bishop (Hon. Secretary 1885)
  • Lionel Fulcher RDP (Vice-President)
  • George Hamilton-Smith (Committee member)
  • Herbert Oldfield RDP (President)
  • Robert Berg
  • Sydney Rondel

RDP = Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists is a philatelic award of international scale, created by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain in 1921...


The official organ of the Union was The Philatelic Journal of Great Britain, published from 1891. As of 1938 the journal was also the official publication of the Manchester, City of London, Herts and Birmingham Philatelic Societies. In 1956 Robson Lowe
Robson Lowe
John Harry Robson Lowe , Robbie to his friends, was an English professional philatelist, stamp dealer and stamp auctioneer.- Life and career :...

 acquired the firm of P.L. Pemberton & Co.
Percival Loines Pemberton
Percival Loines Pemberton , Pem to his friends, was a British philatelist and stamp dealer who signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921...

, which included the Philatelic Journal, and eventually it was incorporated into Lowe's The Philatelist.

Further reading

  • Constitution and Rules of the International Philatelic Union and Amateur Collectors’ Exchange, I.P.U., 1881.
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