The Royal Mail Archive: Publicity: Original Artwork for Posters, Leaflets and Telegrams

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 813 POST 109
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      925 items

Scope and Content

Records including artwork commissioned by the Post Office for use in posters, leaflets and greetings telegrams. It includes artwork which was never officially used.

This class includes artwork created by designers such as Pat Keely (d. 1970) and G R Morris (fl. 1947).

Administrative / Biographical History

The material in the Archive mostly originates from within the organisation referred to as The Post Office (the name in common usage for Royal Mail and its predecessor bodies). In addition, some material has been deposited by outside agencies and individuals and some has been purchased. Material relates to the operation, policy, development and social impact of The Post Office.

The General Post Office was established in 1660 as a monopoly service, combining the functions of state postal and telecommunications carrier and spawning similar services across the British Empire. From 1660-1969 it was a State Department but in 1969 it became a statutory corporation named The Post Office. In 1981 the corporation was divided by function: into the Post Office for postal needs; and British Communications for other needs.

From early on the service was innovative for example, being the first known creator of stamps (Penny Post) in 1840. With the growth of communications The General Post Office became about more than paper deliveries within Great Britain but it was also this expansion which would see the Department split up. Design was a factor from the first, stamps required designing and the change of system required advertising. The power of advertising was used to promote The General Post Office as a service and necessity. As poster design began to expand in the early twentieth century The General Post Office increasingly used its medium and its rising stars.


At the beginning of the twentieth century, a classification system was set up; records were divided into classes by both subject and function or department. Within this overall classification system, individual series of records were given a title and a unique POST class number. This number is used to request material to be viewed in the Search Room.

Access Information

Material in the Royal Mail Archive collections is classed as public record material; this is indicated on the online and hardcopy catalogues. The material is subject to a thirty year closure period unless requested under the authority of the Freedom of Information Act (2000). In some cases, where original material is considered fragile, surrogate material must be consulted in preference.

Some copies of the material are available to view in black folders on Search Room shelves. Original material is produced on special instruction only.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue for this class not yet available. Catalogue for the Royal Mail Archive available on the website of The Postal Museum at .

Conditions Governing Use

We offer a selection of reprographic services, including scanning and photocopying (both black and white and colour copies). Users can utilise cameras and other hand-held media to make their own copies, in accordance with our photographic policy.


Royal mail : the Post Office since 1840 by M.J. Daunton ; foreword by Asa Briggs. London ; Dover, N.H. : Athlone Press, 1985.