Postal and philatelic archives

The philatelic collections, which bring together nearly one million items, include stamps and archival documents on philately and the postal service primarily acquired from Canada Post and private individuals.

The philatelic documents held at the Library and Archives Canada are grouped in fonds or collections that cover all aspects of design and production of postage stamps. This encompasses original drawings and artwork, essays, preliminary and definitive die proofs, colour trials, plate proofs, as well as single or sheets of stamps. There are also postal covers, first-day covers, postal stationery, and related documents such as photographs on the history of the Canadian postal service.

Find postage stamps and philatelic documents

Here are different ways to find stamps and philatelic documents:

There is a general description of each fond and collection containing the provenance, scope, and content. These descriptions can be accessed by consulting Archives Search. Select "Stamps and stamp products" to limit your search in the "Type of material" menu. The database identifies specific search aids for some of these fonds. Descriptions are generally written in the language of the creator or donor, and English largely predominates. In addition to the fonds and collections, the database can be also find specific documents such as stamps or photographs.

The Philatelis – Postal Archives database was archived off-line. The images and information that was in the database can be access in various ways. A version of the database is now found in our web archives section. The images in this database can also be searched from Image Search (MIKAN).

Other information sources for postal and philatelic documents in our collections are available on our Postal Heritage and Philately web page.

Guide for searching postal and philatelic documents

On the Search Help page, you will find a section on Archives Search and some general tips on using this tool. These tips, combined with the information below, will help you obtain specific and relevant results.

On the Enhanced Archives Search-Advanced page:

  1. To conduct a search, you must always select the search terms "Any keyword".
  2. If you are searching using a date, you should enter the date in the "Any keyword" field.
  3. In the drop-down menu for the "Type of material" field, select the type that applies to your search, namely:
    • "Stamps and stamp products"
  4. In the drop-down menu for the "online" field, select "Yes" if you want enhanced descriptions of digital images.
  5. Click "Submit".

Example: Enhanced Archives Search

screen shot of advanced search database page


It is important to note that several types of documents need to be considered when searching LAC philatelic documentation. Here is a table identifying the types in question. These expressions can be used as keywords in the Archives Search.

Type of document French version
"Essay" "Essai"
"Die Proof" "Épreuve de poinçon"
"Plate Proof" "Épreuve de planche"
"Booklet" "Carnet"
"First Day Cover" "Pli premier jour"


Enter a specific expression in quotation marks to limit the number of results, for example:

"John Molson"

"May 22, 1986"

We suggest that you search for terms in both official languages (English and French) to carry out a comprehensive search. Results may differ depending on the language.


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