Olympic philatelic collecting brought to life at the British Library

1908 Olympic Poster by an unkown artist, lost until recently (c) Private collection / IOC

Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games, 25 July to 9 September, the British Library, St Pancras – admission FREE

The history, symbolism and personal stories of the Olympic Games will come to life through philately this summer at a special exhibition presented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the British Library.

Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games is a visually striking exhibition that will use postage stamps, postcards, letters, programmes and maps to provide unique insights into the Olympic Games, past and present. Beginning with the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, Olympex 2012 will also focus on the London Games in 1908 and 1948, bringing the story into the present day with the London 2012 Games.

Reflecting the manner in which the Olympic spirit touches the individual spirit, the exhibition is drawn largely from the philatelic collections of private individuals. The interests of these individual collectors give this exhibition a unique character and demonstrate how each of us can become involved in curating the Olympic story.

More than 2,500 stamps will feature, tracing the way that Olympic iconography has evolved across more than a century. Also included are handwritten postcards and letters from athletes, spectators and public figures – recording with vivid immediacy the ways in which the Games touched their lives.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “The IOC is delighted to have the British Library as its partner in this exhibition. The Library’s international reputation for bringing stories to life makes it the natural home for this fascinating and unique view of Olympic history.”

Frances Brindle, the British Library’s Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, said: “The British Library is thrilled to be working with the IOC on Olympex 2012. Each stamp, postcard and letter to be featured tells a story – understanding who sent them, and to whom, gives very personal insights into historical events.”

Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The exhibition will be held in the Front Hall of the British Library, St Pancras, from 25 July to 9 September. Admission is free.

Further information is available from the British Library website.

Notes to Editors:

British Library:
For more detailed information and images requests, please contact Ben Sanderson: Tel: +44 1937 546 126 - E ben.sanderson@bl.uk - http://pressandpolicy.bl.uk/ - Tw: @BLPressoffice

International Olympic Committee:
For more information, please contact the IOC Media Relations Team:
Tel: +41 21 621 6000 e-mail: pressoffice@olympic.org, or visit our web site at www.olympic.org.
YouTube: www.youtube.com/iocmedia
For an extensive selection of photos available shortly after each event, please follow us on Flickr.
To request archive photos and footage, please contact our Images team at: images@olympic.org.
Social media
For up-to-the-minute information on the IOC and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

For more information contact:

  • Ben Sanderson
  • The British Library
  • t:+44 (0) 1937 546 126
  • m:+44 (0) 7810 056848
  • f:+44 (0) 20 7412 7168
  • e: ben.sanderson@bl.uk


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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