Mrs Phyllis Mabey donated this collection of over 300 posters to the British Council. In August 1977, she wrote: "I should be very glad to hand the collection to The British Council as a gift, as I feel sure that it could not be in better hands, and it will be kept as a collection and not broken up.I wish that the collection be preserved as an entity and that it should be known as the ALAN MABEY COLLECTION."

This collection was originally administered and toured by General Exhibitions Department whose work, over the years, became subsumed into Design Department.  In 1996 the poster collection was handed over to Visual Arts Department.

The bulk of the collection covers the first half of the century and includes prime examples of London Transport posters from the 1920s and 30s designed by commercial artists such as Edward McKnight Kauffer, Tom Purvis and Frank Newbould, some 40 posters commissioned by Shell from artists such as Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Ben Nicholson, posters advertising various department stores, dry cleaners, hair styling products and the like.  There are also a number of early theatre posters by Dudley Hardy and John Hassall, as well as advertising posters by Aubrey Beardsley for magazines.  Since the bequest the collection was augmented by post-war works by leading British artists and designers acquired by General Exhibition Department.