Uniform Penny Post

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Royal Mail Post Office Regulations handbill giving details of the Uniform Penny Post, dated January 7, 1840 UPP POreg handbill 1840jan7.png
Royal Mail Post Office Regulations handbill giving details of the Uniform Penny Post, dated January 7, 1840

The Uniform Penny Post was a component of the comprehensive reform of the Royal Mail, the UK's official postal service, that took place in the 19th century. The reforms were a government initiative to eradicate the abuse and corruption of the existing service. Under the reforms, the postal service became a government monopoly, but it also became more accessible to the British population at large through setting a charge of one penny [nb 1] for carriage and delivery between any two places in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland irrespective of distance. [1] [2] [3]

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Historical sovereign state from 1801 to 1927

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

Contents

Campaign for reform

Richard Cobden and John Ramsey McCulloch, both advocates of free trade, attacked the Conservative government's policies of privilege and protection, including their archaic postal system. McCulloch, in 1833, advanced the view that "nothing contributes more to facilitate commerce than the safe, speedy and cheap conveyance of letters." [4] The campaign for cheap postage was actually initiated by Robert Wallace, who in 1835 argued, before a governmental commission set up to investigate the problems, that greater use of the mailing system would lead to increased revenue for the government.

Richard Cobden English manufacturer and Radical and Liberal statesman

Richard Cobden was an English manufacturer, Radical and Liberal statesman, associated with two major free trade campaigns, the Anti-Corn Law League and the Cobden–Chevalier Treaty.

Robert Wallace (1773–1855) was a Scottish politician. He was an electoral franchise reformer and agitator for postal service reform.

Rowland Hill's reforms

Sir Rowland Hill expounded his concept for the reformed service at a meeting of the commission on February 13, 1837, and published a famous pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability late that year. In 1838 Hill made a proposal to parliament in which he suggested that "the postage on all letters received in a post-town, and delivered in the same, or any other post-town in the British Isles, shall be at the uniform rate of one penny per half ounce". [5] However, Hill did not include a specific timetable for the introduction of a "penny post" in his proposal, nor did he suggest a plan for its implementation. Nonetheless, Hill's 1838 proposal paved the way for the 1840 Act which introduced the Uniform Penny Post.

Rowland Hill English educational, social and postal reformer

Sir Rowland Hill, KCB, FRS was an English teacher, inventor and social reformer. He campaigned for a comprehensive reform of the postal system, based on the concept of Uniform Penny Post and his solution of prepayment, facilitating the safe, speedy and cheap transfer of letters. Hill later served as a government postal official, and he is usually credited with originating the basic concepts of the modern postal service, including the invention of the postage stamp.

In his proposal, Hill also called for official pre-printed envelopes and adhesive postage stamps as alternative ways of getting the sender to pay for postage, at a time when prepayment was optional. [6] Previously, postage had depended on distance and the number of sheets of paper; now, one penny would assure delivery of an envelope and the letter it enclosed anywhere in the country provided together they satisfied the weight condition. This was a lower rate than before, when the cost of postage was usually more than 4d (four pence). The reform did not settle the issue of who paid for the postage, as it still remained optional for a number of years in spite of Hill's efforts as Secretary to the Post Office to alter the situation.

Mulready stationery

Mulready stationery describes the postal stationery letter sheets and envelopes that were introduced as part of the British Post Office postal reforms of 1840. They went on sale on 1 May 1840, and were valid for use from 6 May. The Mulready name arises from the fact that William Mulready, a well-known artist of the time, was commissioned to illustrate the part of the letter sheets and envelopes which corresponded with the face area.

Postage stamp small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage

A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage, who then affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover —that they wish to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse. The item is then delivered to its addressee.

As of 2013 the value of one penny in 1840 ranges from 32p (GBP) to 4.89 (GBP); the latter based on mean income. It would appear that the cost to an established semi-skilled man of sending a letter in 1840 can be represented by approximately 1.00 (GBP) in 2013 values (http://www.measuringworth.com/)

This however was a lower cost than previously and made postal communication more affordable to the increasing numbers of people capable of reading and writing as a consequence of public education. Financially, the penny post scheme was a disaster. More than thirty years elapsed before revenues were back to the pre-1840 level. The real benefits were the encouragement and support that the availability of cheap letterpost communication gave to the development of transport links, education, commerce and social cohesion.[ citation needed ]

See also

Notes

  1. One penny in 1840 is £0.35 today.

Related Research Articles

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Penny Black worlds first adhesive postage stamp

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Postage stamps and postal history of Great Britain

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The Penny Post is any one of several postal systems in which normal letters could be sent for one penny. Five such schemes existed in the United Kingdom while the United States initiated at least three such simple fixed rate postal arrangements.

Penny Black VR official

The VR official was one of three postage stamps introduced by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in May 1840 for the pre-payment of postage. While the Penny Black and the Two Pence Blue were for use by the general public, as were the Mulready envelopes and letter sheets, the VR official was for use on official mail. In appearance the VR Official was the same as the issued Penny Black except that the Maltese crosses in the top corners were removed and replaced by the letters V and R, hence its common name.

James Chalmers (inventor) 1782-1853; alleged Scottish inventor of the adhesive postage stamp

James Chalmers was a Scotsman who it was claimed, by his son, was the inventor of the adhesive postage stamps.

Scinde Dawk

Scinde Dawk was a very old postal system of runners that served the Indus Valley of Sindh, an area of present-day Pakistan. The term also refers to the first adhesive postage stamps in Asia, the forerunners of the adhesive stamps used throughout India, Burma, the Straits Settlements and other areas controlled by the British East India Company. The name derives from the words “Scinde”, the British spelling of the name of the province of Sindh, and “Dawk”, the anglicised spelling of the Hindustani word “Dak” or Post.

Postage stamps and postal history of Aden

Aden is a city in southern Yemen. Aden's location made it a popular exchange port for mail passing between places around the Indian Ocean and Europe. When Captain S. B. Haines of the Indian Marine, the East India Company's navy, occupied Aden on 19 January 1839, mail services were immediately established in the settlement with a complement of two postal clerks and four letter carriers. An interim postmaster was appointed as early as June 1839. Mail is known to exist from 15 June 1839 although a regular postmaster was not appointed until 1857; one of the officials of the Political Agent or the civil surgeon performed the duties of postmaster for a small salary.

Letter sheet

In philatelic terminology a letter sheet, often written lettersheet, is a sheet of paper that can be folded, usually sealed, and mailed without the use of an envelope, or it can also be a similar item of postal stationery issued by a postal authority. Letter sheets derive from the form in which written correspondence was made up before the mid-19th century — letters were written on one or more sheets of paper that were folded and sealed in such a way that the address could be written on the outside.

Pre-adhesive mail

Pre-adhesive mail, also called pre-stamp mail, are letters carried in mail systems before the issuance of postage stamps. A stampless cover is another description and generally also refers to any item of mail sent before the issuance of postage stamps but it can also refer to mail sent, after the introduction of postage stamps, unpaid or without the pre-payment being indicated by the affixing of a postage stamp; it could have been pre-paid in cash and marked paid.

Uniform Fourpenny Post

The Uniform Fourpenny Post was a short-lived uniform pre-paid letter rate in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that lasted for only 36 days from 5 December 1839 until 9 January 1840. The Uniform Fourpenny Post was the first component of the comprehensive reform to the Royal Mail postal service that took place in the 19th century.

Free Frank

A Free Frank was a mark applied by means of a hand-stamp to parliamentary mail in Britain to indicate that the mailed item did not require postage. The privilege of free franking was granted to four different classes: Members of Parliament; peers sitting in the House of Lords; office-holders, largely as stipulated by Acts of Parliament; and to archbishops and bishops sitting in the House of Lords. Requirement for free franking were that the mailed cover had to be signed by the official sender. As a result, free franks were avidly sought during the first three decades of the nineteenth century for autograph collections. This was accomplished by cutting out the front panels of the envelope which carried the inscriptions which were required under the use of this privilege. These panels are referred to by collectors as free fronts. In 1840 as a result of various abuses and excesses that had plagued the British Post office for many years, Rowland Hill's reforms brought an end to the Free franking privilege in 1840 when he introduced the postage stamp to Britain.

The London Penny Post was a premier postal system whose function was to deliver mail within London and its immediate suburbs for the modest sum of one penny. The Penny Post was established in 1680 by William Dockwra and his business partner, Robert Murray. Dockwra was a merchant and a member of the Armourer and Brasiers Livery Company and was appointed a Customs Under-Searcher for the Port of London in 1663. Murray would later become clerk in the excise office of the Penny Post. The London Penny Post mail service was launched with weeks of publicity preceding it on 27 March 1680. The new London Penny Post provided the city of London with a much needed intra-city mail delivery system. The new Penny Post was influential in establishing a model system and pattern for the various Provincial English Penny Posts in the years that followed. It was the first postal system to use hand-stamps to postmark the mail to indicate the place and time of the mailing and that its postage had been prepaid. The success of the Penny Post would also threaten the interests of the Duke of York who profited directly from the existing general post office. It also compromised the business interests of porters and private couriers. The Penny Post was also involved in publishing various criticisms towards the British monarchy, the Duke of York in particular, which ultimately led to the take over of the Penny Post by crown authorities. The earliest known Penny Post postmark is dated 13 December 1680 and is considered by some to be the world's first postage 'stamp'.

Wrapper (philately) postal stationery which pays the cost of the delivery of a newspaper or a periodical

In philately a wrapper is a form of postal stationery which pays the cost of the delivery of a newspaper or a periodical. The wrapper is a sheet of paper, large enough to wrap around a folded or rolled newspaper and with an imprinted stamp to pay the cost of postage. Some catalogs and reference books refer to a wrapper as postal bands which comes from the French term bandes postale. Still others refer to it as a newspaper wrapper or periodical wrapper.

Fletcher Collection

The Fletcher Collection is Hugh Greenwell Fletcher's lifetime philatelic collection of British postage stamps and British stamps used abroad including overprints and non-stamp items such as postal stationery. On his death in 1968, the collection was bequeathed to the Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham, once the home of Sir Rowland Hill. The collection was donated to the British Library in 1989.

Postage Act 1839

The Postage Act 1839 (c.52) was an act of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that came into effect on 17 August 1839 to regulate the postage rates of Great Britain until 5 October 1840 and led to several postal reforms, including the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post and the world's first postage stamps.

References

  1. Ince, Henry; Gikbert, James (1860). English History. London: W. Kent & Co. p. 296.
  2. Brewer, Rev. Ebenezer Cobham (1853). Poetical chronology of inventions, discoveries &c.… from the conquest. London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans. p. 143.
  3. History of Postal Services, Bath: Postal Museum, archived from the original on 2011-05-24.
  4. Robinson, Howard (1948). The British Post Office; a History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  5. Richardson, Alan J. Organizational founding, strategic renewal and the role of accounting: Management accounting concepts in the formation of the "Penny Post.". Toronto, CA: Schulich School of Business, York University. p. 26.
  6. "Rowland Hill's Postal Reforms", The British Postal Museum & Archive, Word press, Aug 21, 2009

Further reading