The History of UK Postage Stamp Prices

History, Reforms, and Changes in Prices of UK Postage Stamp

There are very few things in the world that can be considered as one of the items that changed the world forever, and the “Penny Black” holds a valid claim to be one of them. The story behind its introduction is one of postal stamp reform as, until 1840, postal services were pricey, unreliable and often too complex when it came to pricing since charges were different in various parts of the country. The system at times made it quite inconvenient for the recipient as he had to pay for it to be able to accept the post. Sir Rowland Hill proposed a revolutionary solution by making the postal service prepaid by the sender at a country-wide uniform price. The world’s first stamp came to be known as the “Penny Black” when it was released on 6 May 1840 and each stamp cost 1d (one penny) and could cover up to 4oz of a local post by weight.

This change allowed a huge spike in usage of the postal system as senders could avoid the hassles of working around the complex postage stamp prices with a convenient system. Within a decade, the number of letters sent quadrupled to 350 million from 76 million paid-for letters which brought about yet another challenge. Did you know red postboxes did not exist until 1853? Are you wondering how one used to post a letter? Well, a sender could either walk to their nearest post office or wait by the door for a roving bellman who also brought their letters. Victorian bestselling novelist Anthony Trollope, also a postal worker, introduced the pillar box to remedy this.

The cost for sending 4oz of local post rose to 1½ d by 1918 and 3d by 1920. After the First World War prices were lowered to 2½ d for sending 4oz locally and again to 3d 1940 because of The Second World War.

Learn more about the history, reforms, and changes in prices of UK postage stamps by checking out this infographic from Postage Supermarket.

The History of UK Postage Stamp Prices