28 March 2008

The days before adhesive stanps

The General letter office ( the forerunner of the present General Post Office ) was established in 1660 during the reign of Charles II. Much of the mail was carried by Post Boys , some of whom walked while others rode on houseback. Later , in the eighteen century , the mail was carried by stage coach . In those days postage stamps , letter was put in an envelope ( a pre stamp cover ) which was addressed and possibly sealed with sealing wax. When the letter was delivered , the person to whom it was addressed had to pay a delivery charge based , amongst other things , on the distance it had been carried . He could , infact , have refused to pay the charge , and there would have been nothing anyone could do about it . Untill 1840 this system was used in most parts of the world , although there were various attempts to improve it by pre payment of the delivery charge .

The First adhesive stamp-
On May 6 , 1840 adhesive stamps for the pre payment of postage were on sale for the first time in England , and in fact , for the first time anywhere in the world . This was developed largely by Sir Rowland Hill , and was the beginning of postage stamps as we know them . After much research into postage cost and administration , he proved that there was no benefit in charging according to the distance over which a letter was carried . His scheme for a pre paid p0stage charge of one penny - regardless of distance - was introduced after much hostile government and official opposition .
The first stamp - the 'Penny Black' - was a black stamp with a portrait of Queen Victoria , and with the words 'Postage' and ' one penny' and various check letters in the bottom corners . Since it was the world's first stamp there was no need to put the name of the country, and the inclusion of the sovereign's head have remained characteristic features of the stamps of Great Britain ever since.
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