What did the Letter say to the Stamp?

Blog entry posted in 'What did the Letter say to the Stamp?', May 6, 2019.

Have you ever thought about how letters were sent between our various ancestors? I have a postcard album that belonged to my great uncle, the earliest card having been posted in 1903. But back in the day, you could write a letter in the morning that invited a friend to tea that same day and receive a reply! However, different rates were paid for letters in different areas – there was no standard amount. It had been based on the distance the letter was to travel plus how many sheets of paper were included. Perhaps that accounts for letters in the early days being written upside down between lines already completed. ;)

In January 1837, Rowland Hill published his pamphlet “Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability”. In response to a Parliamentary question resulting from this, Hill suggested that a standard should be “a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, and covered at the back with a glutinous wash.” A competition was held to design the stamp and the end result was based upon a sculpture of Queen Victoria’s head by William Wyon, which was then sketched by Henry Corbold. A die was then engraved by Charles and Frederick Heath in order to produce the stamps. Issued on 1st May, the stamp – the Penny Black – first became valid for use today, 6th May back in 1840. :)

One snippet that I found.... The Penny Black image of Queen Victoria was based on a sketch when she was only 15 and was to remain on stamps for the entirety of her reign. :reading:

Oh yes – what did the letter say to the stamp? Stick with me and we’ll go places! :D
  1. Bay Horse
    It took nearly a week for a friend's birthday card to arrive by first class recently, a distance of only a few miles. And they call it progress! :)

    As a child, I had an interest in philately, as many youngsters do. One of my biggest regrets is that I gave my albums away to a cousin some years later. Although I didn't reach the heady heights of owning a penny black, there were some very old and beautiful stamps in there, including some that had been collected by my grandfather.

    A surprising number of my ancestors were postal workers - the records of employees on Ancestry has proved really useful.
    Dogsday, Nightryder, Sandiep and 7 others like this.
    Bay Horse, May 6, 2019
  2. Chimp
    My great grandfather was born 18 days later on 24th May 1840. Thanks for that bit of useless information Chimp :D
    Dogsday, Nightryder, Sandiep and 10 others like this.
    Chimp, May 6, 2019
  3. Philippa
    You NEVER give useless information, Chimp.

    (I'll be in touch and arrange to collect my payment later!!) :)
    Philippa, May 6, 2019
  4. Chimp
    :D :D
    Sandiep, Philippa and Daft Bat like this.
    Chimp, May 6, 2019
  5. Bonzo Dog
    Rowland Hill's elder brother Edwin was also deeply involved with Postal services and held the post of Controller of Stamps until 1872. Rowland had a big falling out with Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, also MP for Tamworth, and was dismissed from his post in 1842, but was reinstated in 1846 when the Whigs were voted into power. When the town's Yates' Wine Lodge changed hands it was renamed The Penny Black, a move seen by some locals as a jibe at the town's Peel Society.
    Dogsday, Nightryder, Sandiep and 5 others like this.
    Bonzo Dog, May 6, 2019
  6. Nightryder
    We wont mention how long certificates take to arrive here in Aus from the GRO, these days.
    Bonzo Dog, Sandiep, Bay Horse and 3 others like this.
    Nightryder, May 6, 2019
  7. Londoner
    My grandfather had a large stamp collection including a penny black and pages of the more common penny red. I have no idea what my cousin, who would have inherited it did with it all. My other grandfather worked for the Post Office, and was in the Postal service at Gallipoli, which he survived with just a wounded knee.
    Nightryder, Sis, Bonzo Dog and 5 others like this.
    Londoner, May 6, 2019
  8. Archie's Mum
    Just today spoke to my cousins wife, the conversation came to his stamp collection in boxes all over the place that he trips over. I asked her if he had a penny black.....yes somewhere in a box. :)
    Daft Bat likes this.
    Archie's Mum, May 8, 2019
  9. Philippa
    From what I remember reading (somewhere), if he has a penny black he's up to his neck in dollars. If it's in great condition he'll probably be smothering in them!!!
    Daft Bat likes this.
    Philippa, May 8, 2019
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