Notes from the Past

Penny Post

The term was introduced by William Dockwra, who set up a London Penny Post as a private venture in 1680, delivering letters and packets within a prescribed area of London, for a penny each.  It had its own triangular 'Penny Post Paid' markings.  With its flat rate of prepaid postage and its frequent deliveries, Dockwra's post was a remarkable precursor of modern postal systems.  It was so successful that in November 1682 it was suppressed as an infringement of the State postal monopoly, and subsequently reopened as a government service.  Later on there were Twopenny and Threepenny Posts covering the outlying districts of London.

Penny posts were introduced in Edinburgh and Dublin in 1773, and afterwards in many other towns.  The postal markings of these are widely studied and collected.  The introduction of a national Penny Post, replacing the previous system under which charges had varied according to the distance a letter was carried, was the central feature of Sir Rowland Hill's great postal reform of 1840.  It came into operation on 10 January of that year, preceding the issue of the first postage stamps by nearly four months.

- R. J. Sutton 6th edition revised by K. W. Anthony
The Stamp Collector's Encyclopaedia
Published 1966
 Posted March 9, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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