Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"History of the Posts"


Mr. Paul Gaywood


On Friday, 18th November, the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society were delighted to welcome Paul Gaywood, from Wales, Depute Editor of "ABPS Magazine", to the meeting. He gave a fascinating talk and wonderful display on the subject of "History of the Posts".  

Members were given some surprising facts! The first item on display - a "Bishop Mark" – the world’s first "postmark". This was invented by the Postmaster General of 1661 – Henry Bishop - whereby every letter received by the post office was stamped with the date – eg 30 JY – (30th July) thus ensuring that the dispatch of letters would not be delayed.

The letters would be picked up from the Coffee House by "Messengers" for delivery. Coffee Houses? The Post Office, at that time, was very often situated within such and contracted their business from there!

Sending cash or cheque by post? Worried about security? Cut in half and send one half! When that arrives at its destination - ask for the other half!

Cost of postage? Variable according to distance and how many sheets of paper used – and postage was generally paid for by the recipient. Many local posts charged 1d – but, to help fund the War against Napoleon, this charge was raised to 2d! Mileages of over 80 miles – within England and Wales – 4d – but by 1796 this had risen to 6d – expensive and quite out of reach of poor people – especially as many "important" people claimed "free postage" – the aristocracy; members of parliament etc. – thus keeping the rates too high.

Then on 6th May 1840, Rowland Hill introduced the theme of "pre-payment" whereby a stamp would be paid for by the sender – regardless of distance - to be paid by all! The Penny Black and the Tuppence Blue stamps became highly popular.

Fraud! Stamps being reused! To prevent this stamps from 1840 – 1844 were covered by the Maltese Cross postmark. More designs were now developed. Numeral "Killers"; "Spoon" duplex marks; "Sideways" and "Standard" duplex marks. If more than one stamp used then a mix of "killer" and "standard" were used.

In 1850, an envelope with an embossed pink one penny stamp was issued.

In this same year, Registered mail became known – but to begin with this was only possible by the payment of a 1d to cover insurance. This was followed by envelopes being marked with crossed blue lines. The pre printed Registered envelope crossed with blue lines – still used today – came into being in the latter 19th Century.

Have forgotten to stick on a stamp? There was a display of a whole range of Postage Due stamps! This also included – on a letter written in 1834 – a handwritten postage due message!

But, if you were late in the day in posting your letter – and it missed the last train – the envelope was marked with a "Too Late" handstamp!


Mike Cleary gave warm thanks for a most interesting and humorous display.

Our next meeting in St Andrews Parish Church Hall, Avon Street, Hamilton, is on Friday, 16th December, 2011 at 7:30pm when we look forward to displays of "Postcards" by members.

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.