1st May 1840 : One Penny

On the 1st of May 1840, the United Kingdom of Great-Britain and Irland issued THE " One Penny ". The first stamp was born to be used officially from May 6th. It was the result of the implementation of the " Uniform Penny Post " reform advocated by Sir Rowland Hill.

According to what is probably a legend, one says that Sir Rowland Hill would have imagined his reform when he noticed a young woman too poor to pay for the postage due of the letter that her fiancé have had addressed her.  Moved, he offered to pay the amount of the postage but the young woman refused and explained him that the letter was empty but that coded informations written on the letter by her fiancé -freely- allowed him to let her know how he was being. An investigation would have revealed that this fraud was common.

Rowland Hill would have then imagined the reform of the British postal system which implemented the payment method by the sender instead of postage due by the recipient receiver of the mail. It also established the single payment formula " 1 weight - 1 country - 1 price ", rather than the very heavy and complex " distance - number of pages " system.

The issuance of the One Penny was a practical measure of the Postal Directive of the 7th January 1840. According to the latter, a letter weighing up to ½ ounce (14 grams) was, since 10th January 1840, traveling the UK for 1 penny

That is the theory and what History reminds. Practice and reality are more complex.

So, to be continued...

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int. Dubois philately - Agence Collections