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Penny Post

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54359.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:42 am Reply with quote

Q: Who invented the Penny Post?

F: Rowland Hill (1840)
A: William Dockwra (1680)

In the United Kingdom, the London Penny Post was established in 1680 by William Dockwra, who established a local post that used a uniform rate of one old penny for delivery of packets up to one pound in within London. There were several deliveries a day within the city, and items were also delivered to addresses up to ten miles outside London for an extra charge of one penny. In 1683 Dockwra was forced to surrender his business to the government operated General Post Office.

In 1764 Parliament authorized the creation of Penny Posts in any town or city of the UK. By the beginning of the 19th century there were a number of these, identifiable on covers, with markings such as "PP", "Py Post", or "Penny Post" along with the name of the town.

On 10 January 1840, the Uniform Penny Post was established throughout the UK, and several months later could be prepaid with the postage stamp known as the Penny Black.

In 1898, the Imperial Penny Post extended the rate throughout the British Empire.

The Penny Post rate ended in Great Britain in 1918.

54360.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:45 am Reply with quote

William Dockwra was an English entrepreneur who created the first penny post. He was born in the City of London, the son of an armourer, and was baptised on 26 April 1635. He was the uncle of Mary Davies, whose dowry of Mayfair and other lands near London would make the Grosvenor family the richest family in England by the 19th century, and this connection was to prove beneficial to Dockwra's own fortunes.

Dockwra was apprenticed to one of his father's fellows in the Armourers' Company, but his career subsequently took a variety of turns. In the 1660s he obtained a position at the Custom House. By the 1670s he was a merchant in the African slave trade, but he suffered major losses when a ship in which he had a large share was seized for breaching the Royal African Company's licenced monopoly.

In the 1680s Dockwra established the first penny post, which served London and the surrounding area to a distance of ten miles. Dockwra obtained a patent for his service, but unfortunately for him the profits from the government operated General Post Office has been granted to the King's brother the Duke of York, and Dockwra was soon forced to surrender his patent and pay 2,000 in compensation. His fortunes improved after the Duke, by then the King James II, was expelled from the country in 1688. In 1690 Dockwra was granted a pension of 500 a year and in 1697 he was appointed as comptroller of the penny post. However in 1700 he was dismissed after an investigation into his conduct of the business, including complaints that he had moved the central office from Cornhill to a less convenient location and has opened and detained post.

Meanwhile Dockwra had been appointed as the London agent for the sale of lead from the Grosvenor family's lead mines in Wales, and had become the senior partner in a brass smelting business based in Esher. This project introduced some technical innovations and helped to reduce England's dependence on imports, but it was not a financial success for Dockwra and he lost control of the business. He is believed to have been poor at his death in 1716.

60878.  Sun Mar 19, 2006 4:31 pm Reply with quote

Stamps from the UK are (apparently, and as far as I can verify) the only stamps in the world that don't bear the country of issue. Because we were the first, dammit.

60895.  Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:00 pm Reply with quote

Generally true, but this:

is Bosnian, and this:

is Swiss. Not modern, though.


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