Postage costs, then and now
« on: March 16, 2019, 07:55:31 AM »
Earlier today, I heard someone grumbling about postage costs, and wondered how today's prices compared to the costs when it all started. This is of course very UK-centric.
The world's first ever self adhesive postage stamp on a public postal service, was the "penny black" in May 1840. This only lasted a year, then they changed it to the "penny red". This was so the cancellation stamp showed up better, and people didn't just keep reusing the same stamp over and over again. The cost was, you guessed it, a penny, to deliver a letter up to 1/2oz (14g) irrespective of distance. So it didn't matter if it was just a horse and cart journey, or if it had to travel the length of the country by steam train.
But how does that compare to the 58p cost of second class stamp today?
According to the Bank of England website, £1 worth of goods and services back then, would cost £100 today. So 100 pennies, or £1 is considerably MORE than today's 58 pence stamp.
Except it isn't...
In 1840 we were on £-s-d or pounds, shillings and pence, and there were actually 240 pennies in the pound. One hundred pennies back then, was eight shillings and fourpence, which in today's decimal currency, comes to just under 42p. So today's 58p postal cost is almost 40% higher than the equivalent cost when the service started almost 180 years ago.
Smurfing robbing smurfs!