launch of UK Penny Post

The introduction of the Penny Post in 1840, the rapid expansion of the rail network in the UK, and the introduction of steamships on the transatlantic routes, created the optimum conditions for writing letters. Prior to 1840, the cost of inland postage was prohibitively expensive; it was calculated according to the number of sheets multiplied by the distance traveled. Additional charges were often levied and the burden of payment fell on the recipient, which did nothing to encourage frequent communication. The Penny Post Act drastically reduced the cost of an inland letter to a universal flat rate of just one penny for a half an ounce, and the introduction of the prepaid penny stamp removed the deterrent to accepting a letter.


Susan Donovan, “How the Post Office and Postal Products Shaped Mid-Nineteenth-Century Letter-Writing”

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