Can you imagine a world without the postal service? I am guessing if you are under thirty you probably can but for the rest of us there is a certain romance about getting a letter in the post that hits the spot. Before 1840 this romance came at a high cost, only the very rich could afford to use the post and letters were charged by the number of sheets written upon and the distanced travelled to send them. The recipient, rather than the sender, had to pay until this little beauty came along:
Victorians made their correspondence as efficient as possible: writing both horizontally and vertically on a page, but with so much to write about it was clear that something had to be done to improve the communication system.Chalmers, a bookseller and printer from Dundee, suggested a solution of pre-paid postage stamps in 1822, but it took another 15 years for MP Robert Wallace to imagine an envelope, of a standard size, which would carry the stamp. Two years later, the Penny Postage Bill was passed in Parliament and treasurer Roland Hill announced a competition to find the designer of envelops and stamps: 2,600 entries were submitted but the one chosen was a depiction of Queen Victoria derived from a sketch that artist William Wyon made of the Queen when she was 15. Victoria was 21 in 1840, but engraver Henry Corbould still used this reference for the stamp, which was in turn used by Charles and Frederick Heath to make a die for its printing.
This colour was much easier to administer as the it could be clearly cancelled by black ink which showed clearly and thus cut down on fraud.