On the 6th May 1840 the launch of the world’s first stamp, the Penny Black, revolutionised communication around the world in the form of sending and receiving post.
The process of sending and receiving a letter was complicated. For example, up to this point in time to send a communication, i.e letter, was very expensive, the price based on the amount of sheets used. As a way to get round this people would make sure every space of the sheet was filled by cross writing. It was also normal for the recipient to pay the postage, so many senders would write coded messages on the envelope, so the receiver could read the letter without having to pay for it.
Rowland Hill developed a revolutionary concept to combat these problems. His solution was for the sender to pay for the postage, at an even penny rate, and the envelope stamped as proof of payment. The stamp would be as Hill put it,
‘a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, and covered at the back with a glutinous wash’.
His concept was accepted and the Penny Black born. More than 68 million stamps were produced in the first year. By 1850 this had quadrupled to 350 million. The success from this translated around the world and adhesive stamps were adopted globally.