World’s First postage stamp, Penny Black, had an image of Queen Victoria, but the first postal service wasn’t started when Victoria was the Queen of England. The story dates back to 1680, when an entrepreneur named William Dockwra, launched a service that promised fast delivery of letters anywhere in London.
His service business was nationalized, but he was still in charge. It wasn’t the perfect system, and it was costly to send a letter. And the worst part was, the receiver was expected to pay. This started many problems, either the receiver wasn’t home, or they refused to pay. There was also corruption. The system was a disaster, but it was there for an extended period.
Fifty years later, a knowledgeable person named Rowland Hill thought he could do better with the postal service business. He used to run a school, where he designed and created a central heating system, observatory, and a swimming pool. Hills skills weren’t limited to pedagogical or architectural, and he was also an inventor, essayist, and painter. In Hill’s most popular pamphlet Post Office Reform, he argued for ending the postal tariffs and replacing tariff rate with a single national price, which a sender will pay.
The Post office ignored his pamphlet, and then he went on to self-publish his pamphlet, and it quickly became famous. Hill was then invited by Postmaster General Lord Lichfield to discuss postal reform. In the meeting, two men were conceived of a label that would be applied to the letters that indicated payment.
His idea was famous in Public, but officials still weren’t convinced. They called the idea preposterous. Fortunately, Hill wasn’t alone. He had earned support from other famous people like Henry Cole, founding director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and other influential organizations. All these people convinced Parliament to implement Hill’s idea.
Creation of Penny Black Stamp
Hill organized a competition in 1839 to design all the necessary postal stuff. The winning stamp, which had the image of young Queen Victoria, was created by William Wyon, who designed this to celebrate Queen Victoria’s first visit to London. Hill collaborated with an artist named Henry Corbould to refine the portrait and put that portrait on the stamp. After finalizing the stamp, they decided to produce the stamp with the line engraving.
On May 1, 1840, the Penny Black stamp went on sale. It was a significant hit. Suddenly, the country seemed a lot smaller. Seventy million letters were sent next year. The numbers were rising at an unprecedented rate. Other countries also started following the same idea. The Penny Black Design was so famous. It was used for more than 40 years.