Second edition (first paperback edition), paperback, 219 pages, covers slightly bumped with some light creasing, internally in Very Good condition.
The first paperback edition of Frank Staff’s authoritative and extremely readable account of the growth of the Penny Post from its local beginnings to national and international agreements. To some (such as Elihu Burritt who campaigned so vigorously for Ocean Penny Post to and from the United States, and Henniker Heaton, who by his efforts brought about Imperial Penny Post in 1898) the need to provide a cheap means of communication between peoples at home and abroad was not only obvious but was fought for with missionary zeal; however, governments were slow to react to these demands and the story Frank Staff describes provides a fascinating sidelight of social as well as postal history.
While we are all familiar with the name of Rowland Hill, who in 1840 established Uniform Penny Post in this country, less well-known is the pioneering work of William Dockwra, who created an efficient Penny Post in London as early as 1680 with four or five hundred Receiving Houses to take in letters, seven Sorting Offices and very frequent deliveries. Other pioneers include Ralph Allen of Bath, who developed Bye-way and Cross Roads Post throughout England and Wales in 1720, Peter Williamson, who organised a Penny Post in Edinburgh in 1773-4, and John Palmer, who devised the first mail-coach service in 1784 from Bristol to London.
The study of postal history opens up wide possibilities and is a fascinating subject of interest to the social historian as well as the philatelist. The Penny Post not only gives the historical background of a reform, but indicates the range of items that may still be obtained by the keen collector – early date-stamped envelopes, broadsheets and pamphlets, letter scales and stamp boxes, personal correspondence and newspaper cartoons – and the book itself is illustrated with a remarkable collection of photographs and line drawings.
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