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Penny Black

Penny Black

Towards the end of the 16th century the practice arose of regular communication by letter between. the magistrates of the larger towns and the seat of government in Edinburgh. After the accession of James VI. to the throne of England,the necessity for an ordered method of intercourse between the Scottish capital and London became urgent, but the plans adopted involved extraordinary delay, for it not often happened that there was an interval of two months between the dispatch of a letter and the receipt of a reply.

Such a leisurely fashion of transacting business soon grew intolerable, and in 1635 a system of relays was instituted which enabled the journey between the two cities to be accomplished in three days, the charge for a letter being 8 pence. The service was reorganized in 1662, and in 1711 the postal establishments of the United Kingdom, hitherto conducted independently in. each country, were consolidated into one. When this reform was effected the cost of a letter to London was reduced to 6 pence.

Three years before this date a local penny post had been provided in Edinburgh by private enterprise, carried on by a staff of seven persons, and after the success of this effort had been demonstrated the concern was taken over by the post office. Subsequently postal business stagnated, mainly owing to the greatly increased charges, until the system of uniform penny postage came into operation.

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