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July 13 2011 4 13 /07 /July /2011 14:00

First class stamps are put on to items of mail that customers wish to have delivered to their desired destination the following working day. They have been around for well over 150 years and have varied greatly in cost, although they have always been relatively cheap given the mind-blowing distances and speed in which some post travels. This article gives you more information about the first class stamps.


The first stamp, as we think of stamps today, was the Penny Black, a British stamp featuring Queen Victoria, which was issued in 1840. With its introduction, the postage fee was now to be paid by the sender and not the recipient as had previously been the case.

Introduction of first class stamps

The introduction of the first class stamp significantly increased the number of letters that were sent in the U.K. Before 1839, the number of letters sent was 76 million. By 1850, this had increased fivefold to 350 million, continued to grow rapidly thereafter and was maintained at this high level for well over a century.

Decline of first class stamps

The decline of the first class stamp began towards the end of the 20th century with the introduction of the internet and email to the mass market as people began to be able to send messages to each other, not only for free, but a lot more quickly.

Prices of the first class stamp

In the present day, the cost of a standard sized first class stamp is currently 46p with a large stamp costing 56p. The very first Penny Black stamp in 1840 cost, unsurprisingly, a penny and this price remained for a large number of years, meaning that in 160 years, stamp costs have increased by 46%!

Interesting facts


The UK is the only country not to identify itself by name on its first class, or any other of its postal stamps. This has always been the case and instead the stamp is internationally recognised by the image of the monarchs head in the centre of it.

The Royal Mail has very rarely made any money on its stamped mail service due to the low price they sell it for. For example, in the financial year spanning from 2007- 2008, the loss on stamped mail totalled a massive £178 millions.

Final word

It doesn't matter how old a first class stamp is, if it is a first class stamp then it can still be used to send mail.

Pillar to Post: 08/10/2002
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Published by James Hughes - in Arts & Crafts
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