by Ron Shanahan (Queensland)


Due to increasing criticism of the high postage rates, a Committee of Enquiry was set up in 1835.

Rowland Hills' pamphlet entitled "POST OFFICE REFORM" came two years later. He proposed a Uniform Postage Rate of 1d, which would lead to an increase in correspondence and the virtual abolition of attempts to evade the postage. He argued that distance had little bearing on the cost of conveying a letter. Later in 1837 the "Select Committee of Postage" was set up and, by one vote only, they recommended that Parliament adopt Hills' scheme. However, postage was not reduced to 1d at once, but, from December 5th, 1839, a General Fourpenny Rate was set up for letters up to half an ounce in weight. Letters up to 1 ounce were charged 8d and each additional ounce up to 16 ounces cost 8d.

The Fourpenny Post lasted only from December 5th, 1839, to January 9th, 1840, and markings were applied in manuscript or handstruck.

Uniform 4d entire from York to Kirby Moorside, dated December 16th, 1839, with manuscript 4 and backstamped with YORK DE16 1839 circular mark.

Although a number of English towns used a handstruck 4, they are extremely scarce, with some towns having only one known example.

Most handstruck 4's are Scottish and London is always manuscript.

Gateshead is not one of the towns to have used a handstruck 4.

Wrapper from Gateshead to Glasgow, with manuscript 4. This letter was posted in Gateshead on DE 9 1839 (Gateshead Circular Date Stamp), travelled via Edinburgh as evidenced by the red Edinburgh circular date stamp, and was received at 7 50 am 11 DEC 1839 in Glasgow (Boxed Glasgow stamp).


Is the example below a Uniform 4d post letter?

At first glance, looking at the '4' it would probably appear so. However it is dated Au 12 1835, well before the Uniform 4d time-frame. So it always pays to check closely on all the details of a cover.

As someone once said "It's a mine-field out there!"

Source acknowledgment:-

"British Postmarks — A Short History and Guide"

by R.C.Alcock & F.C. Holland.

Copyright EARS Leisurewrite

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