At the end of 2022, at the time of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new, a “Blue Rabbit” stamp caused heated discussions on the Chinese Internet because of its unique style. This stamp named “Guimao Sending Blessings” belongs to the special stamps issued by China Post for the Year of the Rabbit. The designer is Huang Yongyu, a famous Chinese artist and “father of monkey stamps”.
A small postage stamp is no longer enough to meet the basic needs of sending letters today. People will argue because of whether it looks good or not. No matter in China or other countries in the world, people endow it with more aesthetics and collection value. However, it was not until the 1840s that the first postage stamp appeared in the world. On January 10, 1840, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom publicly announced that the reform of the British postal system would start from now on, and the postage would be borne by the sender.
The advent of postage stamps and the subsequent enrichment of their value have witnessed the emergence of modern postal services from scratch and their gradual prosperity.
The Birth of the Modern Post: From Royal Family to Commoner
One day in the 1830s, the headmaster of a secondary school in London was walking in the street. The headmaster is tall and tall with a beard. He saw a postman hand a letter to a girl, who took the letter, glanced at it briefly, and immediately returned it to the postman, refusing to accept it. The principal was very puzzled. After the postman left, he curiously asked the girl why she didn’t receive the letter. The girl told him shyly that the letter was from her fiancé who lived far away, and she couldn’t accept it because the postage was expensive and she couldn’t afford it. However, the girl had learned about the other party’s situation from the mark on the envelope, and the two had long agreed to use a mark on the envelope that only they could understand.
“Father of Modern Stamps” – Rowland Hill
This incident kept the headmaster thinking about it, and he made up his mind to do something for the reform of the British postal system. The principal was the later “father of modern stamps” – Rowland Hill (Rowland Hill).
Before Hill promoted the birth of the modern postal business, in fact the British postal system had gone through a long period from its emergence to its development. The earliest official historical records can be traced back to the era of the Norman Conquest. At that time, the postal service was a private institution of the king. It only served the government and only transmitted official documents, not public trust. In fact, it was in an era when the government monopolized information.
At that time, it was very difficult for ordinary people to deliver letters, so they could only be entrusted to others or entrusted to underground private organizations, and the postage was high.
During the reign of Charles I (1625-1649), the postal agencies were expanded to Scotland and Ireland, and the postal service began to be open to the public, and it was no longer the exclusive institution of the royal family. But for a long time after that, the postal service was still monopolized by the British government. The range that mail can reach is very limited, the efficiency is low, and the cost of sending letters is even more unfriendly to ordinary people. In most cases, the postage has to be borne by the recipient, which is why the scene Roland saw on the streets of London happened.
The high cost of sending letters has long hindered the correspondence of British civilians. Hill’s mother also said: “I am particularly afraid of receiving letters from others, because there is not enough money to pay for the postage.” At that time, the monthly salary of an ordinary worker in Britain was only 18 pence, so the phenomenon of refusing to pay postage and rejecting letters was very common.
”Many young men who have gone to work never write home again, and thousands of apprentices, shop assistants, governesses, and domestic servants have been cut off from their homes as sea or desert separates them ’” Hill later wrote in “The Story of the Great Reformation.”
In 1837, Hill published a pamphlet called “The Postal Reform—Its Importance and Possibilities.” There are two core proposals put forward by Hill in this pamphlet: one is the flat rate of postage, and the other is the implementation of postage prepayment. Specifically, Hill believes that the charging standard of postage should be simplified, that is, the original multiple billing standards based on weight, mileage, and the number of letter papers should be abolished, and replaced by a unified fee based on weight: only 1 penny for mail that does not exceed half an ounce , regardless of the distance, and the postage should be prepaid by the sender. Correspondingly, the country needs to issue something called a “stamp” as a prepaid voucher. This is the embryonic form of the later “1penny post”.
Hill’s pamphlet quickly became a topic of discussion among Londoners and was supported by newspapers and public opinion. In 1839, the British government introduced a transitional price standard for postage reform, and part of Hill’s proposal became a reality. On January 10, 1840, the Queen of England announced the official implementation of the unified penny post in the United Kingdom. On May 6 of the same year, the British government officially issued a stamp designed by Hill with a profile of Queen Victoria and a face value of 1 pence. Printed with black ink, the stamp, also known as the “Penny Black stamp”, was the first postage stamp in the world and the beginning of the modern postal service.
Hill’s success is inseparable from his obsession with reform, but it must also be noted that the era he lived in was a period full of reform. After entering the 19th century, due to the stimulation of the industrial revolution, a large number of roads were built in England and Wales in just a few decades, and the British waterway transportation network was also built. The railway era came in 1827. The desire to exchange information also provided the basis for the beginnings of the modern post in England.
Modern postal services in China: setting up offices in every township and connecting every village with postal services
China’s modern postal services began in the land of Tianjin. In March 1878, Gustav von Detring, a German hired by the Taxation Department of Tianjin Customs, prepared to build the Tianjin Customs Letter Library there. It is the first post office letter library in the modern history of China to follow the Western model.
The old customs building, located on the bank of the Haihe River in Tianjin, used to be the official office of the customs. The customs letter library was located in the building, and the first set of stamps in China was issued from here. At that time, after the opening of the Customs Letter Office, in order to facilitate the collection and delivery of mail, and also to standardize the management of the postal service by the Customs, De Cuilin prepared the first set of stamps in modern Chinese history – Dalong Stamps.
At the beginning of the founding of New China, the postal industry was in disarray, the postal network was incomplete, the production equipment was outdated and backward, and the length of the national postal road was only 706,000 kilometers. In the following 70 years, China’s modern postal industry system has been continuously improved and perfected in the reform. It is worth mentioning that in the 1980s, China Post launched the domestic express delivery service, which was the first express delivery service. After nearly 40 years of exploration, the private express delivery business has emerged along with the development of e-commerce, and China has become the world’s largest express delivery country.
In August 2021, at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office, Ma Junsheng, director of the State Post Bureau, said that a modern postal service compatible with a well-off society has been fully established. According to the State Post Bureau, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, it has realized “establishment of offices in every township and postal service in every village”, which effectively guarantees the smooth flow of government orders of the party and the state and the postal needs of the people, and also effectively serves the strategy of poverty alleviation and rural revitalization .
From the first letters with stamps to the express delivery in the era of e-commerce, not only the postal service is rushing, but also the era of human beings.
This Week in History · Breakthrough
On January 10, 1863, the first section of the London Underground opened to traffic. This is the world’s first subway.
On January 13, 1908, French pilot Henri Farmand made the first long-duration circular flight.
On January 11, 1922, Dr. Banting, a doctor at Toronto General Hospital in Canada, used insulin to treat diabetes for the first time.
On January 12, 1926, the Institut Pasteur announced the discovery of anti-tetanus serum.
On January 14, 2000, a cloned macaque was born in the United States. This is the world’s first successful cloning of a primate.
On January 15, 2001, Wikipedia, a multilingual encyclopedia based on Wiki technology, was officially launched.
On January 9, 2005, the Chinese Antarctic Ice Sheet Expedition Team broke into the “forbidden zone” and reached the highest area of the Antarctic ice sheet. It became the first expedition team to break into this “forbidden zone” since the implementation of the International Transantarctic Plan