Tuesday, 10 November 2009

This video was posted to Youtube by Chris Phillips (Philcovers) on 10th Octoober 2008.

According to Chris "If you look at the cost of posting a letter In 1840 it was 1d and it stayed at the same rate for 78 years."


GBStamps said...

According to The House of Commons:

"If you look at the value of the pound in 1915 (75 years after the Penny Black), it was the same as 1840." That would explain the unchanging postal rate.

By 1918, the value of the pound had fallen by nearly half, as the result of WWI, and therefore postage rates had to rise.

By 1998, the value of the pound had fallen to less than one-fiftieth of its value in 1840. If the cost of postage were to stay the same in real terms, it would be about 50 old pence, or 20 new pence. The actual first-class postage rate in 1998 was 39 new pence, so the cost of mailing a letter has roughly doubled since Rowland Hill's time.

No doubt Royal Mail could still handle a letter for 1p if postal staff were willing to work for, say, 15p per day. I wonder if Chris would take that job.

The bottom line: talking about price changes of an item or service makes no sense unless it is compared to the overall rate of inflation.

For comparative values of the pound over time, see
here (pdf file).


Anonymous said...

When discussing prices over time, I like to get people to understand that the currency they are evaluating is not the same one that existed 50 or 100 years ago. That old Pound (or Dollar or whatever) is a different currency from the one in your pocket.

Another way to think about this is yes, you could post a letter for 1d in 1900, but with no amount of pounds back then could you purchase a TV or airplane ticket. For those you would have to wait until the newer Pound came out.

Robert Bostock said...

However much we may criticise Royal Mail, and I very often do myself, it must not be forgotten that 39p for a First Class letter weighing up to 100g represents tremendous value compared to most of its European postal rivals, where there is often a basic weight step of 20g followed by another of 50g. Thus a letter weighing say 85g would cost only 39p in Britain whereas in France it would be €1.35 or about £1.20.

GBStamps said...

Royal Mail's rates are a bargain for letters weighing near 100g, and Royal Mail always uses the 100g weight when it compares its rates to others. However, I think most people send more letters in the 0-20g weight range than in the 50-100g range. For those letters, Royal Mail's rates are a bit on the high side (though the current euro/pound relationship makes the comparison better for RM than it has been in the past). For another example, compare Royal Mail's 39p to the US 44 cents (about 27p) up to 1 oz (about 28g).


Robert Bostock said...

Hi Larry.
What you say is completely true - naturally, people tend to send letters weighing less than 20g. But the point I was making was that the British FIRST weight step is not 20g as in most countries but a very substantial 100g which is very good value. Elsewhere, the 85g letter I spoke of would already be in the third weight step! By European standards, even 39p for a 20g letter is not bad going, as in France it is 0,56€, around 50p and much more in some other countries.