Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ralph Allen

Ralph Allen (1693 - 1764) was a notable postal pioneer, transforming the Cross and Bye Posts initially in the South West and later over a wider area in England.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Local Bath slogan cancellations ....

The first use of a "one-town" slogan cancellation was in 1956 in Rochdale.  The first such cancellations were in "untransposed" format, that is the town cancel was on the left, normally clear of the stamp while the slogan cancel was on the right, normally over the stamp.
This meant that the slogan cancel was often not very readable.  As the Post Office was charging the local councils for the slogan publicity cancels the councils were not happy with this.

On 1st July 1963 Bath became the first town to use a local publicity slogan in the "transposed" position, that is with the town cancel on the right over the stamp and the slogan cancel on the left where it was more readable.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Overview of Slogan Cancellations

After all those posts showing National Slogan cancels used at Bath, it's probably time for a summary before I post up anything more !  Still to go are:
  • Local Town Cancels, 
  • Commercial Slogans, and 
  • Commemorative Cancels.
The restrictions on the subject of Slogan cancellations were gradually relaxed from the initial Post Office rules of limiting them to subjects of national importance or to the operation of the Post Office. The chart below shows the number of slogan cancels used in each year, either of general use or for local publicity.  As can be seen, after the peak around 1970 the numbers have fallen.  Local authority reorganisation and cut-backs in the 1970s were one cause, with the use of local publicity slogan almost disappearing completely.  In the late 1980s there was been a growth in the use of slogans for national campaigns, some of which was due to the marketing campaigns of the Post Office.
Another cause of the disappearance of the local publicity slogans is the process of concentration within the Post Office, with mail being sorted and cancelled at ever larger regional centres.  After the major Post Office reorganisation in 1986, which split its operation into three separate businesses (counters, parcels and letters), within the South-West of England there were three Letter District Offices, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth.  With many more cancelling machines at these LDOs, the number of dies needed was much increased, as was the cost of a publicity campaign.
The quality of slogan postmarks deteriorated markedly from the 1980s, with even Royal Mail admitting that it had deteriorated following the introduction of Culler Facer Cancellers  in 1992-93.
Since before their inception there was concern over slogans which appeared to “overstep the mark” by including commercial advertising.  Up to the 1980s the Post Office ruling on the topic was that mention of a commercial concern was permissable only if an event or anniversary was being advertised.  Royal Mail changed its attitude in the mid-1980s and as part of its attempt to market slogan advertising more widely, inclusion of company names was welcomed.  Companies did not respond in large numbers though “Kit Kat” and “Quality Street” slogans were widely used.  Then at the end of 1998 Royal Mail received complaints about envelopes carrying competitors’ slogans, and they took the dramatic decision to cease slogans completely, except for postcode and other Royal Mail slogans.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

National Slogans after Decimalisation .... (5)

By the late 90s the combination of the internet and e-mails, and mobile phones and texting meant that the Post Office would take every opportunity to drum up business.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

National Slogans after Decimalisation .... (4)

Slogans for anything other than the Post Office business became increasingly rare.
Here are some more relating to the Post Office business - or trying to promote the skills required to read or write a letter:

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

National Slogans after Decimalisation .... Use of Colour

Coloured slogans were introduced, for example the slogan for "Lead Free" petrol in green.  There was also a period after the introduction of a black 1st class stamp when all the cancels were in red.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

National Slogans after Decimalisation .... (2)

The RAF Benevolent Fund used a series of slogans around the country.  The cancel for the Mormons was edited by the Post Office to remove a first line of "Jesus Lives" as this was deemed to be too contraversial.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Pre-Stamp, How did Post Offices know what to Charge ?

When an item of mail was posted, the Postmaster or a clerk at the Post Office where the item was posted wrote the postal charge on the front. If the postage had been prepaid the charge was written in red ink, otherwise it was in black. Each Post Office needed to know what to charge when an item was posted, whatever the destination. By the 1800s at least (and maybe before) each Post Office was provided with a printed book or a large printed sheet for wall display, probably both, at least for the larger offices. These books or wall charts listed every post town and "principal place" in the country, with blank columns for local postmasters to fill in the charge from his own town and, in the case of the wall charts, also the towns through which letters should be routed (not always London).
"A List of Post Towns and Principal Places; with the full Postage of a Single Letter to and from Falmouth according to the actual Routes of the Post"
Not many have survived, in part because such books and charts would have been useless once they were out of date and it would have been dangerous to have them still around when a new set of rates came into force. Postmasters were probably instructed to return or destroy any such outdated material so as to prevent the wrong rates being used. The illustration above shows a portion of a wall chart for Falmouth from sometime between 1812 and 1823.

On 6th November 1813, Christopher Saverland, Packet Agent and Postmaster of Falmouth wrote to Francis Freeling, Secretary to the P.M.G.:

"Please send half a dozen lists with London and cross post postage filled up" [Post 48]

Given the quantity requested it seems possible that each Receiving House was to be given a copy; they must have had this postal rate information available otherwise people would not have been able to prepay their postage if they so desired.

It is unclear who actually completed these columns in the books or wall charts. It may have been done centrally or possibly it was a task that the G.P.O. would have delegated to local postmasters who might be better placed to handle it than the London office. The letter above implies that it was done centrally (at least on request).

There were also publications for the general public published for His (or Her) Majesty's Stationery Office, which itemised the postage from London to all Post Towns and Principal Places, like the one shown below from 1830.
Sample page.