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Letter Rates 1875-1975

Introduction


1951 - 2½d Empire letter rate to St Helena, part of a bulk mailing paid in cash with
Paid machine mark, also with 4d Paid handstamp for worldwide letter rate in error

A standard rate of 2½d per ½oz was introduced upon the formation of the General (later Universal) Postal Union on 1st July 1875, although initially this applied only to member countries and non-UPU rates varied. (A treatment of these is on the "to-do" list.)

Eventually most destinations were covered by UPU treaties, and it was simpler to have one standard rate. From 1st October 1891 a uniform rate of 2½d per ½oz applied except to Transvaal, Orange Free State, British Bechuanaland, and "other more remote places in the Interior of Africa served by way of the Cape Colony or Natal". From 1st July 1892 the 2½d rate applied worldwide.

This uniform structure lasted only six years until "Imperial Penny Postage" was introduced – concessionary rates to places in the British Empire or Commonwealth and some associated territories. From 1st October 1908 to 30th September 1957, under "Transatlantic Penny Postage", the USA also qualified for these reduced rates. (In the table below, where one set of rates changed and the other did not, the unchanged rates are shown in grey.)

From 1937 the service to Empire destinations began to be offered on an "all-up" basis – i.e. mail was sent by air at surface rates where possible. This ceased upon the outbreak of World War 2. However, from 1st July 1948 mail to European destinations was likewise generally on an "all-up" basis at the rates below.

The Empire concession ceased on 17th March 1975 and thereafter there was a single surface rate worldwide.

Rates

Date Foreign Empire Date Foreign Empire
1875
(1 Jul)
2½d - ½oz
5d - 1oz
7½d - 1½oz
10d - 2oz
1s 0½d - 2½oz
1s 3d - 3oz
1s 5½d - 3½oz
1s 8d - 4oz
1s 10½d - 4½oz
2s 1d - 5oz
2s 3½d - 5½oz
2s 6d - 6oz

Each additional ½oz - 2½d

Initially applied to Postal Union member countries only, later changes as explained above
not applicable 1898
(25 Dec)
2½d - ½oz
5d - 1oz
7½d - 1½oz
10d - 2oz
1s 0½d - 2½oz
1s 3d - 3oz
1s 5½d - 3½oz
1s 8d - 4oz
1s 10½d - 4½oz
2s 1d - 5oz
2s 3½d - 5½oz
2s 6d - 6oz

Each additional ½oz - 2½d
1d - ½oz
2d - 1oz
3d - 1½oz
4d - 2oz
5d - 2½oz
6d - 3oz
7d - 3½oz
8d - 4oz
9d - 4½oz
10d - 5oz
11d - 5½oz
1s - 6oz

Each additional ½oz - 1d
1907
(1 Oct)
2½d - 1oz
4d - 2oz
5½d - 3oz
7d - 4oz
8½d - 5oz
10d - 6oz
11½d - 7oz
1s 1d - 8oz
1s 2½d - 9oz
1s 4d - 10oz
1s 5½d - 11oz
1s 7d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1d - ½oz
2d - 1oz
3d - 1½oz
4d - 2oz
5d - 2½oz
6d - 3oz
7d - 3½oz
8d - 4oz
9d - 4½oz
10d - 5oz
11d - 5½oz
1s - 6oz

Each additional ½oz - 1d
1918
(3 Jun)
2½d - 1oz
4d - 2oz
5½d - 3oz
7d - 4oz
8½d - 5oz
10d - 6oz
11½d - 7oz
1s 1d - 8oz
1s 2½d - 9oz
1s 4d - 10oz
1s 5½d - 11oz
1s 7d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1½d - 1oz
2½d - 2oz
3½d - 3oz
4½d - 4oz
5½d - 5oz
6½d - 6oz
7½d - 7oz
8½d - 8oz
9½d - 9oz
10½d - 10oz
11½d - 11oz
1s 0½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1920
(1 Jun)
2½d - 1oz
4d - 2oz
5½d - 3oz
7d - 4oz
8½d - 5oz
10d - 6oz
11½d - 7oz
1s 1d - 8oz
1s 2½d - 9oz
1s 4d - 10oz
1s 5½d - 11oz
1s 7d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
2d - 1oz
3d - 2oz
4d - 3oz
5d - 4oz
6d - 5oz
7d - 6oz
8d - 7oz
9d - 8oz
10d - 9oz
11d - 10oz
1s - 11oz
1s 1d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1921
(13 Jun)
3d - 1oz
4½d - 2oz
6d - 3oz
7½d - 4oz
9d - 5oz
10½d - 6oz
1s - 7oz
1s 1½d - 8oz
1s 3d - 9oz
1s 4½d - 10oz
1s 6d - 11oz
1s 7½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
2d - 1oz
3½d - 2oz
5d - 3oz
6½d - 4oz
8d - 5oz
9½d - 6oz
11d - 7oz
1s 0½d - 8oz
1s 2d - 9oz
1s 3½d - 10oz
1s 5d - 11oz
1s 6½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1922
(29 May)
3d - 1oz
4½d - 2oz
6d - 3oz
7½d - 4oz
9d - 5oz
10½d - 6oz
1s - 7oz
1s 1½d - 8oz
1s 3d - 9oz
1s 4½d - 10oz
1s 6d - 11oz
1s 7½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1½d - 1oz
3d - 2oz
4½d - 3oz
6d - 4oz
7½d - 5oz
9d - 6oz
10½d - 7oz
1s - 8oz
1s 1½d - 9oz
1s 3d - 10oz
1s 4½d - 11oz
1s 6d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1923
(14 May)
2½d - 1oz
4d - 2oz
5½d - 3oz
7d - 4oz
8½d - 5oz
10d - 6oz
11½d - 7oz
1s 1d - 8oz
1s 2½d - 9oz
1s 4d - 10oz
1s 5½d - 11oz
1s 7d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1½d - 1oz
2½d - 2oz
3½d - 3oz
4½d - 4oz
5½d - 5oz
6½d - 6oz
7½d - 7oz
8½d - 8oz
9½d - 9oz
10½d - 10oz
11½d - 11oz
1s 0½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1940
(1 May)
3d - 1oz
4½d - 2oz
6d - 3oz
7½d - 4oz
9d - 5oz
10½d - 6oz
1s - 7oz
1s 1½d - 8oz
1s 3d - 9oz
1s 4½d - 10oz
1s 6d - 11oz
1s 7½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
2½d - 1oz
3½d - 2oz
4½d - 3oz
5½d - 4oz
6½d - 5oz
7½d - 6oz
8½d - 7oz
9½d - 8oz
10½d - 9oz
11½d - 10oz
1s 0½d - 11oz
1s 1½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1948
(1 Jul)
3d - 1oz
5d - 2oz
7d - 3oz
9d - 4oz
11d - 5oz
1s 1d - 6oz
1s 3d - 7oz
1s 5d - 8oz
1s 7d - 9oz
1s 9d - 10oz
1s 11d - 11oz
2s 1d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 2d
2½d - 1oz
3½d - 2oz
4½d - 3oz
5½d - 4oz
6½d - 5oz
7½d - 6oz
8½d - 7oz
9½d - 8oz
10½d - 9oz
11½d - 10oz
1s 0½d - 11oz
1s 1½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1950
(1 Oct)
4d - 1oz
6½d - 2oz
9d - 3oz
11½d - 4oz
1s 2d - 5oz
1s 4½d - 6oz
1s 7d - 7oz
1s 9½d - 8oz
2s - 9oz
2s 2½d - 10oz
2s 5d - 11oz
2s 7½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 2½d
2½d - 1oz
3½d - 2oz
4½d - 3oz
5½d - 4oz
6½d - 5oz
7½d - 6oz
8½d - 7oz
9½d - 8oz
10½d - 9oz
11½d - 10oz
1s 0½d - 11oz
1s 1½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1d
1957
(1 Oct)
6d - 1oz
10d - 2oz
1s 2d - 3oz
1s 6d - 4oz
1s 10d - 5oz
2s 2d - 6oz
2s 6d - 7oz
2s 10d - 8oz
3s 2d - 9oz
3s 6d - 10oz
3s 10d - 11oz
4s 2d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 4d
3d - 1oz
4½d - 2oz
6d - 3oz
7½d - 4oz
9d - 5oz
10½d - 6oz
1s - 7oz
1s 1½d - 8oz
1s 3d - 9oz
1s 4½d - 10oz
1s 6d - 11oz
1s 7½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1965
(17 May)
6d - 1oz
10d - 2oz
1s 2d - 3oz
1s 6d - 4oz
1s 10d - 5oz
2s 2d - 6oz
2s 6d - 7oz
2s 10d - 8oz
3s 2d - 9oz
3s 6d - 10oz
3s 10d - 11oz
4s 2d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 4d
4d - 1oz
5½d - 2oz
7d - 3oz
8½d - 4oz
10d - 5oz
11½d - 6oz
1s 1d - 7oz
1s 2½d - 8oz
1s 4d - 9oz
1s 5½d - 10oz
1s 7d - 11oz
1s 8½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1966
(3 Oct)
9d - 1oz
1s 2d - 2oz
1s 7d - 3oz
2s - 4oz
2s 5d - 5oz
2s 10d - 6oz
3s 3d - 7oz
3s 8d - 8oz
4s 1d - 9oz
4s 6d - 10oz
4s 11d - 11oz
5s 4d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 5d
4d - 1oz
5½d - 2oz
7d - 3oz
8½d - 4oz
10d - 5oz
11½d - 6oz
1s 1d - 7oz
1s 2½d - 8oz
1s 4d - 9oz
1s 5½d - 10oz
1s 7d - 11oz
1s 8½d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1½d
1968
(16 Sep)
9d - 1oz
1s 2d - 2oz
1s 7d - 3oz
2s - 4oz
2s 5d - 5oz
2s 10d - 6oz
3s 3d - 7oz
3s 8d - 8oz
4s 1d - 9oz
4s 6d - 10oz
4s 11d - 11oz
5s 4d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 5d
5d - 1oz
7d - 2oz
9d - 3oz
11d - 4oz
1s 1d - 5oz
1s 3d - 6oz
1s 5d - 7oz
1s 7d - 8oz
1s 9d - 9oz
1s 11d - 10oz
2s 1d - 11oz
2s 3d - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 2d
1971
(15 Feb)
4p - 1oz
6p - 2oz
8p - 3oz
10p - 4oz
12p - 5oz
14p - 6oz
16p - 7oz
18p - 8oz
20p - 9oz
22p - 10oz
24p - 11oz
26p - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 2p
2p - 1oz
3p - 2oz
4p - 3oz
5p - 4oz
6p - 5oz
7p - 6oz
8p - 7oz
9p - 8oz
10p - 9oz
11p - 10oz
12p - 11oz
13p - 12oz

Each additional 1oz - 1p

2p basic Empire rate – a conversion from previous 5d rate – actually less than new second class inland rate
1971
(1 Jul)
5p - 1oz
9p - 2oz
12p - 4oz
30p - 8oz
50p - 1lb
80p - 2lb
£1.30 - 4lb
3p - 1oz
5p - 2oz
7½p - 4oz
10p - 8oz
20p - 1lb
35p - 2lb
70p - 4lb
1973
(10 Sep)
5½p - 1oz
11p - 2oz
15p - 4oz
30p - 8oz
55p - 1lb
90p - 2lb
£1.50 - 4lb
3½p - 1oz
7p - 2oz
12p - 4oz
20p - 8oz
35p - 1lb
60p - 2lb
£1.00 - 4lb
1974
(24 Jun)
5½p - 1oz
11p - 2oz
15p - 4oz
30p - 8oz
55p - 1lb
90p - 2lb
£1.50 - 4lb
4½p - 1oz
7p - 2oz
12p - 4oz
20p - 8oz
35p - 1lb
60p - 2lb
£1.00 - 4lb
1975
(16 Mar)
5½p - 1oz
11p - 2oz
15p - 4oz
30p - 8oz
55p - 1lb
90p - 2lb
£1.50 - 4lb
Last day of Commonwealth (Empire) rates